How do you unplug when your job is social media? Can you unplug and disconnect from social media when your job is social media? Be honest: how many times have you checked social media today? How many platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube do you visit each day and how often?
As a social media professional you are expected to be online every day, all day, and the question here is: can you unplug?
The next question that needs to be answered is; do you unplug? Is your mental health important to you: do you take a social media timeout when needed, maybe take time for meditation or experience real life.
Or instead, do you find yourself glued to your screens at all times, at all cost?
In this article, we will discuss strategies to implement in order to unplug from social media, specifically keeping those of you who work in social media in mind!
As we all know, social media is a 24/7 thing.
It. Just. Never. Stops.
Since social media allows people to connect with others from all around the world, there is always someone to talk to, respond to, and engage with no matter what time of day, or night, you might be logging on.
Social media has made the world as we know it smaller by reconnecting us with old friends, helping us find long-lost family members and by affording us the luxury to cultivate new friendships with interesting people from around the globe, from the comfort of our home.
So far, so good, right?
Since social media is so highly effective in reaching people: more specifically reaching a certain demographic and even reaching one person at a time, social media is also a great way to market to those very specific (targeted) people.
Who Are ‘Those People’ Who Are Marketing on Social Media?
There are many distinct groups of marketers who make their living on social media. Below are some examples of social-media-related jobs.
There are digital marketers, SEO specialists, Ad specialists, web designers, copywriters, bloggers, influencers, graphic designers, content marketers, email marketers, PR consultants, coaches, video stars, social media strategists, social media consultants, community managers and social media managers, just to name a few.
All but a few of the careers mentioned above work based on projects, often with a very specific time allotment to get the job done.
Two of those mentioned, specifically community managers and social media managers, seem to have a different job description altogether.
It seems that since social media is 24/7, a job in social media (or community) management can be expected to be a 24/7 job as well.
Or is it?
- Maybe… these social media managers who are on 24/7 have a case of FOMO; Fear of Missing Out.
- Perhaps… these social media managers who are on 24/7 are expected by an employer to monitor social media 24/7.
- Perchance… these social media managers who are on 24/7 are starting a business and feel the need to respond to all inquiries immediately, no matter when these come in, day or night.
Whatever the reason might be for being on call 24/7, can you say ‘burn out’?
In-house or Freelance, Do You Work 24/7?
No one in any job can be expected to be on call 24/7, and perform well!
Doctors and nurses in hospitals work in 8 or 12-hour shifts. They then go home and ‘recharge their batteries’. Truck drivers are mandated to take breaks after driving a certain number of hours, often parking in specially designated parking areas at rest stops along the interstate.
Most professions have safeguards in place to prevent burnout, illness and human mistakes that would come with working too long, too many hours.
Yet both (some, not all) in-house social media managers and (some, not all) freelance social media managers do report being ‘on-call 24/7’.
As this is a fairly new industry might we assume that because it is so new, no regulations, or industry standards, have been set?
It might just not be THAT simple.
Despite social media and community management being an extremely fast-growing industry with high demand for skilled personnel, budget cuts in marketing departments and a competitive hiring environment have driven the market for entry-level social media marketers to the point of lower pay for higher workloads.
Therefore the best way for any social media manager to combat this issue is to gain as many new skills set as possible, as fast as possible. The more certifications, courses, new knowledge and work experience the social media manager has, the better the compensation and work environment s/he can demand of a potential employer.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!
Fortunately, though, only a small minority of current social media managers is expected to be on call 24/7. They often work alone, as freelancers or at startups.
We are also glad to report that the social media managers who report not being pressured to be online, on-call 24/7, are often part of a team.
It appears that having multiple people on a team to manage social media is one of the best strategies to prevent burnout in social media managers.
Since not every social media manager is part of a team, and many social media managers are either solopreneurs or freelancers or work as the sole social media manager in their marketing department, we set out to find out how social media managers do unplug to keep their sanity!
We found a great resource for this article in our Social Media Manager Facebook group. It is a giving community filled with people from all walks of life, all different backgrounds and from many different countries. These social media managers have skills, information and above all, experience and expertise in the world of social media management!
When one of the members asked the question:
So How Do You Unplug From “Work” When Your Job is in Social Media?
…and we read the answers, we knew we had to write this article to share with those outside of our community!
We have identified five major strategies in helping you unplug from social media if you work as a social media manager.
We sincerely hope that there is at least one new, useful tip or trick for each and every one of you! [Don’t forget to let us know in the comments if you found a new favorite way to unplug after going through this list.]
1) Set Boundaries
The majority of social media managers unplug by first setting boundaries for themselves, and then set up boundaries with their clients and/or boss. Once these boundaries are put in place, it is important to then create a written a plan, in order to stick to them. Here are some of the ways social media managers unplug:
Set Those Boundaries:
- Set up both personal and work email accounts.
- Turn work email notifications off when leaving the office.
- Stick to set hours, especially when working as a freelancer, and turn the computer off when work is completed or when leaving the home office.
- Set communication boundaries and expectations with your clients.
- Set communication boundaries and expectations with your boss.
- Change email notification on phone from push to pull.
- Only check email at set times during the day.
- Take a lunch break.
- Stick to work hours.
- Close tabs in the browser when not in use.
- Use vacation time to unwind.
- Set reasonable response time expectations with clients.
