With a plethora of digital marketing channels, platforms, and strategies, social media has become a must for small businesses and large companies alike. And, if you don’t have a well-executed...
Understanding the Social Media Approval Process: All You Need to Know
It was supposed to be a nice, calm Friday afternoon.
Everyone was looking at the clock and counting the hours to the weekend, discussing what they were going to do over the next two days.
Then, a new email. From one of your biggest clients.
WHAT IS GOING ON? WHAT HAVE YOU JUST PUBLISHED? I haven’t approved that post. WHO PUBLISHED IT. DELETE IT NOW, IT’S TERRIBLE, IT’S WRONG!!!!1111oneoneone
And that nice, calm Friday afternoon was over. A gap in the workflow caused an unpleasant situation, misunderstandings, stress, anger, and who knows – maybe even the loss of a client.
It could have been prevented with a social media approval process in place. Today, we’re going to show you why you need one, how to set it up properly, and what you can do to get your nice, calm Friday afternoons back.
Social media approval process – what is it?
A social media approval process consists of approval guidelines that a company uses to ensure social media content is published. This review of the content, context, and subject matter for any given post is made to ensure that it complies with company guidelines.
Social media pages are often managed by multiple people, and even a single post can go through several rounds of approval before it goes live.
Establishing social media approval guidelines will help everyone involved in the process be more organized while reducing the chance of a serious crisis occurring.
Why do you need social media approval?
We are all humans and make mistakes, especially if we have multiple social media accounts to manage, posts to publish, and social media platforms to monitor.
The problem is that even the smallest mistake can cost you, your brand, and/or your clients a lot of money. They might include:
- technical mistakes (typos, the wrong photos, incorrect hashtags)
- contextual mistakes (the wrong profiles, writing about non-existent or obsolete products or services)
- logical mistakes ( erroneous dates, wrong offers, non-working discounts)
- controversy, offense, going off-piste (unless, for some reason, agreed in advance with the client)
- not following the brandbook (e.g. a graphic designer really wanted to see how baby blue looks instead of that navy blue that’s always been used…)
Although a social media approval process does not eliminate all possible mistakes, it can reduce the chance of a fatal error being made.
Introduce better organization
Creating a social media approval process can be a lengthy and troublesome task, but once done it’ll make a huge difference in your company’s effectiveness. Figuring out all of the steps will make organizing and adjusting your work easier.
You can also use this for onboarding new employees.
If your company has a solid social media approval process in place, new employees will be able to learn the drill without the extra involvement of your existing team members.
Make a more professional impression
If you’re an agency, a social media approval process will also prove useful when it comes to scaling your business and acquiring new clients. Because you already have the process in place, you can make a better impression on potential clients who may be impressed by how well organized and well-thought-out your team is.
Due to the fact that not many agencies have got the social media approval process right, you can even use it as a competitive advantage.
Be with your clients on the same page
Putting business reasons aside, one of the main benefits of a social media approval process is that you, your team, your supervisors, and your clients can be on the same page. Having approved content means that all parties know what’s going on, can provide feedback, and are able to discuss it regularly so no one is surprised by the outcome (and doesn’t receive emails like the one in the intro).
Approval process saves time
All of the above points boil down to one thing: saving time. Social media teams have a lot on their plates, their supervisors are constantly busy, and clients are always on the move. A good social media approval process is like a well-oiled machine that saves time for everyone: clients won’t waste time communicating, teams can focus on other tasks, and everything will just work out in the end.
How to build your social media approval process from scratch?
Creating a social media approval workflow may seem like an extremely difficult task, especially if you have never done it before. The following sections provide you with a checklist that makes a good starting point for your new social media approval process.
Step 1: Make a master list
You have probably already done this in some form. To figure out the most effective social media approval workflow, you should list the directories that you need approval for with relevant information about each of them.
This list should consist of:
- names of clients (strictly organizational aspect)
- industry (this may be helpful for e.g. grouping clients into workflow segments and applying similar procedures)
- platforms (which social networks are being used)
- profiles (URLs to the profiles you manage)
- provided services within profiles (in general, what is included in the package for a particular client, which could include graphic design, content plans, or community management, etc.)
- the services within profiles that need approval (e.g. you don’t need to get each comment within community management approved as that would be inefficient, while a content plan is something clients usually want to see first)
You can also add your own custom information. Although some of it may seem obvious to you, it’s worth adding it for the benefit of anyone joining your team later on.
