Any government social media manager will talk your ear off about why they love their job – but it doesn’t come without its share of pitfalls and hazards, like the darkness of the comment section or never-ending to-dos and task lists. Self-care is a real and necessary thing to get us through the rough patches and savor what drives us to tell our stories on social.
In this series of three articles, Jessie Brown, social media coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Co-Executive Director of Social Media Club Des Moines, digs into this major concern among social media professionals – and offers suggestions and tips from other pros to be the best, healthiest you that you can be. See the previously published Part 1.
Don’t let the trolls and trip-ups get you down
Remember, it’s not personal. Some people are out to cause chaos, some people just feel deeply passionate about an issue. Enter Leslie Knope: “What I hear when I’m being yelled at is people caring loudly at me.” We can choose to not let things get to us. But in many cases, it’s always best to respond. As marketing expert Jay Baer likes to say, “hug your haters.” Responding to a negative poster may not always change their mind on the issue (spoiler alert: sometimes it does!), but others see that you’re responsive and providing friendly, factual information. You may not turn the troll, but you can bring along the onlookers. And building that brand voice can help you build brand advocates – who often will go to bat on your behalf when the trolls get vocal.
Rely on subject experts in your organization to help you answer technical or detailed questions. And if the facts just aren’t enough, or your well-meaning customer is full of follow up questions or “what ifs?” it’s time to follow the three-and-out rule. If you’ve responded three times already, it’s time to offer to take the conversation offline with a direct contact to a subject expert or customer service staffer.
Also, it’s okay to make mistakes. It will blow over. Don’t let fear of a mistake keep you from taking fun risks in your content and response – be smart, but not unadventurous. Don’t let one or two negative responses overshadow your success. On some lighthearted posts, I like to respond with fun GIFs now and then – and most people appreciate it. One did not think Chris Pratt should speak for our agency. I gave a kind response, and others jumped on the thread saying how they thought it was fun. Don’t let that one negative comment direct all your content.
Let it go
Sometimes a coffee break just isn’t going to cut it. Taking a walk and some deep breaths can often help you hit the “reset” button on your day. Find a way to clear your mind before you head back to the keyboard.
But if the day has just been a monster, it’s time to suit up. After an especially stressful day of moderating comments, Emily Allen Lucht, who works for the Maryland Center for School Safety, sang her heart out in the car to relieve stress on the way home, where she knew some Nerf guns were waiting.
“I told my husband to ‘suit up’ and we played like kids for an hour running around the house acting like we were 5,” she says. “My husband and I discovered the best way to take a break from the grown-up stuff is to not be a grown-up.”Emily Allen Lucht
Walking away from your own personal social media on a regular basis can help, too.
“I’ve recently set time limits on my phone so that each night I have designated four hours of non-social media time. This has helped me focus on other things I need to get done and spend more quality time with my husband,” says Viki Arias Kepler, who’s behind social media at the Iowa Events Center and serves as Co-Executive Director of Social Media Club Des Moines. “It’s definitely nice to turn my brain off for those four hours.”Viki Arias Kepler
For me, that means getting organized. Yes, I fold my shirts like Marie Kondo suggests. Know why? Because she’s on to something. Clutter does not spark joy. Don’t let stuff pile up – whether that’s tasks, assignments, emails, papers on your desk, a full inbox of Facebook comments, or your stress. #InboxZeroForLife, am I right?
Go back to that focus day I mentioned in Part 1, and get strategic. Schedule out a content calendar. Make time for what you need to do your job the best you can. Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails, unfollow accounts that don’t hold value anymore. Look into focus methods like Pomodoro, where you focus on a task for 25 minutes, take a five-minute break from it (stretch, snack, check email), then repeat three more times before a 20-minute break – because writing that blog or editing that video just feels so much more manageable 25 minutes at a time.
Use all the scheduling tools available to you, whether that’s in the native app or in a third-party tool. Some tools, like Tailwind for Pinterest, will allow you to set up scheduled content on a recurring schedule – just like that InstantPot meal, set it and forget it! (Okay, check in now and then to make sure all’s good – but it will free up a lot of time.) Set aside time on your calendar to schedule posts in batches, as possible, and devote the rest of your week to other tasks.
In the next installment, we cover finding support, recharging, and staying rooted in your mission.