Don’t Feed the Trolls


Social media professionals hear this advice all the time. Viewing constant negativity is bad for our health – it can lead to trauma, stress, anxiety, even depression. It’s one of the top reasons for burnout in our industry and it can be hard to overcome. That’s why it’s important to establish boundaries. Ignoring your institution’s social media after hours is easier said than done, because the Internet simply doesn’t close at 5pm. Monitoring, listening, responding, and posting happens 24/7 and it takes a toll on all of us.

Here are some ways to combat negativity and social media fatigue while keeping your chin up.

  1. Work with your manager to construct rules for after hours. Create a plan where you only check-in after the workday for emergencies, or only during special events each semester. This can help lower your stress level and give you more peace of mind.
  2. Turn off notifications. This can be tricky, as some of my fellow eduWeb friends have experienced. You might want the notifications on during the workday, but at night it’s a different story. Look through all your notifications and decide what’s important and what you can live without. Alternatively, you can also set up ‘do not disturb’ time on your mobile device.
  3. Use social media management software. Tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Sprinklr, Falcon, or Buffer can change your job as a social media manager. They can help automate some of your work and allow you to schedule posts after hours and assist with alerts or keywords. This gives you more free time after the workday to relax and less time posting or scheduling in the evening hours.
  4. Create automated responses for Facebook Messenger. Use the bot feature. This is another time-saver and you don’t have to worry about your Facebook response rating. Creating a bot can give people the answers they’re looking for, or at least allow you 24 hours to respond if you choose to incorporate that language into your newly created Messenger bot.
  5. Hire awesome interns. Internships can create opportunities for students looking to work in the field after graduation, but a well-trained intern can also be a life saver and provide after-hours coverage, which can give you more time to enjoy dinner, or go see the latest Marvel film or a concert.
  6. Stay positive. According to Pew Research, 45% of Americans think it’s more important to allow people to speak freely on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media outlets, but 53% of Americans feel it is more important for everyone to feel welcome and safe when using social media. When you see trolls commenting on your social media posts, remember they don’t know you, and many times they also don’t know the university you represent — it’s not personal no matter what they share. I know it can still be extremely hard to absorb or understand how another human being could say such things, but remember they’re hiding for a reason. On the positive side, there are many stakeholders (students, alumni, staff, faculty) who help self-police comments and come to your aid. Of course, if it gets way out of hand and you need to assemble your crisis communication team, there are more actions you can take.

Bottom line, don’t feed the trolls and don’t let them get you down. Help make the Internet and the social media world shine by infecting others with positivity. It can be hard, but we need to have each other’s back on this. Our health and our livelihood depend on it.