For Individuals, Social Media Managers & Brands.
There have been many studies on the impact that social media can have on our mental health, and it has long been discussed that spending too much time on social media platforms can have a negative impact on our mental health and wellbeing. Social Media has become ingrained into everyday life, as individuals users, and as businesses. It is an essential tool for businesses, and a valuable one in terms of connectivity. We’ve seen that the past year more than ever. That said, we can’t and shouldn’t ignore the effects social media can have, and we can all use it more consciously to help reduce those detrimental effects in favour of a more positive experience.
Here we will be looking at how to take care of your mental health when it comes to social media, especially if you’re a frequent user, a social media manager or a brand owner finding yourself immersed in the online world that can sometimes seem overwhelming.
How YOU as an individual can take better care of your mental health on social media
Social media is designed to bring you closer to the people, brands, experiences and causes you care most about. It aims to connect you to like-minded people, inspire and educate you and help you overcome communication barriers. It’s at the end of our fingertips, in our technologically optimised smartphones and tablets to make it accessible, always on, and a constant tool at our disposal.
The past year is proof of that alone. We’ve all relied on technology and social media platforms to stay connected to those we can’t physically be with, but what happens when the reliance on social media, and the increasing amount of time we spend on it begins to turn on us? Overuse, or using it in the wrong way can result in those feelings we see documented around loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression.
The key for social media is to use it consciously, not passively. Be aware of your usage, both in terms of how you interact and your consumption. It’s so easy to sit and scroll without thinking too much about it, but here are things to look out for that may be contributing to a negative experience, and how to combat them.
Who you follow
A really easy one, but follow people that inspire you or make you feel good about yourself. Unfollow anyone that makes you envious, inadequate or in some way lacking. Follow profiles that add something positive to your online experience, whether it’s helpful tips, information, humour, relatability or just feel good content.
Remember that social media is a highlight reel. People share the good stuff and it’s a shop window of their lives. Be aware of it and don’t let yourself feel like you’re missing out or your life is somehow not as interesting.
Triggering or Negative Content
Ever feel like all you see is negative news stories or people complaining? Or on a bigger level triggering content about a topic you’re sensitive to? The block and mute tools are powerful things you shouldn’t be afraid to use and they will help you take ownership of what you see on your own feeds.
You can also block hashtags, key words and certain phrases in comments if you need to, making your social feeds a more pleasant place to be.
Address your own actions and activity
Taking ownership of your social media activity is a really important thing for your wellbeing. It can all too easily become a distraction from real life interactions with people you’re physically present with, or exacerbate any negative feelings you’re already experiencing. What should be a way to connect, actually disconnects you further from those around you.
Ways to address this could include turning notifications off when you’re with friends or family so they aren’t a distraction. Track the amount of time you’re spending through the in app settings, set no phone zones such as at the dinner table, and if needed give yourself a digital detox. All of these tips will only enhance the time you do spend on social media.
Take a look at the interactions you have online. Consider every comment you make - is it positive, is it kind, is it necessary? If not, don’t post it.
Similarly be responsible with what you share. It is very easy to read a headline, believe it and pass it straight on without reading the full article. Fake news and click bait is more widely spread than ever, so before you click share ask yourself if it’s a credible source.
Social networks like Twitter and Facebook have very recently tried to tackle this, by alerting you if you’re about to share something if you haven’t actually read it. Be responsible with your sharing.
How Brands can deliver a positive experience on social media
Brands must recognise that although social media is a brilliant place to promote your products or service, there comes with it a responsibility to your audience and customers just as there would be in a physical store or premises. Health and safety applies online too. Here’s some things to consider.
Create a Social media policy or guidelines
Managing an online community especially if you have a large fan base is your responsibility if conversations are occurring on your profiles, in groups you manage and even your comments section.
Encouraging conversations and feedback is always great and should be done, it will benefit your brand, but set some housekeeping rules of conduct for anyone participating in those spaces, and deal with any abuse or inappropriate behavior if you see it.
Similarly with your staff, set a social media policy so they know what is or isn’t appropriate behaviour on social media if they represent your business.
Share the good you are doing
Amongst your usual content, share anything you’re doing that shows change, positivity or the human side of your business. If you’re partnering with a charity, having an internal bake sale, donating to a cause, or even addressing your impact on the environment - it’s content that people like to see as it makes a difference to their online experience.
Raise awareness for issues close to your brand, and support online movements genuinely, not because a hashtag is trending.
Give your customers a positive experience
It’s no secret that people can hit brands hard on social media, especially if they aren’t happy. How you handle this speaks volumes about you as a brand and will ultimately leave customers and your audience in a better head space than when they initially came to you with their issue.
Apologise, try to de-escalate the problem, and where possible take the conversation offline to a phone call. Add initials or a name to any online replies, reminding them that there are real people on the end of the conversation, as it connects much better.
Have clear processes for dealing with unhappy customers and stick to it. It would also be a good idea to have a crisis management policy in place in case a situation does escalate so it is clear for staff how to handle it, and customers get a consistent, reliable response.
How can Social Media Managers look after their mental health?
Social Media Managers are likely to spend more time online than anyone, and they’re responsible for brands online, as well as their own personal experience. The tips shared above for individual use of social media very much apply, but here’s some additional tips to consider that could help you.
Plan plan plan.
The work of a social media manager is never done, there is always something to be done, a new development to learn and content to create. Having an organised plan for all your work will undoubtedly help you stay on top of your game, and when something reactive, spontaneous or viral comes along you’ll have the time to act on it without worrying about the rest.
Try not to take it personally
This doesn’t just apply to social media managers, it applies to anyone working in social media especially in customer service. As mentioned before people often behave very differently online behind a screen than they would in person, and dealing with this negativity repeatedly can be draining.
Take frequent breaks, and work with your team to have consistent responses and processes in place to deal with these types of comments, and remember not to take it personally.
And finally, something that everyone should remember whether you’re a social media user, work in the field, or own a brand with an online presence..
Don’t be afraid to ask for help or support
Speak with your friends or family, ask your colleagues for second opinions or to check your work, raise issues you’re struggling with, consult official resources, and don’t suffer in silence.
By applying these tips hopefully you can manage your online experience of social media in any capacity, and make it the positive, connective space it should be that adds value rather than takes it away.
For social media advice, consultations or a discussion on how Wriggle can help you with your brands social media contact the team today.