Don’t feed the trolls. Social media professionals hear it 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 company or institution’s social media after hours is easier said than done, because the Internet doesn’t close at 5pm. Monitoring, listening, responding, and posting happens 24/7 and it takes a toll on all of us.

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Here are some ways to combat trolls, 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 work day for emergencies, or only during special events. It can help lower your stress level and give you more peace of mind.
  2. Turn off notifications. This can be tricky. You might want the notifications on during the work day, but at night it’s a different story. Look through all your notifications and decide what’s important and what you can live without. You can also set up ‘do not disturb’ time on your mobile device.
  3. Use social media management software like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Spriklr, or Buffer. It 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 work day to relax and less time posting or scheduling in the evening hours.
  4. Create automated responses for Facebook Messenger. Use the bot feature. This can give you more time to relax and less time worrying about your response rating. Creating a bot can give people the answers they are looking for, or at least allow you 24 hours to respond to the message if you choose to incorporate that language into your newly created bot.
  5. Hire 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, go see that new Spiderman movie, see a concert, or just enjoy life more…
  6. Stay positive. According to Pew Research, 45% of Americans think its more important to allow people 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 or the company you represent — it’s not personal no matter what they share. I know it’s still hard to absorb and even understand how another human being could say such things, but remember they’re hiding for a reason – they are not real comments, or they’re just cowards. On the positive side, there are real people who will help self-police comments and come to your aid on certain posts. These are your stakeholders and influencers and they definitely exist. It might not always work out, but at least you know that they’re real people that care about your company or institution and knowing that should help us sleep just a little bit better at night. Of course if it gets out of hand and you need to assemble your crisis team, there are more actions you can take.

Bottomline, don’t feed the trolls and don’t be a troll. Be the opposite of a troll and help make the Internet and social media shine by infecting others with your positivity. It can be hard, but we need to have each other’s back on this. Our health and our livelihood depend on it.