- Set reasonable response time expectations for any online communications.
Stop That Phone From Alerting Tricks:
- Turn your phone off
- Mute your phone
- Stop all app notifications
- Use airplane mode
- Set ‘Do Not Disturb’ to set hours, or when in a conversation
- Put your phone down
- Delete all social apps
- Remove Apple watch after work hours
We do understand that when you have a boss, or a direct manager, who has previously relied on you to answer and respond 24/7 that this process of ‘taking back time’ might take a while. We suggest you start with setting small goals. If you are new to social media management, realize that being on-call 24/7 is not sustainable for a long period of time.
You will need a break eventually; you will need to find ways to unplug before you break down.
2) Go Cold Turkey
Those who’ve been in social media management longer, advocate planning to go completely dark several times per year in order to completely unplug!
Yes, ‘going dark’ means unplugging completely for an extended period of time as in; a 4-day weekend, or a week or two of vacation! Detoxing from social media can be a powerful way to ‘reset’ your previous mindset of the 24/7 workday.
- Going off the grid completely –> leave all electronics at home.
- Go where there is no Wi-Fi and no coverage or cell towers.
It is tempting to bring your phone along when you are out and about, or on vacation, as many of us use our Smartphone as our camera to document family events, not just work related images. Just be mindful of time spent with family and in nature, and leave the phone in your backpack, purse, or back pocket in order to be present.
3) Stick with Routines & Processes
Another group of social media managers reports that being organized; sticking with daily routines and proven processes, is the key to being able to unplug from social media. Here are some routines these highly organized social media managers implement:
Routines To Use:
- Daily to-do list
- Weekly to-do list
- Editorial Calendars
- Content Calendars
- Detailed scope of work
- Batching tasks
- Scheduling posts
One important additional benefit that comes with being organized is that once routines and processes are in place, repetitive and undesirable tasks can be outsourced to free up more time! Once your daily to-do list is done, it’s time to unplug.
4) Crazy Hacks That Just Might Be Crazy Enough To Work
This article would not be complete without giving you the full details of some of the crazy things social media managers do to save time, get away from social or try to unplug. We say these ‘crazy hacks might just be crazy enough to work’!
- Get a second smartphone and then use one for work, one for personal use only.
- Do not add social media to your Smartphone.
- Hide your phone.
- Lock your phone in a box.
- Hire a ‘social-sitter’ to take over when you are off the clock or on vacation.
- Only work on a desktop.
- Stick with ‘No Social Sunday’ or ‘Self-Care Saturday’
- Use the ‘save’ feature on Facebook articles when you see yourself go down the rabbit hole.
Sadly, there are some social media managers, and community managers, who feel that they can’t unplug, ever, or who seem to wear it as a badge of honor.
The best way to move away from being on-call 24/7 is to create a team. As stated above, those social media managers who are part of a team report that they do feel they can unplug after-hours, and more importantly, relax and recharge!
For those who work alone, however, a Smartphone can be their lifeline to new business opportunities and most will take their phone wherever they go. They have set expectations for themselves to ‘answer the call’, ‘respond to the email’ or ‘reply to the text’ no matter what time of day it. If this is you, at least start allowing yourself breaks.
5) Allow Yourself Breaks
We understand that some social media managers may feel the need to be available 24/7. Whether this is self-imposed or expected by a boss, there are still ways to ‘unplug’ for shorter periods of time.
Strategies For Short Time Outs:
- Set a timer to go off every 30 minutes. Get up and stretch.
- Use a remind app or chime app to get up and move every 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes, etc.
- Set self-imposed “no social media” rules as in; no social media at the dinner table, no social media when walking your dog, no social media when in a meeting, no phone at church, no phone when you go for a run, etc.
- Turn on ‘Do Not Disturb’ at night for all but most important clients/accounts.
- Ask your family to help you detox from social media.
- Add one fun ‘no-social-media-allowed’ activity to your calendar each week.
- Be intentional with your projects and work. Each time you finish a task, celebrate by taking a 5-minute break.
- Find a new hobby or sport to dive into.
If this article hasn’t inspired you to put your phone down just yet and unplug, check out some of the interesting hobbies social media managers have outside of their work!
What Does a Social Media Manager Do When Not on Social Media?
The better question to ask is, ‘what don’t they do?’
Here is a list of things social media managers love to do once they unplug!
Run, practice yoga, grow a garden and read. Hike, cook, go kiteboarding and swim. Sleep, watch TV, play video games, and nap. Walk the dogs, watch movies, watch Netflix, and write. Ride motorcycles, exercise, crochet and knit. Visit the beach, go on a nature walk, play golf, and take long walks. Attend the gym, do some coloring, play board games and take a hot bath. Sit in the hot tub, paint, train for a marathon, and drink. Visit the theater, play music, watch the sunset, and play sports. Practice martial arts, photography, skiing, and CrossFit. Puzzles, art, community involvement, and volunteer. Charity, spend time with family, play games on phone, and videography.
No matter what recharges your battery, we encourage you to spend time doing the things you love doing. It will make a difference in your overall work performance and the quality of your home life.
I am a Certified Social Media Manager, Strategist, International Keynote Speaker, Organic Specialist and Agile marketer! Blogging is my creative outlet. Running, hiking and skiing are how I recharge. You’ll recognize me on stage and online by my always present orange glasses, a nod to my Dutch heritage.