Overwhelmed by Social Media? Don’t Be

by Vered DeLeeuw

“How can you do social media for a living and remain sane?” Asked me a colleague recently. She was talking about how she is constantly glued to her iPhone, responding to emails, to fan comments and complaints on her employer’s Facebook page. “It gets so stressful, I’m not even sure I want to do this anymore,” she said. “I’m just too tired.”

Here’s what I told her:

There’s this myth about the immediacy of social media. Now, it’s true that social media moves FAST – just take a look at your Twitter feed and you’ll see it for yourself – but, in my opinion, the sense of immediacy is misguided. The digital age has brought us amazing benefits, one of which is plenty of information right at our fingertips. But it also brought us the challenge of knowing when it’s time to give ourselves a break from this constant stimuli. The challenge of relearning how to slow down.

There’s absolutely no need to be glued to one’s iPhone. Yes, even if you’re a social media manager. There’s nothing about social media that says you have to respond to everything as it happens.It is absolutely fine to batch your work into several sessions each day instead of dealing with things as they come. So, for example, you could dedicate two hours each morning to reading and answering emails, checking social media accounts, posting new Facebook/Twitter posts and responding to fans. Then, during the next couple of hours, DISCONNECT. Turn off your phone, close browser windows for all emails and social media accounts, and focus on getting creative work done – after all, most of us social media types need to do a fair amount of writing and/or blogging.

After lunch, log back into the various accounts and spend one more hour responding as necessary. Repeat this one more time before you leave for the day.

Arranging your day this way means that while you don’t respond to things as they occur, you never allow more than a couple of hours to lapse before you check in and make sure everything is running smoothly.

“This sounds great,” my colleague said, “but what if something truly urgent happens?”

Well, define “urgent!” We’re not doctors on call, we’re not in the lifesaving business, although admittedly we do represent brands and an important part of our job is to protect those brands’ images. I still maintain, that even when a true social media disaster strikes, such as the infamous Nestle social media fiasco, there’s nothing wrong with not responding immediately.

In fact, responding too fast is probably what got the company’s social media person in trouble in the first place. When your brand goes through a social media attack, it is essential that you stay calm and think your response through. It’s also a good idea to escalate a really bad case to company executives, so that everyone can devise a plan together. In other words, even in the case of a really nasty social media attack, responding FAST is not the real priority. Responding SMART is.

Don’t be overwhelmed by social media. Social media moves fast, but you are in control of how much of it you consume and how often you dip into the stream of conversation. Even as a social media professional, it’s perfectly fine to pace yourself.

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