Managing social media is a roller coaster full of climbs, free falls and loop-de-loops. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned after a few years on this ride, it’s that the ups and downs take a toll.
Off-hand, it would seem like bad news would take the greatest toll — the inevitable anger, shame, blame and frustration are magnified on the social media stage. Recordings of a teacher using inappropriate language in class. Accusations of bullying on school buses. The sudden resignation of a principal.
When people are upset, we manage it until the storm passes. That takes a toll. But the reality is this: an intense spotlight will burn you up, no matter the issue.
In Eudora, we have had great success with a few high-profile advocacy posts, including one that catapulted our content across platforms and conservatively reached roughly 100,000 people (our small town has just 6,000 residents). Because that particular message was written to be shared, it could be considered a success. But it took a toll.
I’ve learned over and again that I need balance to manage the intense exposure that social media can create. We can’t fit our work into a tidy 8-5 weekday slot, and our audiences expect us to be available when they are. These strategies can help us avoid becoming completely tapped out:
1. Enlist others on the team, in your district, or even a school PR colleague elsewhere, to help monitor and respond when the spotlight is bright. You cannot do it all, all the time. Ask for help.
2. Once the crisis has peaked and the spotlight dims a bit, listen to what you need. It may be a long lunch with a trusted friend to vent and debrief, a mental health day away from the office, or even a day spent wandering around a school with a camera, just to reconnect with kids and teachers.
3. Make your family a priority and remember that your personal life is just as (dare I say more) important as your professional life.
Don’t be afraid to tell your boss — and allow yourself — what you need to be well. After all, knowing you will have time to recharge afterward makes it less frustrating when things pop up, especially outside of office hours. The spotlight takes a toll, and you’ll be better at your job (and happier, period) if you seek to balance those demands with your wellness.