Chronic workplace stress and social media burnout are increasingly common problems; many people will go through one or the other sooner or later.

But for social media managers, the fuse burns at both ends.

Their job requires them to be constantly connected and plugged into social networks every hour of every day; squeezing in a “digital detox” into their daily schedule isn’t always doable.

So, how can social media professionals set important work-life boundaries that prioritize mental health and avoid social media burnout?

Here’s our take on it!

What Is Social Media Burnout?

As the World Health Organization defines it, burnout is a syndrome that occurs as a result of chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed. And while it’s not classified as a medical condition, burnout is a serious occupational phenomenon that should never be taken lightly.

Social media burnout, more specifically, is a form of occupational burnout that could transpire in any line of work but is most commonly observed in the social media industry.

We all know how integral social media has become to our daily lives, but it’s important to note that excessive use can promote negative experiences. Despite having positive aspects, online interactions can still make us feel burnt out – and no one knows this better than social media managers, who seem to be at an exceptionally high risk of developing social media burnout.

What is burnout syndrome
What is burnout syndrome?

And why does burnout occur at such high rates among social media professionals?

The answer is a complex one. However, it generally comes down to a mixture of the demanding roles and the “always-on” nature of social media.

Even under normal circumstances, prolonged social media exposure can harm mental health. Clinical reports have already proposed the existence of a condition known as “Facebook depression.”

But when managing multiple social media accounts across several platforms, engaging with the users, and maintaining the brand’s online presence is part of your job description, you don’t get much chance to unplug.

The pressure to be available and responsive 24/7 can be a significant source of social media burnout. Some of the most common causes of social media burnout are:

• Unclear roles and job expectations

• Unmanageable workload

• The stigma associated with social media

• Limited autonomy or control 

• Lack of support from leadership

• Negative workplace environment

• Poor or non-existent work-life balance

That can start to affect your mood and take a toll on your mental health, leading you down an unfortunate path where it’s less about what you enjoy doing – and more about getting through each day.

Identify Social Media Burnout: Signs & Symptoms 

Burnout is a reality for many professionals that spend more than two hours every day working with social media content. Marketers, public relations professionals, journalists, social media managers; the list goes on.

We must recognize the symptoms of burnout – in ourselves and our coworkers – so that we know when to say “Enough” and seek support.

Here’s the tricky part:

The initial signs of social media burnout can be subtle enough at first, so much that they often go unnoticed or mistaken for something else. However, the stress and the pressure will continue to build up until they reach a critical point and could lead to serious physical and psychological illnesses.

So, what are some clear indicators that you’re approaching – or could already be experiencing – social media burnout?

signs of burnout
Signs of burnout

Social media burnout is typically characterized by the following changes in mood and behavior:

• Exhaustion and energy depletion
• Feelings of negativity and cynicism related to your work
• Loss of enthusiasm or irritability and anger when using social media
• Job dissatisfaction and mental distancing from your work
• Little to no motivation
• Reduced professional efficacy and inability to fulfill responsibilities
• Feelings of anxiety, overthinking, and self-criticism
• A sense that you have nothing to offer to followers, often accompanied by feelings of guilt and hopelessness
• Lack of sleep or waking up tired
• Neglecting your well-being and developing unhealthy coping mechanisms

Remember that each person experiences social media burnout differently. The symptoms can manifest differently, and to a different degree, in everyone. However, if one or more of these symptoms ring true for you, you might already be – or are on your way to – experiencing social media burnout.

Now, here’s the shocking part about social media burnout among marketers and social media managers:

Although it’s pretty common in the industry, many professionals don’t realize how dangerous burnout is – both mentally and physically. As a result, they’ll usually continue to put themselves through this exhausting cycle, failing to recognize that the consequences, if left unchecked, will only worsen over time.

If you’re on that downward spiral, know that social media burnout won’t go away on its own. The more you ignore these telltale signs, the worse they get and the more harm they can cause further down the line.

How To Combat Social Media Burnout As A Social Media Manager

Knowing that your business role requires you to be present on social platforms, it can be challenging to find other ways to combat burnout, put your mental health first, and manage stress levels.

We hate to say it, but quitting social networks altogether isn’t the answer. Not unless you’re in crisis mode, ready to get out of the industry, and become a “former social media manager,” that is.

How can social media professionals go about combating social media burnout, then?

Here are some strategies we recommend for combating social media burnout – and keeping it at bay in the future.

