5 Ways to Avoid Social Media Burnout

By Sarah Dawley

Social

One morning a few years ago I finished my bowl of cereal, put everything away, started brushing my teeth while simultaneously putting on my shoes, and heard my roommate laughing at me from the couch. Suspicious of anyone even remotely happy at seven-something in the morning, I demanded she explain herself but all she said was, “open the fridge.”

There was the box of cereal, sitting beside the orange juice. I opened up the cupboard and—you guessed it—there was the carton of milk, sitting beside the canned beans. Derp.

In my defense, I had been up working until midnight the night before. But that wasn’t unusual. I was averaging 55 hours a week of work as a social media manager, alongside weekends packed full of events, hobbies, and social obligations. I was a getting burned out.

This mindless little mix-up in the kitchen is one of the more humorous ways stress can manifest itself, but according to the Mayo Clinic, burnout can lead to far more serious consequences, including insomnia, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and more. As she exhausted herself building The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington once fainted in her office. She hit her head on the desk and broke her cheekbone, requiring five stitches around her right eye. “It got me thinking about what kind of life I was leading. I was getting four to five hours of sleep a night. I had to slow down and reevaluate the choices I was making,” she said.

Here are five ways I’ve learned to avoid burnout, along with tips from our community and the social team here at Hootsuite.

1. Structure your time

Logging in and aimlessly hitting refresh on your social media networks all day is a surefire way to get overwhelmed and worn down. Instead, structure your time by assigning parts of your day to specific activities.

For example, set aside one hour per day to do each of the following tasks:

  • Review new mentions and posts, answer questions from followers, and resolve customer service inquiries
  • Find and share relevant content from followers
  • Post new content on each platform
  • Schedule posts for the evening, the weekend, or an upcoming campaign

Structuring your time on social media will not only make you more efficient, it will keep you focused and working with purpose.

2. Share the workload

Your social media accounts are your babies. I get it. You put energy into feeding them and proudly watch them grow as a result. You want to keep them close. But finding ways to collaborate with other people on your team can take some of the weight off your shoulders and significantly help reduce burnout.

Sharing the workload on social media doesn’t have to mean handing over the keys to your accounts and letting someone else post on your company’s behalf. Here’s how you can collaborate in Hootsuite while keeping your social media accounts safe and secure:

Set permission levels

Give limited permissions in Hootsuite to a colleague who can help create posts for social. This will allow them to draft messages that you can easily approve, edit, publish, or schedule for later.

Learn how to get even more out of Hootsuite with free social media training from Hootsuite Academy.

Use search streams

“Create specific search streams that focus on different topics or business areas,” says Gabrielle Maheux, social channel lead at Hootsuite. “This will help you filter out what’s important, and make it easier to share the workload with your team. For example, you could create a stream based on keywords related to sales enquiries. Then assign those posts to a sales representative in your organization.”

Share assets

Add a content source—whether it’s Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or others—and you’ll be able to access images from that source and add them to your posts directly from the ‘Compose’ box in your dashboard. This is a great way for PR, design, and marketing teams to collaborate and make your life easier by supplying you with content for social.

3. Give your eyes a break

Our mental and physical states are inextricably tied together. If one burns out, the other is sure to follow. While you’re spending hours and hours a day staring at your laptop, tablet, or phone screen managing social media, remember that your eyeballs are doing just as much work as your brain. And in case you think I’m just here to nag you about the same advice you’ve heard countless times already, here’s some science to back me up. According to a report by The Vision Council, it only takes two hours in front of a screen for your eyes to begin suffering from “digital eye strain.” This can lead to issues like dry and irritated eyes, neck and back pain, and headaches (or as I like to call them, “party poopers”).

Every couple of hours, take a moment to rest your eyes. Try to limit your screen time right before you go to sleep, but if you’re dead set on tucking yourself into bed with your computer (I know how you social media managers roll) then at least make an effort to reduce the blue light being emitted from your screens. Andy Au, social marketing lead at Hootsuite, recommends the f.lux app: “It adapts your monitor to the time of day. So the color temperature is adjusted to reduce eye strain during night use, which can help stop sleep disruption.”

If you’re an iPhone user (with iOS 9.3) you can use the Night Shift mode, which changes the colors of your screen, making it more yellow at night. This will help reduce the glare of your screen at night and (ideally) make it easier for you to sleep after looking at it.

4. Give your brain a break

Being a social media manager requires an exhausting mix of creative and strategic thinking. Much like your eyeballs, your brain deserves a break every once in a while too. “Having a peaceful place to let your mind wander with nothing to distract you can help you refocus,” says Au. “Allow yourself to get bored. You do your best thinking in the shower for a reason.”

We also asked some of our Hootsuite Ambassadors what they do to give their brains a break and avoid social media burnout. Here’s what they said:

  • “The main thing that helps me is cooking meals for me and my son.” — @Sergio_Sosa
  • “I run a lot. It keeps my mind clear and it makes me unable to use my cell phone for a least an hour.” — @FrankTheStep
  • “Going outside for fresh air, taking a deep breath, and listening to my iPod. Particularly songs that inspire me and get me pumped!” — @Brandizzlinyo
  • “When I want to avoid a burnout I either turn to Netflix or plan a trip with my family and/or friends.” — @ChicaAlerta

5. When you log off—stay off

Full disclosure: I’m notoriously bad at this. I struggle not to check my email while making dinner or race to Twitter the minute I wake up in the morning. I understand the omnipresent temptation of the internet, the allure of a dormant iPhone. But logging off and avoiding social media for an extended period of time (i.e. more than a couple hours) is one of the best ways to reset, clear your mind, and avoid burnout. Here are two key components to making offline time a reality:

Protect your time and energy

There’s no getting around the fact that social media managers sometimes need to be available around the clock. A crisis may arise in the middle of the night that you need to handle. Your business might be able to build some brand awareness or gain new leads from live-tweeting an event happening on the weekend. As a social media manager, you need to be available when these things happen. But you don’t need to be available at midnight on a Thursday because an overzealous executive has a “great idea for a Tweet” that they’ve decided needs to go out immediately.

Establish expectations about your availability after regular work hours. Make a plan with your manager about how you’ll recoup your time and discuss what you need in order to make the demands of your role sustainable.

Schedule posts in advance

Burnout can happen extra quick if you’re a social media manager trying to keep a global audience engaged at all hours of the day (or night). The good news is that although you need to sleep, your social accounts don’t. It won’t replace the need for a real human being who can listen and respond in real time, but scheduling posts will at least help ensure your brand is visible on social no matter what time zone you’re operating in.

Learn how to get even more out of Hootsuite with free social media training from Hootsuite Academy.

Scheduling is especially effective if you have an upcoming campaign that you can plan for in advance, such as a product release or company announcement. Using Hootsuite to schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram will help ensure your campaign is being properly supported on social, even when you’re taking a well-deserved internet respite.

Hootsuite can keep burnout at bay by helping you stay organized, focused, and prepared to handle anything on social media. Try it for free today.

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