We’ve reached the winter of our social media discontent. We’re all feeling it. The days are cold, the internet is dark, and it feels hopeless at times.
As a result, community managers are enduring the relentless barrage of troll behavior on social media.
If you’re not a community manager, then you’ll want to read on to see the extent of what they have faced on the social media frontlines in the last 12 months. If you are a community manager, then you will most likely nod your head in agreement.
CMGR vs. SMM
Before we dig in, I’d like to share a bit about the difference in some roles of Social Media Management.
Social media managers (SMM) often create content and post on behalf of the brand. For B Squared Media, the community manager (CMGR) is a team member that replies and engages with the brand’s community. It’s the community manager who reads each post, likes (?), comments, or shares on the brand’s social platforms and takes action! If you’d like more clarification on different roles, Sprout Social has a great article about it here.
So, let’s give community managers the spotlight. They are the switchboard operators of social media, making sure no line of communication is lost. With late nights and consistent attention to detail, this role deserves appreciation.
Social Media, Weaponized
The discontent of social media followers has grown over the last twelve months. It’s been a dreary winter and we’re all exhausted from snowstorms, COVID, politics, and stress from the work/home balance. This pent up frustration is easily redirected at companies. But we of course know that it’s not the brand taking the brunt of their anger, it’s the individual community managers.
Trolls, activists, angry customers – the CMGRs see it all. The following is a sampling of what comes across their screen.
What is the point of random spam messages? Typically, spammers post spam comments with the intention of linking back to their own sites. It’s sketchy, to say the least.
Community managers for B Squared Media have seen a rise in this form of spamming (linking Whatsapp) on Facebook in the last 12 months. During one of my shifts as a community manager, I hid over twenty comments similar to the above, that popped up on a brand’s Facebook ad.
Is spam annoying? Yes. But completely manageable with an attentive CMGR on duty.
Mean and hurtful comments and messages are meant to be exactly that. One of our own B2 Crew members was called a hurtful and inappropriate word on her second day. For no reason other than to be mean. There are also handfuls of DMs that we have seen in the past with graphic images. You can ban those members, but you certainly can’t unsee what they’ve sent.
Do you know the saying “everyone gets a trophy”? That’s the same with social media opinions. Many people believe that because they can get their opinion out there, it deserves to be recognized. But the truth is, there are more people shouting their opinion online than there are meaningful conversations. Nothing is accomplished with this tactic.
[Source: Lane Bryant]
[Source: Stitch Fix]
And then we have the folks who don’t quite understand how Facebook works (as shown below). Those are always fun! Full disclosure – our B2 team of CMGRs find these comments to be the most entertaining.
Social Media Activism
We saw quite a bit of social media activism sparked by social unrest. June 2020 brought the issues to the forefront and brands either took a stand to support the Black community or not post at all. Either way, it was met with a mixed reaction. The comments you see below all came from the same statement a brand posted on social media:
- “I used to like your product, but now that you’ve gotten political, I’m going elsewhere.”
- “Why would you say only Black lives matter? Don’t all our lives matter?”
- “Do better. It doesn’t look like you are fully with us.”
- “Your statement is weak and vague.”
- “Thank you for taking a stand! I will continue to be a customer.”
- “Thank you for being sensitive to this issue and standing with us!”
[Source: Best Buy]
Depending on the brand, the post, and their stance – these comments can be overwhelming. You can see how sifting through them daily can weigh on the community managers.
Community Managers Are Burned Out
The burnout level for community managers is no joke. We wrote a blog about social media burnout back in January 2020, and it holds true today. Even more so!
There are ways you can protect your mental health if you work in social media. This article from Meltwater Social highlights some great ways to combat burnout, fatigue, and PTSD.
How can we support our social media frontline workers? Start with these steps:
Set Boundaries. There is a line when it comes to customer care and community management. If a commenter is using offensive language or attacking others on a post, then the community manager should have pre-set guidelines from the brand to disengage, hide, or delete.
Diffuse negative comments with a positive response. If someone is being rude, confront it with kindness. Typically, customers want to be acknowledged and want assistance. Once they are addressed and have someone’s ear, they will simmer down a bit.
Compartmentalize. Easier said than done, but incredibly necessary. Community managers need to know these comments are not directed at them. They need to take a break if needed. And leave work at work when your shift is over.
Be authentic to the brand and human. Yes, it’s a brand. Yes, there are humans answering. So let them know that without compromising the brand’s image. Here’s a question for you: why aren’t brands humanizing their community managers more?
Brighter Days Ahead
The winter of our social media discontent will change, as do the seasons. In the meantime, support your community managers. Listen when they express concern over posts going out, give them breaks before they burn out, and praise them for jobs well done.
Community management isn’t always dark; it can be incredibly rewarding to help community members with customer care issues and build brand engagement (a story for another day!).
Will social media become a brighter place as 2021 rolls on? I hope so! In the meantime, let’s be proactive in handling the dark side of social media and set the terms we are comfortable abiding by.
How do you handle the dark side of social media for your clients? Let us know in the comments below!