4 ways to avoid community manager burnout

As the online face of your company, you put a lot of time, sweat, and tears into your work. Here are four ways to keep from wearing out.

There are many articles that talk about what it takes to be a community manager and what the community manager’s role is in a company, but there’s something we don’t talk about enough—how easy it is to burn out from the position.

Being an online public face isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. There’s a dark side to being online all the time. Community managers have to handle several social media identities across a host of platforms, wrangle fans, bring out the best in people, respond to attacks, and constantly defend their jobs to people in their organizations and their lives.

The people who spend their days working to build these communities and who live such public lives can easily burn out. They work on too many problems and sites, and they try to be too many things to too many people.

If you’re a community manager, how do you prevent burnout? If you’re an executive for a brand, how do you ensure your community manager keeps his or her job for a long time? It is not only expensive to hire someone new, it makes it more difficult for your community to trust your public face.

Below are a few tips to prevent community manager burnout:

1. Set boundaries.

Set boundaries for yourself and your community. For example:

  • When are you “on” as a community manager, and at what time do you turn off?
  • How often will you check in with various social networks?
  • What’s the priority level of each site?
  • How will you decide what to track?

It’s important to answer these questions, because they will help guide your online interaction and set limits that will help you maintain your sanity.

Not long ago, people expected community managers to be on the job 24×7 because we have Web-enabled phones and constant Internet access. Thankfully, people are starting to step away from this belief and set up operating times.

This is beneficial for a couple of reasons. First, it tells your community when you’re actively listening and ready to engage, which helps calibrate user expectations. If you tell your community members you’re online between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., they won’t look for you at 10 p.m. when they have a question.

Setting operating hours also gives you the time you need to detach. You can’t live online all the time. You would go crazy—and you’d take a lot of people with you.

2. Find your tools.

Don’t think you need to do everything by hand to effectively engage with your community. To save time and mental energy, seek out tools that can help you do your job more efficiently.

A tool like UberVu provides you with real-time analytics, a dashboard to track all your social metrics (fans, followers, mentions, etc.), demographics information, the ability to assign tasks and manage your team from a central dashboard, and more.

Community managers for larger brands might already have something like this in-house, but UberVu can help small and mid-size companies streamline what could otherwise be a fragmented and time-consuming process.

ViralHeat is another social analytics program that tracks mentions, measures sentiment, and gives you the insight to be ostensibly in multiple places at the same time. Viral Heat also integrates with SalesForce to help you manage the leads you acquire through social channels.

Another great tool is Mention Mapp, which helps you discover groups of people that Twitter users connect with the most. Type in a username, and watch it generate a visual representation of that person’s relationships. If you want to understand who influences whom or find clusters you think your community should be part of, Mention Mapp can help you.

These tools are just a tiny sample of what’s out there. Depending on what your tasks are, there are tools to help with content management, event tracking, managing multiple Twitter accounts, etc.

3. Befriend other community managers.

As a community manager, it’s important to have an outlet—people to talk to who understand what you do and what you struggle with. If you can’t attend a conference or live event with other community managers, participate in Twitter chats. There’s a communication manager chat—#CmgrChat—every Wednesday from 2-3 p.m. EST.

If you’re not ready to participate in the chats, at least monitor them. Twitter chats aren’t just a chance for you to learn about issues your colleagues face, but a good way to highlight your brand and the community you’re forming.

If Twitter chats aren’t your scene, talk to your boss or the people on your team. They might provide answers you wouldn’t have found on your own, or they might suggest cool, new ideas.

4. Keep your perspective.

If you can’t blog today, the world won’t explode. If you can’t tweet because you’re sick, your community will be there tomorrow. If you wait to respond to that blog comment until after lunch, the world will forgive you.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it, I swear it’s true!

We hire community managers to serve on the front lines of our brand. Make sure you take care of your brand’s public face, because although burnout is dangerous, it’s even more dangerous when the person burning out has access to the company Twitter account.

All you community managers out there, how do you avoid burnout?

Lisa Barone is the chief branding officer of Outspoken Media. She’s also very active on Twitter, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.


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