Go you! You’ve been absolutely killing it on social media! Your posting schedule is robust, no comment goes unresponded to, and your engagement is through the roof. But, rather than riding high on your success, you’re feeling erratic. After months of highly-engaged posts, you’ve found yourself getting sloppy and uninspired. Each new push notification makes you anxious, you have less patience for “stupid questions” (a phrase you’ve been saying more and more), and it has become harder to find the fun in what you do.
If you feel yourself nodding along to any of the symptoms above, you, my dear, are suffering from social media burnout.
This oh-so-common phenomenon afflicts social media managers across all sectors, career experience, and genders. Burnout is a real threat to our productivity, and if not handled appropriately, your online communities will suffer, your animals will feel the effects, and your career may even be in jeopardy.
So, what do we do? Here are my 5 go-to tips for avoiding (and recovering from) social media burnout.
Speaking from personal experience, nothing demotivates me more than remembering that I forgot. Like remembering that I meant to post a heartwarming adoption update story onto our blog this morning… but I forgot. How could I be so scatterbrained?
The easiest way to avoid situations like these is to work ahead. I highly recommend creating a rough schedule of topics to post about over the next 3-6 months. Here are some of my tips on how to do that, and this subscribable Google calendar from HeARTs Speak helps you make sure you never miss an upcoming holiday.
I personally use this method, and then every Friday, I’ll create each individual piece of content to post during the week ahead. Using apps like Hootsuite, Buffer, or Loomly I can also schedule the posts to deploy exactly when I want – and voila! For the next 6 days, all I have to do is answer comments and handle whatever surprise opportunities may come my way.
Let’s say you’ve gone ahead and created your 3-6 month posting calendar, and things are going smoothly. Then, all of a sudden, you realize that you’ve committed yourself to creating a LOT of content during an unexpectedly busy week.
What do you do?
Don’t rush to create the content super quickly. Instead, recycle content that lives somewhere else!
Here’s what I mean: Let’s say you planned to write a blog post and create an infographic about the importance of spaying and neutering your pets, but now you see that you just won’t have the time to make anything of quality.
What are your options?
First, ask: Has something similar already been written by someone on your team? Maybe someone wrote some really great information within a brochure your organization is currently using. Repurpose that into your blog!
Or, check: Does something already exists online from another organization? While you obviously don’t want to pass someone else’s infographic off as your own, you can certainly reach out and ask for permission to use the graphic or share it and give ample credit to the original group. (Hint: This method is also useful even if you don’t have an ever-changing schedule. Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?)
Make it a team effort. (If you’re the only one managing your organization’s social media channels, this tip is especially for you.)
Get others to chip in! I know that it can be hard to relinquish control of social media content. However, by asking for content submissions from your staff, your volunteers, and (especially) your online community, you create a sense of buy-in and pride from those whose work you feature…. all while creating some more free time in your day (bonus!).
Blog posts, photos, adoption stories, videos of your animals… the next time you think someone can contribute, ask your network if they have anything to share. People are always happy to help, and they’ll be even happier when they see all of the likes, comments, and shares they helped to generate.
(Also, if you seriously need some part-time help managing content, don’t be afraid to take on a social media volunteer. Again, people love to feel needed.)
On a similar note, always share good news with your network! Social media can often be an isolating job. Unless people are checking your pages constantly (which, let’s face it, not many people do), they won’t notice your social media wins unless you tell them. And, when those major accomplishments go unnoticed, it is easy to get resentful.
I give you full permission to toot your own horn.
If your post on Instagram directly leads to a senior dog finding a home, share the news with your followers! If a video you filmed about a recent rescue mission surpasses a million views, tell your staff (and maybe your board). If a Facebook donation request ends up generating thousands of dollars, let others know!
You’ll be surprised at how many people want to celebrate in your success. (And you’ll be even more surprised at how a little encouragement can be totally rejuvenating.)
Keep a consistent schedule (and make sure others know about it).
I saved the best (and possibly hardest) for last. Work-life balance is tricky when your work involves social media. We literally carry our jobs around in our pockets 24/7, so it’s no wonder why we sometimes feel compelled to be “working” at all hours. Not surprisingly, this need to be constantly “on” is the most notorious cause of burnout. I know the struggle; you want to make sure that everyone receives a response in a timely manner. (On a side note, why are people asking about our adoptable dogs at 2am?!)
However, it’s not possible to manage your pages at all hours, which is why most corporate social media departments have people hired to work the night shift (it’s true).
So, set a reasonable schedule for yourself, make it known, and stick to it.
If you decide that 7am-10pm is a manageable schedule for you, inform your online community. Have auto-replies set up on Facebook Messenger and maybe Pin a Tweet stating the hours they can expect a prompt response in a clear yet respectful way.
Most importantly, inform your team members. Make it clear that messages that come in during your “off hours” may not be read until the next morning. However (and, this taps into the “team effort” tip above), be sure to empower them to let you know if they spot something that needs urgent attention.
Our jobs are demanding, but they also can be incredibly fun and rewarding. We cannot expect ourselves to help any animals if we don’t take steps to help ourselves as well. So, if your job starts to become overwhelming or stops being fun, check in and see if you can implement any of the steps above. The animals will thank you!