By Ejolee Mitchell
Like many social media managers in the world, the plans I had for myself, and my work became irrelevant.
All of the content or ideas I had planned for the year were no longer applicable. I had to change my entire workflow – that had been laid out since June 2019 – and start over.
Knowing this, I reached out to people and attended meetings to find out how the organization was responding to this moment.
And in those meetings, I repeatedly said, “I can’t use any of the content I had planned. I have to start over.”
I asked – many times to various teams – “please include me in any conversation you are having regarding the work so that I can stay aware of what is happening within the region.”
I made requests from teams “send me any pair photos you are comfortable sharing, connect me with mentors and mentees who are still in regular contact, send me content for this campaign I am working on.”
Although it was a struggle, I created COVID-19 social media strategies. I developed and implemented six social campaigns. So thank you to those that responded to my emails, uploaded a picture to my particular box folders, sent me photos of pairs adapting to this moment, collected pair stories, and invited me to their meetings. I could not have accomplished this work without your support. I am appreciative and grateful for how you responded to my call for help.
However, this was not the only thing I have done since March. As many social media managers, I have had to keep abreast of the atrocities happening in America. I have spent hours researching how other organizations have responded, what tactics they have implemented, how are organizations talking about what is going on, what content they are producing, what content aren’t they creating. Additionally, I paid attention to the news. I read and watched and listened to how the pandemic was impacting the world I used to know.
I shared this information with those around me and used this to inform how I crafted the strategies and campaigns aforementioned. Then, on May 25, George Floyd was murdered. As a Black woman in this country – and like many Black people in this country – I no longer could separate my professional and personal life.
Furthermore, the weight that I have had to carry living in this duality has been crippling, and I will never be able to articulate how incredibly hard it has been to operate in this manner.
However, since it is my job to stay aware of what is going on in the world, I continued to work. I continued to read, watch, and listen to the experience impacting the Black community. I monitored how other organizations were responding to this moment. I continued to create and develop content that would present the organization as one that was aware of the current moment and how it would show up for its community. I wrote words conveying that message. I put these remarks onto the internet.
Unfortunately, the support of this body of work pales compared to that of my campaigns and strategies initiatives. And it saddens me to say that this is the reality many social media managers face. We helped craft the narratives – emphasis on help – that stated our companies or organizations are committed to racial justice, and that we’ll do what it takes to bring racial equity to the forefront. However, we know that often the external messaging does not match the internal practices of an organization.
We have witnessed what happens to a brand whose online statements don’t match their policies. We all know what is being said about those organizations because it is all online.
Therefore, we know – better than most – the ramifications of what happens when a company does not practice what they preach. And when we try to voice our concerns, our opinions go unheard, and we often aid in performative allyship because “we are just the social media manager.”
The emotional burden social media managers carry is unjust. At our core, we want the organizations we work for to be the best and be leaders in our industries. However, we are not given the resources, support, or income to do so effectively. We are told our opinions are valid and that we are experts, but we are rarely able to implement that expertise.
Ejolee L. Mitchell (she/her/hers) is a social media strategist who has spent her career within the nonprofit industry working with program, fundraising, marketing, and communications teams. She is based in Brooklyn, NY.