This article is based on some of the concepts I presented at Pubcon New Orleans 2014. I was looking at social and community from a more therapeutic perspective and this article is going to offer social media management tips from that perspective as well.

I think these recommendations are different, but also are really important for anyone working in social media.

FYI, I work as an associate at Moz on the Community Team and I have been handling social media in the mornings, East coast time, while the geniuses are still sleeping. In the past 8-9 months have learned a lot about social and myself.

Stop Being a Defender

I don’t know why I am a ‘defender’. Perhaps it is because I am a mother or maybe it goes back to being the only girl child and having to defend myself against all the yucky boys? Bottom line, someone insults someone I care about you see a different side of me. I don’t like it :).

Having observed Moz for years, I knew they never insulted or attacked anyone no matter what was being said to them. They took in feedback and responded honestly and respectfully. When I started working with Moz, I observed that they never really defended themselves, but they explained and tried to find solutions for those in their community.  You don’t have to defend, but you do have to help people.

This part wasn’t really hard for me, but sometimes a tweet comes along that is mean and disrespectful and I have to turn off my urge to defend. The best ways to handle these feelings is to ignore them or vent to someone offline.

You are not a defender in your job; you are a feedback gatherer.

Stuff Your “Feelings” and Represent Core Values

On Feb 26, 2014 Moz experienced a DDoS attack and the site was not accessible. Naturally many people were upset and some of them said some rude things about Moz. While this bugged me (a lot) I quickly ignored the negative and focused on helping the people reaching out.

We all knew the site was being attacked, but an announcement couldn’t be made until we had all the facts. All we could say was that the site was experiencing some problems and we were working on it. Then we tried to do what was right, which was to validate everyone’s feelings and apologize no matter how rude the comment was. Why? Because that is what everyone deserves!

Moz’s core values are TAGFEE, which stands for Transparent, Authentic, Generous, Fun, Empathetic and Exceptional.


If you are truly empathetic you should be able to understand the feelings of others. Often an inconvenience, like a site and tools being down, can cause a lot of stress for people. They have every right to be upset, whether it was our fault or not. They deserve a caring response, to have feelings validated, and they deserve to have someone trying to meet their needs.

If you are managing social media for anyone I recommend you go back and look at that last sentence again. In my opinion every interaction you have MUST do three things, 1 – offer a caring response, 2 –validate feelings and the 3 – should be focused on meeting a need.

Let the rudeness and/or insults slide off your back. You are representing a brand and its values. Your main job is to help the audience/community and protect your brand.

Don’t Forget You Are Talking to a Human

Sometimes it is easy to forget that there are humans behind these tweets and interactions on social. These ‘humans’ have feelings, lives and they may be living through hard times.

You have to see every individual as someone who is valuable and important, even if they are being rude.

Example, someone may have been in a car accident previously in the day and they are now speaking rudely to everyone. Of course you as a social media manager do not know that, but the why doesn’t matter. Everyone should be treated the same. This rude person could be the CEO of a business that invests a lot of money into your company and/or they could also be a father/mother of 6 adopted kids…you just never know.

It doesn’t matter how rude people are on social because we don’t know ‘why’ they are being rude. All that matters is that this person is most likely important to someone and their very being offers value. Therefore, they deserve a respectful response along with everyone else that reaches out. Side note, about 95% of the time if I really make an effort to reach out to someone that is angry or rude in a positive manner the anger/rudeness just seems to disappears.

EVERYONE feels better when they are given respect.

You Have to Take Care of YOU

Social media can be an emotionally draining job. You are essentially a caregiver of potentially hundreds of thousands of people. You need to help them solve problems, validate feelings, offer or find solutions/information, and sometimes just talk.

While to many this may seem like a simple job it really is not. Having 20 different conversations in 30 minutes while searching for answers and also reducing anger can be draining.

All stress, good or bad, can be hard on the body and the mind. Your goal should be to return to homeostasis, but this is not always a simple task. You have to take care of your body and mind all the time so your ability to return to homeostasis is easier.

I have some recommendations:

  • Eat a good meal before you take over your social shift – maintaining proper blood sugar will help you to work better and also recover from stress more effectively.
  • Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate – you will work better and feel better if you are properly hydrated. Water is preferable to energy drinks or sodas – the caffeine and other stimulates actually throw your body into the fight or flight response (which is really stressful). We don’t seem to feel this change anymore because we are used to it due to the large amount of soda drinkage, but the truth is these unhealthy drinks can and do create more stress for you.
  • Talk to people about your irritating moments – let them out and get rid of them. Whether it is a team member, a friend or a partner it is good to just let it all out. Think catharsis.
  • Watch for burnout – you don’t want to get burnt out and end up losing your job. You have to personally watch for your own possible burnout. Signs –> fatigue, dread, sadness, unhappiness and anger. Watch for these feelings and make sure you are addressing them.

This New Career Needs to Be Looked at Differently

Managing social and community is a newer career. It is an exciting and fun job, but to survive it, or any other job, you have to look at the proper ways to emotionally handle everything the job entails.

Take care of the people, take care of the brand and most importantly, take care of you.