1. Take A Break Once In A While

As a social media professional, you might feel that you don’t get to take breaks from social media – ever. As a result, leaving work at work often seems impossible. But that kind of thinking got you into this mess in the first place.

Give yourself permission to take breaks; we all need them!

Yes, social media is an extension of our lives – and in this case, our business – but it should never become our life.

It’s vital for social media managers to take at least 30 minutes per day, or more if possible, away from work. Whether it’s turning off notifications, taking time off to do a digital detox, or simply limiting your time on social media when you’re not at work, it’s essential to step away from everything once in a while.

It doesn’t mean that you don’t care or that you’re not doing your job well enough. It just means that you respect your limits. And you’ll be a better social media marketer for it.

2. Consider Creating Content In Advance

Many professionals in this business find it challenging to create new content on a daily basis. But they feel pressured to do so at the same time.

If this is happening for you, try creating some content in advance. That way, you have something ready whenever you need it, rather than staring at that blinking cursor every time it’s time to post.

Create content for your social media accounts in advance and pair it with a well-thought-out social media strategy. That will help you accomplish two things:

One, it will limit how much time you spend on these platforms every day. And two, it will alleviate the pressure of producing everything at once or pumping out mediocre content because you’re obligated to do so.

It might even allow you to take time off at the end of the week without worrying about not having any quality content when it’s time to post again.

3. Work Smarter, Not Harder

Instead of putting in more hours, implement productivity tactics that make you more efficient and be strategic about how and when you post, respond to comments, and engage with the online community.

Or, to put it simply, work smarter, not harder.

One of the best pieces of advice we can give you – besides creating content in advance and repurposing it – is to start using a social media automation tool.

Social media automation tools don’t require human intervention to accomplish specific tasks on social networks. You can essentially automate things like posting and sharing content on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

And doing so will make social media management more streamlined and efficient in more ways than one.

It will allow you to save time you’d otherwise spend logging into all these different platforms to post your content manually, which you can then use to focus on high-priority tasks or take a break from social media. Plus, it will make it possible to engage with an audience that’s out of your time zone.

That’s where a social media automation tool like Boosterberg becomes indispensable:

You can schedule content in advance, set your budget, target audience, and placement, and let Boosterberg promote content on your behalf.

As a result, your company will stay on top of its social media strategy, and you get to preserve your work-life balance – without getting sucked into the social vortex.

It’s not always possible to avoid logging into social networks altogether, especially if managing accounts is part of your job. But with Boosterberg, you can streamline and automate your promotions of Facebook and Instagram posts and cut back on social media throughout the day.

When it comes to time management, we highly recommend a method known as time blocking. The idea is to divide your day into time blocks and then dedicate each one to accomplishing specific tasks.

4. Curate, Recycle & Repurpose Instead Of Creating

You don’t always have to be producing new content. That’s usually a recipe for getting overwhelmed and could put you on the fast track to burnout town.

Instead, try filling in the gaps in your content calendar by recycling what you already have or curating content.

Don’t just copy-paste everything, though. Instead, tweak the content you’ll be reusing to meet the requirements of each social channel and make it more valuable for your audience.

As for curation, it’s about collecting the best, relevant-to-your-audience content.

Create best-of lists, share an interesting blog post or social media resources, or must-read tweets by industry leaders. The more creative you are with curation, the better.

You still need to maintain a good balance of new content and content you curate or repurpose. That’s what keeps your feed engaging.

But it’s the stream of daily updates, even when they’re in the form of repurposed content, that reminds the audience that your business exists.

5. Set Boundaries & Expectations

Social media might be in “always-on” mode 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but that doesn’t imply you should be, too. The “always-on” mentality in terms of online engagement is neither realistic nor healthy. You’re human, not a machine.

Putting mental health first

Granted, saying “No” doesn’t come easy to some, especially people pleasers. So, it’s understandable that you want to avoid disappointment on the other end, but the thing is:

You’re the one who needs to set boundaries; no one else can – or will – do it for you. Besides, setting boundaries will do wonders for your professional productivity.

Make it clear that maintaining a work-life balance is a priority for you, implement firm work hours, and be sure to communicate your boundaries with your team.

It would also help if you learned how to manage expectations. It’s essential that team members’ roles are clearly defined in advance and that everyone understands what can realistically be achieved and when.

