Just post that bad content request

It's not worth your time to fight.

You’ve read about social media burnout. Open letters to the industry are content mainstays across every trade publication. Social pros feel overworked, underpaid, always on, responsible for everything, psychologically attacked by the ugly side of comments, and at least 15 other understandable ailments. These jobs aren’t the easiest.

I do think there’s an uncomfortable, unspoken reality we’ve gotta shine a light on, though. Young social professionals often put immense pressure on themselves.

Pressure that isn’t actually part of the job, but self-imposed. And those self-imposed pressures lead to burnout as quickly as the rained-down responsibilities in the job description. This is the first of a series I’m writing this year on what social professionals can do to help themselves—to make sure we’re not making these jobs harder than they have to be.

Let’s start with a forever headache: when social professionals are asked to post content that doesn’t make sense for the brand.

You’re gonna get asked to post bad content

Whether you’re a day one social media coordinator or a 15-year-experience director of social media, you’re gonna get handed some bad content to toss on the brand accounts. I don’t wanna trigger anyone, but some that come to mind:

  • bad graphic designs from third-party partners

  • IRL event flyers your social audience can’t attend

  • bad product pictures from new launches

  • links to tiny business initiatives that shouldn’t get social love

This has been a reality of every social job I’ve ever had, and it’s not changing anytime soon. Hell, when I worked with Microsoft through my old agency, we had a guy whose job was basically just to say no to unreasonable requests (and you’re the best at it, Jude). And hey, I was a complete pain in the ass about this the first few years of my career—I knew what bad content looked like, and I was a nuisance in trying to keep ugly assets from going live.

Unless you’ve been empowered to push back or have developed the political savvy to navigate those circumstances, being asked to post bad content is one of the easiest ways to get bent out of shape in social gigs.

But this is one of those instances where we, the social pros, are causing our own pain. We’re choosing to let bad marketing affect our moods, our demeanor, and even our identities—as if our whole professional worth is judged by our brand’s cumulative social presence.

I’ve got good news, though. There’s a better way to handle bad requests. Let’s talk about why this isn’t the hill to die on.

You want to pick a different battle

“Fight the good fight” both does and doesn’t apply to social media jobs. I badly want you to pick your fights carefully, but let’s be honest—there can be many, many good fights in these jobs. Social is a speciality skill, yet still falls into the “everything thinks they can do it” category.

In regards to bad content posting requests? This really shouldn’t be high on your frustration list, even if it happens frequently. You’re better off channeling your energy towards creating the content you believe in, or handling your hundreds of other responsibilities, or taking some much needed rest. This request, while annoying, shouldn’t live rent free in your head.

One (or even a few) bad posts don’t hurt you

Most brands post on social media every day, across three different platforms. It’s incredibly likely your brand posts 100+ times a month. If you work on scaled teams, it might be 1000 posts a month.

Requests to post other people’s content usually aren’t terribly frequent, but for argument’s sake, let’s say you get asked to post mediocre content twice a week—just under 30% of your daily content.

You wanna know what’s gonna happen when you post their bad content?


It won’t get results. It won’t generate engagement. But it also won’t trigger unpleasantness or unfollows with your audience. It’ll just get scrolled right past, forgotten among the sea of social.

So why get upset about something that doesn’t matter?

What to do when bad content comes in

Now, I’m not telling you to shut down or roll over—I just want you unbothered. Don’t worry, though—there’s a way to still share your perspective and show them on the backend that they should listen to you a little more often.

When I’ve been asked to share social posts I don’t believe in, the first conversation is with myself. If I do convince them to let me make my own content, do I realistically have time to make new content? Is this request coming from on high, where I’ll be viewed as a problem if I interfere? Will anything catastrophic happen* if I just post the post?

If I do decide it’s a conversation I’d like to have, I approach it casually.

  • “Hey, I’m concerned this asset won’t accomplish the goals—can my team take a pass at it?”

  • “We’re pretty jam packed on content this month—I’m worried this will get lost in the shuffle. Can we push this request out a bit?”

  • my personal favorite: “I personally can’t recommend this, but if you’d like me to post it, I’m happy to!”

That last one not only absolves you of responsibility, but also tests their resolve about their own content. Do they believe in it, even when their social media expert doesn’t? It’s a bit of a silver bullet—use it sparingly, but it is effective.

When you still have to post that rough content, what you’re gonna wanna do is follow up with it when your monthly analytics meeting comes up. It should come as no surprise to you when not-social ranks among your lowest performing posts, but throwing it on a slide that titled 3 Lowest Performers? You’ll see some blushing, and you’ll be trusted a little more next time around.

*we work in marketing. No, nothing catastrophic can happen.

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