Setting boundaries on social media, eh? I know. I know. I’m honestly likely the eleventy billionth “social media expert” to roll onto a blog and talk to you about a) the importance of social media boundaries, and b) offer advice to you on how to set them, but you know what? Maybe on the eleventy billionth time you read a narrative like this one, something different kinda sticks? Maybe I’ll write something that feels really relatable, or relevant to you? And if that happens … then it’s worth my being the eleventy billionth social media “expert” to lecture y’all on social media boundaries, yea?
Boundaries. Honestly. I’ve found all o’ this out the hard[er] way. #lol. I haven’t set them, and I have genuinely felt the full impact of what business ownership feels like when you work in social media marketing … and you don’t have boundaries.
So less’go, but like, seriously … let’s go.
You’ve gotta have ‘off time’, but you’ll need an OOO turned on so really effectively manage those expectations.
I’m such a big fan of social media ‘off’ time, but I’m also a really big fan of letting people know “I’m not here” [and generally just managing those expectations, because a teeny-tiny snippet of our online community has this “always on” expectation of us].
[don’t you worry … the rest of our community are amazing, but for the teeny-tiny-snippets? We put that OOO on, and we make sure everyone knows our on/off times etc.]
You can set up an OOO to get pumped out [at particular times, like post-5pm / weekends / holiday periods etc.] via Facebook and Instagram, which means every time someone PM’s on FB or DM’s on IG, they receive your OOO message [for designated times you’ve decided upon, e.g for TDP? It’s post 5pm, weekends, and holiday periods].
Ours looks a little sumpin’ like this;
You’re allowed to have a life outside of your phone.
And so segueing perfectly from the above, I’d love to tell you something that took me a little too long to realise: you’re allowed to have a life outside of your phone.
When I finish work [5-5.30pm’ish], I’m really big on “phone down” / “kids up”, which basically means acknowledging that I’ve worked all day … so my kids deserve my undivided attention from 5pm onwards tbh.
I put my phone on my beside table, and I don’t pick it up again until they’re both in bed [and sometimes I don’t even pick it up again at all, if Dave isn’t working and I wanna talk to him / hang out etc.].
Maybe you need a coupl’a “phone down” times in your business ownership’y work week?
Engage on social media the way that suits you best.
And I raise this from the perspective of being an autistic female.
I get paralysed [literally completely overwhelmed] by how much my phone pings: all the SM notifications from the multiple channels we’re on, WhatsApp threads with clients, internal Slack platform notifications, emails, texts/phone calls from friends, and so much more.
For this reason? I can now only engage in a way that suits my brain, which looks like;
- Replying to all SM notifications from my desktop [I find it torturous replying from my phone, honestly]. Additionally, I even have iMessages set up so when my friends text me? It appears on my desktop [and I reply there. Or I try to, if work isn’t out-of-control busy]. Unfortunately for my friends, they’ve befriended an autistic digital marketer who loathes her phone … but loves spontaneous IRL/in-person catch-up’s. It makes me a sh*t friend on paper, but I just do my best to show my friends how much I love them in non-phone-related-ways.
- And if I have to reply to anything from my phone? … I audio reply. Text to PM on Facebook, or DM on Instagram. Actually, I even mostly audio reply to WhatsApp messages now too. #DeathToTyping [it’s GOD-AWFUL for my brain].
When I engage on social in a way that suits me, it feels like not falling out of love with your job / life, and that’s a bluddy-beautiful-thing.
If you’re on the receiving end of something sh*tty online, take your time to respond.
I can’t bring home the importance of this one enough: stop kneejerk reacting to everything.
If – like us – the negative stuff only comes through once in a blue moon, do like us and give yourself time to respond when you’re out of the “red zone” [it’s a non-constructive space]. My worst reactions to anything I’ve been on the receiving end of have been when I’ve responded to something in less than 48 hours, and my worst reactions? … when I’ve responded almost immediately.
Ask yourself this: why the rush? Is there a sand timer running? Is there a bomb about to be detonated? Is there an egg timer? No. So honestly, why the rush?
Take your time [for me? It’s 24-48 hours] to get into a seriously constructive space, and then respond.
If you’ve got a team? The best thing you can do is lead by example.
I learnt this the hard way.
I’m not wired to believe that anyone [in their right mind] would look up to me, and so it took me a little longer to recognise that when you’re an organisational leader? Whether you like it or not, your team will somewhat look up to you.
And so if you want them to have good boundaries [and I do], then you’ve got to set them for yourself [and model living into these to your team].
Before I came to this realisation, I can accept that I probably didn’t model the best boundaries … and now I can appreciate that if I don’t want to build a workplace that fosters hustle-culture, I’ve gotta not hustle myself.
Y’see the old me used to think – quite literally [because, autistic] – that my team could recognise the difference between my hustle versus their non-need to. I honestly thought they’d be able to appreciate that the only reason they were seeing an organisational leader hustle, is because it was that person’s business [#itme].
Now I know better.
If they see me hustle, they’ll feel they have to too [and they don’t].
I still hustle, but I don’t talk about it. At all. It serves as literally no conversation point, and I don’t even discuss what time I start work / finish work, because it’s nobody’s business other than mine.
And finally? Have some legitimate non-negotiables.
So what I mean by that is: things that are just non-negotiables for you. Only you. Unique to you [and your individual needs].
For me? It’s little things like the fact that I don’t accept friend requests from business acquaintances [I just want my FB as my close family, and incredibly close friends], and I also don’t respond to PM’d on Facebook [mostly because they go to the ‘others’ folder … which everyone forgets even exists. #lol].
If you’re PM’ing me on FB? It’s almost always something customer service’y, and I love you [and I’m sorry], but I pay an incredibly good yearly salary for x2 people to manage all o’ the customer service’y things so that I don’t have to dish out free social media advice in PM’s / answer general customer service enquiries in PM’s.
It’s taken me a long time to say out loud: you’re not being rude by not being 24/7 “on” like that … but jay-sus it feels good to be here.
What do you think? Did I miss anything?
What would you add? I’m always down for hearing about boundaries, and what they look like from individual to individual.
We talk a lot about boundaries on Instagram, if you’d like to give us a follow here.