I don’t need to tell you that online community management is no cakewalk. The job is more fun than most, but it still comes with its fair share of stress and conflict.
What do you do when overwhelm sets in during the day and paralyzes you? Even if you’re tempted to do so, you probably don’t flail your arms and run screaming from the building. You probably sit quietly at your desk, holding it all inside until you feel like you might implode.
I’m here to discourage those potential implosions! Instead of bottling the stress, find a quick outlet and allow it to seep out without the freak-out. Like so:
1) Realize that many people have it worse than you do.
You may be a community manager in the middle of a crisis, but at least you haven’t completely snapped yet. Head over to The Creative Confessional and take a few minutes to read the no-holds-barred confessions and passive-aggressive tirades of other creative professionals if you want to see some real insanity. After a few minutes, you’ll probably be anxious to return to your day’s work and make a difference.
2) Have a sense of humor about the profession.
I know, I know, you truly love your job. I do, too. However, we can still relate when someone else publishes content that perfectly sums up how we feel during our lowest points. Read this article called “I’m a Social Media Community Manager!” on McSweeney’s and this comic strip called “Some Thoughts and Musings About Making Things for the Web” by The Oatmeal and you’ll surely laugh and forget why you were upset in the first place. (Warning: the comic has profanity, if you avoid that sort of thing).
3) Turn the negatives into positives with inspiration from others.
Many people may have told you to transform negatives through positives, but don’t swear it off as a cliché. Have you ever stopped to wonder why others swear by it so often? You can, in fact, give pessimism and doubt the boot by getting inspired! I head straight to TED Talks when I’m feeling creatively drained, and it picks me up in no time. One of the best things about TED Talks is the time flexibility; you can choose random videos of a specific length if you’re short on time.
This talk on creativity and passion, given by Julie Burstein, is one of my favorites. I love these lines: “There’s a fine line between what you can control and what you have to let go…. The best work comes out of the parts of life that are the most difficult.”
4) Take a few minutes for you-time.
Please keep your eye rolls to a minimum after I make this statement, okay? Sometimes you need to visit BuzzFeed and enjoy pictures of baby animals or kill a few minutes with fluff pieces. There’s no shame in enjoying feel-good articles, and doing so will clear your mind of any rage that caused you to seek refuge in the first place. You can’t knock it until you’ve tried it! And if adorable puppies and juicy gossip doesn’t take your mind off the stress, then you may have a serious issue on your hands.
5) Privately write down what you’re feeling when the anxiety sets in.
Go ahead – free write and get it all out of your system. Pretend you’re writing an open letter to your stressors (whether they’re physical or mental) and of course, don’t show anyone else. Then, go back to work. At least 24 hours later, read what you wrote and pick out any valid points. If you’re frustrated about a common occurrence, then other community managers will likely feel the same way and appreciate your views in the form of a polished blog post.
Whatever you do, don’t take out your frustrations on the audience. It’s never a good idea. That should go without saying, but it’s happened before and it’ll undoubtedly happen again. Now, go forth and blow off steam in safety!
How do you cope with frustrations? Do you have any advice for other community managers?
Image cred: Clipart.com