Find your squad, recharge and stay rooted: Self-Care for Social Media Professionals (Part 3)


This post is republished with permission from the Government Social Media Organization.

Strangely enough, social media can get pretty lonely and isolated if we let it. But there’s strength in communities, and no social media manager is an island. While we call it self-care, putting the social back in social media manager is real and necessary to get us through the rough patches and savor what drives us to tell our stories on social.

This is the last of a series of three articles, where Jessie Brown, social media coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Council Member of the Government Social Media Organization, and Co-Executive Director of Social Media Club Des Moines, digs into this major concern among social media professionals – and offers suggestions and tips from other pros to be the best, healthiest you that you can be. See the previously published Part 1 & Part 2.

Find your squad

If you’re an island in your office, know there’s a sea of support outside those walls. Find your community – look for supportive organizations like your local Social Media Club and Government Social Media Organization and engage with their community forums, Twitter chats and Facebook groups. Strike up relationships with your counterparts in other agencies or similar businesses or organizations.

“Have other contacts that do the same thing,” says Brooke Miller, who leads social media efforts for Travel Iowa. “Even if they aren’t in exactly your same position, it can help to have someone to vent to and bounce ideas off of.”

Brooke Miller

Meet up for coffee to discuss strategies and opportunities, share resources, and just vent. Vent it all out. Because some days we need that.

“We have a term at work where we say, ‘go to the koi pond first.’ We step away from the keyboard and take a walk around the police station to the koi pond out back – that we don’t really have, but imagine we do,” says Deputy Chief Chris Hsiung with the City of Mountain View, California, Police Department. “It helps put things in perspective and respond with a ‘high road’ response instead of replying emotionally. It’s also tremendously helpful to have a network of other social media managers to bounce things off of, vent or seek advice from.”

Deputy Chief Chris Hsiung

When you see your comrades in crisis mode because of some PR disaster, controversial issue, or dare we say, a random spelling or grammar error, reach out. Share your support in the comments, if appropriate, and send a message to let them know they’re doing great work. Ask if you can bring them lunch or take them out for a drink after work. Even when we work for different groups, we’re still on the same team.

Ask for help if you need it

As much as I would like to believe it, I can’t control everything. Sometimes, we just need help. It could be the result of success and growing presences – talk to your supervisor about opportunities to bring on interns, additional staff, pulling in other team members to help, or setting time boundaries. Be prepared with a list of what you could accomplish with extra resources and the benefits to the organization.

Remember your squad – lean on them for support during the rough days, and make them your go-to for finding resources and insights for issues and problems.

And if it’s just too much, do not be afraid to ask your HR department, your primary care provider or a trusted friend for counseling resources.

Mental health days are real. And they’re spectacular

If you’re stressed, live with depression, anxiety or another mental illness, take mental health days to recharge and reset with no shame. You’ll be better energized to take on the interwebs when you return.

“Take time for yourself,” says Sam Hoyle, founder of New Tribe Media and co-Founder of RackHouse Whiskey Club. “Set up your notifications to only cover essentials like messages and periodically check in to social on your schedule.”

Sam Hoyle

It doesn’t have to be a whole day, either – take breaks with the Pomodoro technique mentioned earlier. Get up and stretch. Take an extra long walk to a bathroom on another floor. Walk over to chat with a coworker. Walk at lunch. A few of us meet twice a week over lunch in a conference room to do yoga videos. Find a way to move!

Keep it up when you go home – find something that helps you relax and is self-care to you. Exercise, bake, read, draw, play Candy Crush, watch How I Met Your Mother reruns, craft, build model cars. You do you.

Never forget why you love this job

Have fun with it! If you can, be playful and fun with your brand voice – like I said, I love me some Dad jokes, bad puns and not-so-obscure pop culture references. I’ve done everything from David S. Pumpkins spider jokes on Halloween to “Thank u, next” after the last long winter that never seemed to end.

When they go low in the comments, you go high.

“When things are getting super negative, I try to come up with a post that’s positive,” says Kristen Waggener, communication lead for the City of Bryan, Texas and former GSMO Leadership Council member. “When I’m feeling overwhelmed by the stress and negativity, I’ll do a ‘tell us why you like Lenexa’ post and give away some swag. We get flooded with dozens and dozens of positive comments.”

Kristen Waggener

What drew you to your job? Was it connecting with people? A way to promote a mission and vision you feel invested in? Reconnect with that.

“I have a hobby – birdwatching and wildlife photography – that helps me take my mind off the negativity and reminds me why I got into this line of work,” says Tim Akimoff, who helms social for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “When you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to see what’s happening. I try to pull back before I dive in and try to understand what the root cause is, why people are lashing out, and what bigger story can my agency benefit in telling better.”

Tim Akimoff

Track your accomplishments. If you have awards on your shelf to polish, great. But start small – what did you accomplish today? Bet it’s a lot more than you realize if you make a list. Take a good look at your social analytics and KPIs – you’re probably doing great things but get caught up in the daily grind. Track your progress weekly, monthly, yearly. Use those stats to pad some award applications, too – check out programs like Social Media Club Des Moines’ Hashie Awards or GSMCON’s Golden Post Awards, for example.

Share your accomplishments with your agency on the regular – monthly update reports, something to hand your boss at your review – to show the incredible work you’re doing, whether they support your work tremendously or if they think social is a job for an intern, a passing fad or worse.

Because you got this. Suit up. #SocialSelfCare