Russell Dornan, Issue 119/06, 01.06.2019
Social media managers need your support
Burnout can affect people in any position and sector, but running social media for museums, usually alongside other duties, creates the perfect emotional cocktail.
First, there is the guilt. Social media is 24/7, which means you’re always on, sneaking online “out of hours” and unable to switch off. Replying to every question is already a challenge, never mind engaging with comments and shared stories (the meaningful bit). The guilt builds unhealthily: you’re sure you’re doing as much as you can, but it’s not enough.
Then there is the pressure. In addition to representing every aspect of the museum, “going viral” has been an unreasonable management desire for years. When it actually happens, the pressure is truly on. Despite these viral moments relying heavily on luck, too many people are waiting expectantly for their social media managers to make it happen.
And, lastly, there is the danger of low self-esteem. Managing social media effectively rests on investing a lot of yourself and your personality. Putting your heart on(the)line leaves it exposed; every jibe, negative comment and complaint cuts like a knife.
Like many people working in museums and galleries, social media managers go beyond their actual job descriptions, and their mental health is put to the test day after day.
Instead of taking advantage of social media staff, give them space, time and support. Without these, they’re running on fumes.
Russell Dornan is a digital producer at the V&A Dundee