Not All Fun and GIFs: In the Lives of Startup Social Media Managers


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“Our job is to tell a story, but what goes on behind the screen is not as pretty as what we share on social media,” says Roxana Irimia, social media manager at the French marketing startup by Lemlist email.

Managing a company’s social media accounts might sound like fun, but people often forget that behind glitzy feeds, social media managers are faced with stress, pressure, and pressure. negative health consequences to spend a lot of time on these platforms.

Experiencing the pandemic may have made some of us more aware of our screen time, but digital detox is a luxury that startup social media managers don’t have. They are often the only ones running the show – and Twitter never stops.

So how are they doing?

We spoke to three social media executives working at European startups to find out how they tackled these challenges and taken care of their mental health.

The stress of staying creative while in confinement

“When you look at the same walls, it’s hard to come up with new ideas,” says Irimia, who moved to Paris for a new job two weeks before the first foreclosure in March 2020.

A former digital nomad, working alone online was nothing new to her. But being confined to her new apartment became a challenge as she tried to generate content ideas for a company she had just joined. At the time, social feeds were also about Covid-19.

“I had no more ideas on how to take creative photos of a bank card,” says Richard Cook, who manages social media at Monzo Digital Bank. “In confinement, the circle of people you talk to gets really small.”

FOMO is perhaps the hardest part of working in social media – the digital crowd never sleeps and it can easily turn into nonstop work. Unless social media managers are constantly checking feeds, they could be missing out on a great opportunity to be part of the conversation – and gain many followers at once.

“I’m on my phone and have Tweetdeck open all the time…” Cook told Sifted.

He said his return to the office since May has helped him find a better work-life balance: he uses the desk to turn work on and off and enjoys exchanging ideas with his colleagues.

“When I feel stressed and overwhelmed, who do I talk to? [if I work from home]? I missed it. In the office, when you tell people, “I’m so stressed,” people hug you. “

Manage the company’s reputation in 240 characters

In addition to the stress of constantly staying on top of the latest trends, social media managers play an important role in building a company’s reputation, especially in startups whose survival depends on growing their customer base. .

“You are the face of the company; your mistakes are not only public knowledge, they are also public opinion, ”says Rose Scanlon-Jones, who joined sustainable investment startup Clim8 last month.

She emphasizes that every decision made by a team – product, marketing, PR or founders – to share on a particular topic or product will impact their workload: “We’re at the end of the funnel. ”

Irimia also told us about the stress of not achieving the goals set. At Lemlist, she manages the CEO’s social media accounts, and her followers haven’t grown as fast as they expected, despite trying different strategies.

“Now I’m stressed because her account isn’t growing and it’s hard to get an audience to the page. And it’s stressful because we have KPIs. He doesn’t pressure me, but I feel bad.

The constant algorithm updates and the dance between producing creative and strategic content can make day-to-day work nerve-racking: “Sometimes you want to explore that tongue-in-cheek tone of voice – and it’s absolutely overflowing. And at the end of the month you have to do your report and say, “It didn’t work out well and that’s it. [on me], ‘”Says Scanlon-Jones.

Dealing with internet negativity

Social media managers take pride in their work, but they can also fall prey to the downward spiral of social platforms.

“If we get 50 good comments and one bad, this will be the one I remember,” says Monzo’s Cook. “You have to remember that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. It’s amazing that you post anything.

Negative comments on a post are only one side of the social media hurdle. It gets worse when brands work on controversial and highly politicized topics.

Scanlon-Jones previously worked for the tree-planting app Ecologi and has faced extreme content, such as climate misinformation, racist and satanic accusations.

“I was very hopeful about what we were doing, but the amount of comments and negativity would actually give me a panic attack. It’s very hard on your mind, ”she said.

While social media platforms have enabled important conversations and social movements like #BlackLivesMatter or #MeToo, they also expose the darker side of humanity. In 2019, the Verge revealed the trauma of Facebook moderators, who watch and sift harmful content on social media for a living. The consequences for their mental health can be disastrous.

Most people –– including senior executives –– don’t know what a social media manager does

A lot of people have opinions about social media –– probably because most of us use it privately –– but few people really know what it’s like to run these platforms professionally.

“People sometimes don’t understand and they refuse to understand [what it means to run social media] –– You are often asked to manage customer support, manage all of our social media accounts and do paid social media as well, ”says Scanlon-Jones, who has been in charge of social media for seven years.

Limited staff budgets could explain why social media managers at startups have to deal with so much beyond just creating content. But it is also a question of education and transparency.

“Usually people look at the result, thank you for doing all that, but ask you to do more. I had to talk to the team and make them realize how difficult it is to do this all the time, Cook said.

He’s been with Monzo for three and a half years and has seen digital banking grow from 500,000 to 5 million customers. With that, more products, more marketing campaigns and therefore more social media content to be created.

“As social media managers, it’s good to be more transparent about how we make this material, which is a lot of hard work. Once you share your way of working with people, they take a step back.

Limits of personal and professional life

Scanlon-Jones, Cook, and Irimia have all said the solution is to set limits, but that’s easier said than done.

“The more we kid ourselves that we can do anything, the more we can’t,” Scanlon-Jones told Sifted.

“Being in charge of social media isn’t me, it’s my job – it’s about having clear boundaries and following them. ”

She no longer works past 6 p.m. and has set hours throughout the day to check notifications and comments. “I told my manager that I hadn’t enabled notifications on my phone and that it was in his best interest to stay within my limits. But if she sees something urgent, she sends me a screenshot.

Irimia believes that open communication is important to avoid stress and misunderstandings. “Every week when I meet my manager we agree that when we feel down we need to express it.”

Social networks are still seen as a taboo subject for employees and managers: recent research by Spill found that 47% of tech workers don’t see themselves talking about their mental health issues.

“People still think that [mental health is] something personal and that something personal should not be discussed in public. This is totally wrong, we are still human beings, we are part of a community, especially in a startup. It’s okay to talk about how we feel and it affects our work, ”says Irimia.

Some European startups have taken steps to take care of the mental health of their employees: Energy startup Bulb offers online mental health services such as Unmind, HelloSelf, Sanctus and Spill to its staff.

Meanwhile, what3words SaaS hire has implemented its own employee assistance program which includes support, expert advice and guidance.

Ultimately, each job comes with its own set of challenges. But what is it that drives social media managers forward?

“It’s the best job in the world! It’s the perfect blend of creativity and real impact, ”says Cook. “When you come up with fun ideas, you execute them and it works great, it’s worth it. ”

Cécile Bussy is Sifted’s social media journalist. She tweets the latest news on European technology and climate technology from @ CecileBussy



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