Social media is a stressful place to work right now. Keeping your cool in the face of new platforms, overnight algorithm changes, controversial news stories and ‘failed’ content can be tough.
From vicious trolls to algorithm tweaks that threaten to bury your content forever, comms professionals never know what they might face when they log in. Plus major platforms like Instagram are radically changing overnight (hello Reels, goodbye captions) while new ones are appearing (hi BeReal) that demand time and attention.
This is a recipe for serious stress. Insecurity about what works coupled with working in a media environment explicitly designed to eat time and attention can be a recipe for anxiety. And the stakes can appear high. The advice is often to be bold with content, yet failure can be very swift and very public.
With this in mind, here’s some practical tips on how to protect your mental health while producing excellent work.
1. Have a crystal-clear strategy
Feeling bewildered? Then go back to basics. If you’re time-poor (and who isn’t?) a good strategy can help you focus on what matters. This CharityComms blog is a smart place to start.
Make sure you have a clear idea of which audience(s) you want to reach, what you need them to do and how you’re measuring success. If necessary, write it down on a Post-it, stick it to your laptop and explicitly refer to it at the start of content meetings.
Use that strategy as a lens through which to make decisions like…
- Should you be on TikTok? Find out if your audience is first.
- Is it worth concentrating on Stories? Look at how your audiences interact with them.
2. Try and disconnect performance from self-worth
Everyone knows the soul-crushing feeling when content you’ve worked hard on doesn’t do the numbers.
Sadly, this feeling is designed into the system. Social media rewards creators with attention and validation. After all, it’s no accident that a key metric is ‘likes’ illustrated by little red hearts. If that attention doesn’t arrive then users (including you) will engage more to try and win it, boosting time spent on the platform.
A good way to combat this feeling is to try and disconnect your self-worth from your job and find validation outside it. This can be incredibly hard – especially if you love what you do.
Also, remember that failure might not have much to do with you. In ancient times people embraced the idea that gods could interfere with their fortunes. Judgemental and all-powerful, social media algorithms definitely behave like an old-school entity. So, it’s consoling to think that deep in some San Francisco server, the mighty algorithm has decided that it’s not your day, whatever you do.
3. Be realistic
Consuming content is effortless. Creating it isn’t.
Be realistic about how much content, and on which platforms, you have the capacity to create. OK, there are quick wins: like sharing other people’s posts and recycling evergreen content (it’s Christmas again – time to donate). But you have to accept you can’t do it all, and most likely you can’t be on every platform – or at least certainly not by yourself.
A smart Zen trick is to get other people involved…
- Your colleague likes the look of BeReal? Ask them to come up with a business case for getting on it.
- Your manager wants more Stories? Ask them to find some you can model.
4. Share the mental load
‘Moaning’ is positive. Everyone else does it to let off steam – and so should you.
Try and connect with other social media people who face the same challenges you do. Maybe set up a WhatsApp group – or post over at The Third Sector PR & Comms Network Facebook Group.
Share solutions, but more importantly, talk about the problems you face.
5. Be aware of social media backlash
Of course, it’s not just you that’s disgruntled with social media. Even Kim Kardashian has been complaining about the algorithm changes on Instagram, so it’s no surprise that the new pivot to video is stressing you out.
This feeling is already leaking into organisation’s comms. Take for example a recent ad for pasties that asks “Is this [ad] long enough for the algorithm?” or Stories that declare “Instagram wants me to do more videos but I’m a rebel.”
It’s a challenging situation but for the right organisation, there may be a way to capitalise on this shift.
Overall though, the truth is that charities need to be on social media if their audiences are. But if these audiences no longer feel good about being on there, and when the relationship tips from positive to toxic, it might be time to try something new.
This could be reducing workload by taking a hard look at your stats and focusing solely on what works. Or making sure yourself, and any social media colleagues are feeling OK with your workload. Society appears to be rethinking its relationship with social media. And comms professionals need to be part of that conversation.
If you need more advice on how to support yourself and others take a look at our Wellbeing Guide.
Look out for our latest Social Media Network – Social media marketing: back to basics on-demand soon.
Fancy a podcast? Have a listen to CharityComms podcast: Wellbeing in the age of social media.
Banner Image: Pratik Gupta on Unsplash