Social media can be quite an added stressor on business owners — it requires them to learn new skills in marketing, promotion, and community-building. Simply showing up to the party isn’t enough: what you post and say on social media can have a direct impact on your bottom line.
In fact, 48% of customers prefer to learn what small businesses are doing over social media, according to data from Salesforce. With all of these moving parts — along with constantly changing algorithms and evolving platforms — the urgency never seems to wane.
The good news is that you’re not alone in your struggle. Many businesses and mental health experts have created apps, tools, and strategies to make social media less stressful for those using it as a business tool. Let’s take a look at the most common stressors and challenges social media creates — and how to work through them.
According to a VerticalResponse survey, 43 percent of small business owners spend 6 or more hours per week on social media for business-related reasons. And, 25 percent of respondents spend between six and ten hours per week. These numbers show that business owners are working to carve out time in an already busy schedule to create social profiles, attract an audience, and post consistently.
While having a social media presence is essential to maintaining a successful business, it doesn’t mean small business owners have to spend massive amounts of time maintaining a social media presence. If social media feels stressful because you don’t have the time to pursue it thoughtfully and consistently, planning ahead can help.
Specifically, get your social media strategy in check one week or even one month in advance so that you can free up more time in your workday for everything else on your to-do list. Tools like Buffer can help you schedule on multiple platforms at once, including Facebook and Twitter. If Instagram is your go-to business tool, mobile and desktop apps like PLANN can help you visualize your feed and plan your posts ahead of time.
Another perk of PLANN is that it allows you to search for hashtags based on your content theme, which saves time on research. While it’s still important to engage with followers and commenters after you’ve scheduled your content in advance, you don’t have to log on every hour to check how many likes or comments you have. Instead, it’s perfectly acceptable to set aside a few minutes every other day for a quick check-in.
When you’re running a small business, you may feel that you need to constantly be “on” in order to succeed. From a social media perspective, you might feel that you’re going to fall behind if you’re not constantly posting stories and chiming in on other people’s posts. This is where the dark side of social media rears its head.
While it was designed to foster connection, it has a tendency to make us feel even more isolated. Studies have shown that high levels of social media use are correlated with higher levels of loneliness and social isolation. Other research shows that heavy social media use can cause sleep disturbances and make a person more distracted in daily life. If you’re feeling alone in your business efforts, yet you’re constantly trying to stay connected online, it could be a sign you need to step back and set some boundaries.
Foremost, take a break from posting when you feel burned out. You may find that taking time off from the apps gives you a bit more clarity around what strategy you want to use. Logging off can also invigorate you with new creativity around what you should be posting so that you can focus on quality, rather than quantity.
Quality of life coach Krista-Lynn Landolfi, who helps high-impact influencers live more fulfilled and purposeful lives, suggests creating a social media schedule. How frequently must you engage on each platform to cultivate community? “If you're unsure, take one week to track your actions and return on time investment to gauge your optimal engagement schedule.”
She adds that it’s important to ask yourself what you’re looking for from social media each time you log in. “Don't open a social media app until you are clear on your specific "why," otherwise you'll be prone to compulsively scrolling – not knowing why you're scrolling social media is like jumping into the car and driving aimlessly in circles.”
Creating an intention for social media use also helps avoid using it for validation, which can lead to a negative downward spiral. Moreover, Landolfi says that more mindful sharing helps you think about what you’re contributing to society with every post to end up with more meaningful, thoughtful, and authentic content.
Similarly, changing your mindset can work wonders for de-stressing and re-prioritizing. Instead of looking to other companies for examples of how to act, use social media in a way that feels authentic and nurturing to your business and its goals.
Like YouTube co-founder and former CEO Chad Hurley explains, it’s much more effective to block out the noise, ignore what others are doing, and forge your own creative solutions. “Set your own path. Too many people are jumping onto bandwagons and different trends, trying to find the same solutions to today’s problems,” says Hurley.
Social media strategy and boundaries aside, business owners must also discover how to navigate the world of online reviews. Just one negative review on Google or Yelp can negatively impact a business’s reputation and turn away potential customers.
As demonstrated in a study by Review Trackers, a staggering 94% of customers will avoid a business after reading just one negative review. In contrast, 87% of customers say a positive review confirmed a purchase decision, says a Brightlocal report. This can be a great source of stress because many business owners feel they don’t have any control over these online rating systems. Sometimes, it can feel that customers say hurtful things and demean a business’ reputation without even considering the consequences.
It can be especially frustrating when a customer doesn’t speak up about a complaint in-store, but goes on to post a negative and damaging review on social media. After all, how can a business owner do the right thing if they weren’t given a chance to fix it?
The best way to manage online complaints is to respond with kindness, empathy, and generosity. You can use a reputation management tool like review trackers to get alerted of new reviews and manage your responses. This way, you’ll never miss the chance to respond to a negative review that could potentially impact your small business.
Then, dedicate an hour each week to checking review sites and responding to all comments and ratings, both good and bad. For the negative reviews, ask the customer for an opportunity to make things right and invite them back into your space. Posting this invitation publically shows your human side and makes people more willing to do business with you, regardless of what the issue was. While you may not want to offer them anything, think about the long-term impact. It just may end up in the person reversing their original review to paint your business in a more positive light.
As explained by Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner Maggie Berghoff, choosing not to let bad reviews affect you can help you attract more positivity and success into your life. “When you have a troll or a bad review, simply wish those people the best, and move on with your day. Try not to let it affect your mentality, as their negatively can greatly impact your business growth and attraction of abundance in your own life,” Berghoff says.
Perhaps the biggest threat of social media to small business owners is the increased visibility into competitor success. In the same way that people compare themselves to others on social media in their personal lives, many business owners compare themselves to competitors and feel inferior as a result.
This can widen the scope of daily stressors, asking business owners to wonder whether they’re doing enough or if they’ll ever be as good as their biggest competitor — even when business rivals aren’t actually succeeding as much as they appear to be.
Taking a more mindful approach to social media can help you stop comparing your business to others and tune into what really matters. For one, you might start by hiding your newsfeed with a tool like News Feed Eradicator, a Chrome extension that replaces your feed with an inspirational quote. While you can still view notifications, pages, and posts from the search bar or notification bell, you won’t be bogged down by images that make you feel inferior.
Next, reconsider the role that social media plays in your life. Integrative and Pediatric Mental Health Expert Roseann Capanna-Hodge recommends focusing on giving your ideal client what they need, rather than trying to keep up with the Joneses.
“When you build a community that knows, likes, and trusts you, it doesn't matter how many followers your competitor has because your tribe gets value from you and will stay with you as long as you deliver.”
In other words, being a small business actually puts you at an advantage when it comes to social media. According to Duct Tape Marketing, this is because small businesses tend to be much more community-focused, which means they can expect higher levels of genuine engagement. One way to take advantage of such engagement is to actively ask questions and encourage discussion among your followers. Creating this dialogue shows that you’re engaged in your audience and what they have to say.
Social media can certainly be stressful and frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. Choosing to change your relationship with social media by setting boundaries, planning ahead, limiting comparison, and managing negative reviews with grace can ensure that social media is just another marketing tool designed to help, not hinder, your success.
Michelle Polizzi is a freelance writer and editor with over 5 years of experience. When she isn't busy writing or researching, you can find her doing yoga, enjoying the outdoors, or exploring a new corner of the world.