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I’m an “always-on” community manager. Here’s how I avoid burnout.

Khoros Alumni (Retired)

Community managers are stressed

When customers expect an “always-on” support system, how can community managers and moderators avoid burnout and feel balanced?

My name is Caroline, and I work for Khoros Strategic Services, helping our clients manage digital communities every day. Since online support is often a lifeline for users, it’s imperative that communities show up for their customers where and when they’re needed most. A lot of processes go into making a great community experience for customers. But perhaps the most important factor are the people behind the community — the strategists, agents, and managers who bring the user experience to life.

When you’re managing an always-on, round-the-clock community, the risk of burnout is understandably heightened. Community managers often experience something akin to social media fatigue, which occurs when someone is overwhelmed by an excess of social media interactions. (This is also extremely common among social media managers, as they spend both work and non-work hours online.)

People who work closely with online brand communities need to take care of themselves, both for their own sake and for the sake of the brands who depend on them. Here are my tips on how to prioritize your mental health, while still being there for your community.

7 tips for community managers

1. If you’re a leader, lead by example — and communication

Whether you’re a direct manager or a leader in this industry, it’s imperative to demonstrate to your team that you value their need to achieve balance and time to unplug. When you communicate after-hours with coordinators or moderators, they can feel obliged to show that they’re a team player by replying. This can lead to burnout. A better strategy is to lead by example: even if you’re working late, save requests for your team for the next day.

If you absolutely must ping the team late at night because, say, you’ll forget if you don’t, add a “FOR TOMORROW” at the beginning of your message. Even better, if you use Gmail, you can choose to schedule your email to go out the next morning. That way, you communicate your respect for their time away from their screens.

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(Scheduling an email in Gmail)

Justin Cook, our GM of Marketing here at Khoros, includes this beautiful sentiment at the bottom of his emails:

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2. Curb your offline check-ins

It’s easy to worry about what happens when you’re offline. Will a community member post something against the house rules? Will users perceive a post negatively and cause it to go viral?

Make sure your team has clear guidelines about what kinds of flags can wait a few hours for support, and what kind of flags require immediate action. For example, if a community member has a support question that your team’s resources don’t cover, this could require some more time to gather information and approved messaging before flagging. Clear guidelines will determine the correct course of action to take in these situations. 

3. Know your team's crisis plan

Take time to familiarize yourself with your brand’s crisis plan before your time off so you understand who the team will contact in case they need immediate assistance. Review the plan with your team and trust them to follow it. This will reduce stress ahead of longer offline periods.

If you’re going to be away during a holiday or event, consider whether you can temporarily turn off work notifications. Reduce your work pings and notifications to only send for emergencies, so that your time off is really time off. If you need to check in with the team, create short calendar holds and leave yourself a checklist of exactly what you need to do so you can stay on-task and log in and out.

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4. Organize team check-ins (during work hours)

Create a space where the team feels supported and heard, especially during stressful periods of work. Consider daily or weekly optional check-ins to get a pulse on how the team is feeling. At Khoros, we set up these meetings to communicate that we’re there to listen if teams want to discuss anything, work or non-work related. These meetings are great places for honest conversations about stress and anxiety.

5. Set expectations and priorities ahead of time

Make sure priorities are clear to the team. Consider kicking off the week with a list of end-of-day (EOD) tasks, end-of-week (EOW) tasks, and nice-to-have tasks so the team understands what to prioritize throughout the week. Team leaders should be transparent and set expectations about what teams can accomplish. If you have options to increase the number of teammates, be realistic about onboarding and training needs.

6. Take advantage of your software

When addressing bandwidth concerns, arm yourself with helpful product features to streamline moderation efforts. For example, you could add AI to your online brand community, streamline visibility into your community by integrating it with Slack, or simply trust your community with peer-to-peer support.

Streamlining visibility into your community by integrating it with Slack 

Community managers and administrators are constantly switching between multiple applications. Our new Slack Community Integration brings your community to your Slack workspace, reducing the need to switch applications all the time. You can adjust your notifications to ping you for direct mentions and posts you’ve subscribed to, cutting down on noise and showing you only the most relevant information.

Trust your community

One of the many benefits of communities is their ability to foster peer-to-peer relationships for customers to share expertise and thus reduce support inquiries. When you’ve built a place where customers can come to each other to solve their problems, continue to allow your community members to support one another.

Use your community’s Welcome Area to be transparent

Let community members know ahead of time if response hours may differ from usual, like on holidays or during special events. Consider using your unique Welcome Area to provide updates on your community’s business hours, and let users know where else they can find emergency help if they need it. A community is built on relationships and trust; your customers will appreciate the heads up.

7. Be present and reward yourself
Agents, managers and strategists are some of the most resilient people in the industry. We’re experts in our communities, we know them the best, and we anticipate their needs every day. The job can feel like you always need to be “on,” but remember that you deserve a break. If you can, turn off notifications for certain apps/programs. If you can turn on your out-of-office automated email or Slack status, do it. Respect yourself and your teammates.

Unplug, unwind, and get offline.


About Khoros Communities 

We help brands create digital spaces where customers can get answers, connect with peers, and share new ideas. We’d love to show you how. Khoros Communities gives you a branded, interactive platform to transform search, evaluation, purchase, and support interactions into connected learning experiences.