Burnout is defined as a physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. As a social media professional, it’s easy to get so engrossed in engagement that it begins to interfere with personal activities — after all, social media never sleeps. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t either.
Consider the amount of time you spend plugged-in. Most jobs in social media aren’t nine-to-five roles. Before you get out of bed you probably already know what’s in your Inbox, who’s Liked your latest Facebook update, and sent a few tweets in between stretches. There’s a fine line between enthusiasm and addiction. Both, however, can lead to fatigue.
How to Identify Burnout
One of the most obvious signs of burnout is apathy. Instead of feeling energized, if a once-loved activity has become emotionally exhausting, you’re probably getting burned out.
The next typical phase of social media burnout is radio silence. Whether you’re putting off responding to an email, a tweet, or relaying feedback to your team, you’re hurting your community and your brand’s reputation. Although you might think that ignoring social channels will help relieve fatigue, without a backup plan your community will suffer.
If you’re burned out, not only are your customers not getting the support they need, but your team is missing out on valuable opportunities as well. In any industry, being able to delegate is an important quality to have. However, there’s a difference between delegating and dropping the ball. If team members are continuously having to pick up your slack, you’re distracting them from their own responsibilities and goals.
Although being comfortable seems like a positive thing, sometimes comfort can lead to stagnation and mental ruts. In social media, it’s especially important that you’re willing to adapt and grow as the industry changes. Everyone has a routine, but it’s necessary to ask yourself if there are any habits or dependencies that are holding you back.
How to Overcome Burnout
Overcoming burnout can be as simple as taking more breaks. Physically get away from your desk more often. Unplug and eat your lunch away from the glow of a monitor. Adopt a new fitness routine that doesn’t involve you checking your smartphone from the treadmill. Stop blurring the lines between online and offline communication. This week, try ditching the online Twitter chat and attend an offline networking event instead.
If you need more of a mental break, make sure someone else can fill your shoes while you’re away. Hire a social media manager or an additional community manager that can help carry your load. Maybe then you’ll feel better about turning off some of your work notifications when you’re spending time with family and friends.
If you’re responsible for the daily maintenance of several social accounts, try out some new tools. For example, a Social media management tool can significantly simplify the way you engage with, monitor, and report on your community.
Burnout is an undeniable sign that something isn’t working. At the end of the day, it all comes down to your passion for the industry. If you’ve lost your enthusiasm and willingness to learn and try new strategies, then it’s time to think about your goals and what’s truly important to you. Burnout doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Use this as an opportunity to rediscover what makes you happy.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.