If you feel like you’ve been given too much work and not enough downtime, try saying something. Be more assertive and speak up when your workload becomes unreasonable.

6. Make Time For What Makes You Happy

Eat, work, sleep, repeat. It’s quite easy to get trapped into the daily grind, but a routine that lets career goals get in the way of the time you spend with friends, family, or doing things you love is bound to affect your well-being.

As cliché as this might sound, there is more to life than constantly checking your social accounts, direct messages, or comments on your blog post – even if that’s part of the business.

Maintaining healthy habits and making time for things you love will set you up for success in all areas of life – personal and professional.

Here’s an example of healthy coping mechanisms that will help you recover from burnout and manage your stress levels in the future:

• Getting eight hours of sleep

• Keeping your phone out of the bedroom

• Meditation

• Journaling

• Exercising

• Daily walks

• Taking a break during the workday

• Meeting with friends

• Reading a book

The list of things you can do is pretty much non-exhaustive.

Setting some time aside for doing what makes you happy will help recharge your mental battery and positively impact you, both on and off the job.

7. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Digital marketing professionals are notorious for being self-starters. While that’s generally a good – and admirable – trait, it can sometimes go hand-in-hand with a high personal cost.

They often get stuck wearing many hats, from a community manager and graphic designer to a copywriter and data analyst. However, just because you are the mouthpiece of the company doesn’t mean you should work around the clock and carry the weight of an entire company on your shoulders.

Another example of this is creating accounts on all major social platforms at once or trying all these new social media apps the second they’re launched. Give them time, see if they stick around and if your target audience is using them.

If you find yourself feeling overworked and overwhelmed, take a step back and, if possible, audit your business’ social presence:

Review each of your profiles, see how they’re performing and if they benefit your business. If not, say goodbye. It’s much better to focus on those social channels that drive actual results than spread yourself too thin.

8. Focus On Good Outcomes & Celebrate Small Victories

With various KPIs and metrics, such as follower counts, likes, shares, comments, and mentions, that measure your success on social media, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the numbers.

And when those numbers aren’t looking as great as you expect them to, despite all your efforts in developing a good social media strategy, you may find yourself falling into the dark side of social media platforms.

It’s not that you shouldn’t have an end goal or map out your grand plan; you should. But remember to celebrate the little wins along the way.

Dropping the “I’ll celebrate when I get there” mentality becomes even more vital if you’re struggling with burnout.

Emphasize personal victories and good outcomes. For example, make a folder where you’ll keep screenshots of the positive comments your business received from your audience and go through them when you’re having a bad day.

Or get in the habit of rewarding yourself and your team whenever you reach a milestone along the way.

Taking the time to celebrate small wins – as trivial and minor as they might seem – will remind you that you’re making progress. And feeling like you’re making real progress will be another deposit into your “confidence account.”

9. Talk About Mental Health In The Workplace & Know When To Ask For Help

The conversations surrounding mental health and business have improved over the past years, but the stigma still lingers. Shockingly enough, more than 70% of people living with mental illness will try to conceal it rather than openly asking for support because they fear discrimination.

If you’d like to be a part of the change, spark up conversations about it, and start advocating for mental health resources in the workplace.

Another way for you to look after each other’s mental health as colleagues and create a healthier work environment is to keep an eye out for each other.

Sometimes it’s easy to tell that something’s not right and that we’re heading for a downward spiral. But other times, we need someone, be it friends or team members, to spot these signs and draw our attention to them.

Be each other’s support network, and encourage each other to take breaks when they’re needed. Finally, and most importantly, normalize leaning into your community and asking for help in a crisis.

It might feel like it, but asking for help is never a sign of any weakness, let alone failure. If anything, it shows you’re human. So, when things get difficult, and none of the usual coping mechanisms seem to work, let your managers know and talk to a professional.

Social Media – Without Getting Burned

Social media burnout isn’t something you’ll be able to recover from in a few easy-peasy steps.

Burnout will hit you like a ton of bricks, and when it does, it can take weeks – if not months – for you to start feeling like your old self again.

In the meantime, here’s what we recommend:

Take some time away from social networks as soon as you identify the warning signs setting in, give your mind and body time to heal, and make time for yourself every day. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not where you want to be at the moment or if things are feeling off right now.

No business goal or sales should ever come first or be more important than your well-being.

Get in touch today. We’d like to help you get started on your journey of automated content promotion with Boosterberg!