Due to it’s “always on” nature, it is perhaps obvious that working in social media can be a very stressful occupation.
However, the reality is that many CEO’s or directors often don’t know or appreciate that. According to a recent survey we carried out with social media exec’s, they are under a huge amount of stress, often single-handedly expected to manage the businesses social media presence. This includes the content design and scheduling, customer interactions and all risk. Social media never sleeps and the employee is expected to keep up to date 24/7 with all elements of the businesses online presence. This has become an increasingly stressful and frustrating role as the online space becomes weaponised.
Social media was already becoming a hostile and toxic place before the global Covid-19 Pandemic, this has only intensified during lockdown, where online is the one aspect of our lives that hasn’t been taken away from us. Before the pandemic we saw algorithms push users further into their own echo chambers and their views became more and more polarised. This coupled with hostile state interference to affect elections and flood the internet with fake news created a pressure cooker effect, weaponising the online space.
The social media employee is supposed to promote their company, protect the brand, deal with all elements of customer service and all while navigating this weaponised space. One person usually has a disproportionate amount of work on their shoulders –
Social media employees talk about having to change their marketing techniques in line with the changes due to the pandemic. This includes more posting, more content, being vigilant 24/7 and beyond and treading the careful line between relevance and risk. They feel like as conventional avenues to sales are closed, the pressure to fill this gap falls to them with online marketing. All of these adjustments need to be made in a world they are noticing is more sensitive and more harmful, which requires them to be very careful in the approach. Customers or protagonists seem to be more stressed themselves and can be more aggressive to deal with. The social media employee feels like they are on the front line, dealing with these issues in isolation and without the necessary support.
Social media employees feel like these pressures are going unnoticed while we work in ‘the new normal’ from home. The feeling that management and non social media staff don’t fully understand the online world has only been heightened by the pandemic as isolation at home hides the pressures and 24/7 nature of the job. This feels particularly unfair when you consider the low pay these employees normally receive, for a role that is effectively 24/7 and on call.
In this new normal world, all of these pressures and challenges expose the employee and the company to substantial risk. If these roles have changed that profoundly during the pandemic, the first concern has to be the employee’s mental health and wellbeing. It is imperative that companies take this very seriously and provide the care and supportive frameworks necessary to protect their staff. The company’s reputation is at its highest risk exposure yet from online harm by protagonists, social engineering, hacking, stalking and a general increase in online users. Ensuring that these risks are covered is one of the greatest challenges facing business today.