Late last year, I briefly entertained the idea of quitting my job and looking for a new gig. A job that had nothing to do with social media. Something that didn’t involve any type of tweeting, pinning or liking.
That feeling didn’t last long at all. Less than a day, to be precise.
In retrospect, the reason I felt like I needed to quit social media marketing was because of a mild (but significant enough) burn out.
I am not alone: burnout among social media marketers is quite common. PR pro Arik Hanson recently shared his thoughts on this phenomenon, predicting that “burnout for early adopter social media marketers” will happen more for 2015. Some reasons for this, according to Hanson, include the lack of senior roles and the fear of being pigeonholed into a social media position.
Contrary to what some may belief, being a social media marketer isn’t just all about tweeting and lurking on Facebook the whole day. The role is becoming more strategic than ever. It’s also incredibly stressful. Getting burnt out is a real possibility.
If you’re part of the growing number of social media marketers who’s thinking of calling it quits, here are eight ways to reignite your passion for what you do.
Embrace your expertise.
“Let’s put our infographics on Instagram.” “We need to prioritize Google+!” “Hey, maybe we should be on Vine?”
Everyone has an opinion on how to do social media. My guess is this is because most people are on social networks–at least on Facebook. But unless your colleagues have held community management or social media marketing jobs in the past, they likely don’t know as much about this space as you do.
The first step to burning out is agreeing to do everything. So don’t be afraid to push back. Don’t be afraid to disagree with your bosses and colleagues. If you’re not the social media expert, then you wouldn’t be holding your job right now, right?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to others though. That’s a terrible idea. But if you’ve done enough research or if you’re drawing from past experience, then you should voice your concerns. Act like you’re the social media expert—because you are.
Make friends with other social media marketers.
I’m lucky to know many social media pros in Vancouver. Some of my closest friends work in social media marketing or are at least heavy users of social networks. They get it. I try to meet more social media professionals and community managers in my city.
Being friends with people who have similar roles as yours has several benefits. They could act like a support group, giving you encouragement to do your job better. Conversations with these people could also give you fresh ideas to try and new tactics to implement. Whether through meetups or through professional organizations, don’t pass up the opportunity to network with other marketers.
Be more data-driven.
I recently download my company’s Twitter Analytics and Facebook Insights data. Crunching the numbers was illuminating. It gave me hard data on which days are better to tweet (for us, it’s Monday and Wednesday) and when (usually in the afternoon).
If you’re becoming bored at work, being data-driven can give you renewed energy by providing you with specific metrics to improve on. For instance, knowing your monthly engagement and click-through rates provides benchmarks for future campaigns.
Being data-driven could also highlight which tactics you should put more resources in. Diving into our own numbers confirmed to me that we should be uploading more videos to our Facebook page. Looking at our highest performing recent tweets, I discovered that I should be putting even more time creating images for Twitter.
When analyzing your social media analytics, look for actionable insights. Have some questions in mind–and then use data to answer them. Utilizing data to optimize what you’re doing will keep things interesting for you and will improve your effectiveness in your job.
Do social media outside of work.
When your work involves social media, checking out Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn outside of work might seem like a dreadful proposition. But if you want to avoid burning out, you need to find a way to discover (or rediscover) your love for social networks.
I love animated GIFs, so recently, I’ve been putting up more GIFs on my Twitter and Tumblr accounts. Do these GIFs improve my “personal branding”? Probably not. But I love looking for funny GIFs that ironically show how my day went or that reflect how I feel. It’s all for fun.
I maintain our corporate blog, so I already do a lot of writing at work. But I still take the time to write outside work, for my personal and music blogs. I do that because I enjoy it. And that’s really the key: if you want to rediscover your love for social media, you need to find a way to enjoy it. How you use social media on a personal level will help with that.
Find opportunities to develop new skills.
One of the reasons social media professionals burn out is the amount and the rate of changes that happen in the industry. Facebook is constantly tweaking its newsfeed algorithm. Twitter often rolls out new features, which recently included native videos. New and emerging networks like Ello (remember that?) and Snapchat are always popping up.
If you manage your corporate blog, you also need to keep up with SEO. With so much information to digest, it’s no wonder many social media marketers are getting tired.
But the velocity of change in social media also gives you an opportunity to intentionally develop new skills. Learning or improving your Photoshop skills is handy because most social networks are becoming more visual. Learning new tricks in Excel is useful when analyzing your social media data. And since social media is now a “pay to play” space, you should consider getting familiar with different social media advertising platforms.
There is always something new to learn. If you’re getting bored, it’s time to master a new skill.
In the company I work for, I am the only one who works in social media on a day-to-day basis. In a 700-employee, $100 million-revenue tech company, being the “social media guy” often comes with some pressure.
Unless you work for a company that is inherently social media-savvy, you’re likely in the same situation. Training a few people in your team could lighten the load…and the pressure.
When there are other people in your team who have a basic knowledge of social media, you don’t have to be the only one coming up with ideas. When you have a backup, you can confidently go offline once in a while (see tip #8) without worrying that things will fall apart at work while you’re gone.
Optimize your tasks.
Social media is just one half of my job. I also manage our corporate blog and sometimes help executives write for external publications. Being efficient isn’t a luxury for me; it’s a necessity.
Yes, the life of a social media marketer is a busy one. But putting significant hours in is a burnout in the making.
Figure out how to get more things done in less time. Use social media scheduling tools like Buffer to save time. Experiment with to-do apps and choose one that works for you. Let data (see tip #3) tell you what tactics are working and which ones you need to let go of.
Marketers in general tend to be connected all the time. But it’s worse for social media marketers.
My first instinct when I open a new browser window is to go to Facebook…even if I didn’t really need to be there. When I check my phone, I often check both my personal and our corporate social media accounts. It’s just second nature.
Unplugging is important not just for your sanity but also for the quality of your work. Many studies suggest that being “always on” can negatively impact your productivity. Not having proper rest could also inhibit creativity.
That’s why if your job involves social media, you have to be more intentional about escaping the culture of busy. Keep work emails to an absolute minimum during vacations. On weekends and weeknights, find a way to not be in work mode all the time. (To be safe, tell your colleagues how they can reach you in case of emergencies.)
Unplugging is different for each person, so find an approach that works for you. Meet friends and family face to face. Enable your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature. Read a book. Workout. Get some time offline to recharge.
To avoid burning out, social media marketers need to be smarter about everything they do. They also need to evolve as marketers. Be intentional in acquiring new skills and find ways to be more efficient. In doing so, you can better enjoy your current role and become an even better marketer.