The creation of such a list goes along with what should be done in step 2.
Step 2: Assign roles and responsibilities
This step is a natural extension of the first one. Social media profiles won’t manage themselves – you need a team behind them. And while you cannot please everyone, you can build a perfect social media approval workflow by knowing your colleagues’ or employees’ abilities, skills, and preferences.
What roles should you assign?
- SMM – social media managers (people whose task it is to create content)
- SML – social media leader/supervisor (a person who oversees the whole social media approval process, gives initial approval and/or feedback when rejecting ideas from social media managers)
- ACM – account/client manager (a person who is in touch with clients and obtains their feedback on the content plan)
- M – moderators (people who are in charge of community management)
- C – client (yes, your clients also should have access to and a role in your social media workflow process as they have several responsibilities)
- S – support (a general description of people like graphic designers or ad analysts who may be only occasionally involved in the social media approval process)
Each role should be tasked with its own set of duties common to that role, as well as some superior responsibilities. This includes, for example:
- sending content plans for approval
- contacting clients regarding feedback
- contacting support both requesting services and notifying about changes
- approving content internally, depending on how many rounds of approval are required
- answering requests or being in an “emergency contact” over the weekend/after hours
Social media managers will sometimes simultaneously be social media leaders, account managers, and moderators. More people are involved in larger agency teams, so these tasks can be more evenly distributed.
Step 3: Take care of asset management
In a social media approval process, the term “asset” refers to multimedia content. Managing these assets means ensuring they are accessible by the right people, at the right time, and can be found in the right place.
Organizations often had to approve each asset manually before it was uploaded to social media in the past, which was time-consuming and labor-intensive.
In the interests of the entire process, social media approval should be sped up.
Assets such as:
- brand books
- graphic designs
- color palettes
- icon sets
- explainer videos
should be stored in one, accessible place (e.g. a platform in the cloud, available from any place in the World). This is useful not only for approval (and replacing a post rapidly, etc.), but also for better workflow, collaboration, and onboarding.
Step 4: Timeframe & procedures
Having identified who is involved in the social media approval process, what their tasks are, and what needs to be accomplished, it is now time to make it work and connect the dots.
This step will look different for each of your clients or brands. You can enter some personal notes here that are difficult to fit into any range or bracket.
- The 5Ws (Who, What, When, Where, and Why?) – Pretty self-explanatorily, this is who sends, publishes, approves, or comments on what, when, where, and why. It’s all about connecting the roles we mentioned in Step 2.
- “How’s the client?” – are they demanding, maybe even picky? Open to suggestions or strictly follow the guidelines? Are they quick with approval?
- types of approval – some clients may prefer one approval channel or method over others, and you can specify it here if so.
- timeframe for approval and requesting corrections – you should set up from day one how long approval should take. Everyone has busy schedules but they should still respect each other’s time, so define the maximum period for approving posts and giving feedback requiring corrections.
- what can be done to get approval quicker – you might have some small ideas like “send a text to the client when the content plan is in their inbox”.
Step 5: Review and evaluation
This step is simply about checking if your elaborate social media workflow actually works. A social media approval process is like a shoe – it can be comfortable and take you places, but it can easily be too tight and cause blisters.
Get ready for necessary adjustments to your social media approval workflow, especially if you’re just starting out with it. Very rarely will it be spot on from the very beginning but rather some modifications will be required to better accommodate clients’ needs or make things easier for your team.
What, for example, could go wrong or be improved?
- the number of approval rounds – you might notice that there’s a bottleneck that delays the whole process
- a contact person who was assigned to some tasks leaves the company
- there’s no clear strategy or guidelines to follow, so there are a lot of mistakes and communication misunderstandings
Like with everything, sometimes even a small change (e.g. eliminating one approval round or shortening the time for content approval) can be really beneficial for the whole social media approval process.
Example of a social media approval process between an agency and a client
Your social media approval process should be SEA: Straightforward, Expandable, and Adjustable. If you’re looking for inspiration, let’s provide some via an example.
Client XYZ: a chain of three cafes in Boston. Derek is a Marketing Manager there who gives approval to social media plans. He’s a Client (C).
Agency XY: a medium-sized social media agency. The people involved in the Client XYZ project on which they work are Hannah (social media manager + moderator, SMM+M), Tina (social media leader, SML), Olaf (graphic designer – support, S).
The social media approval process for Client XYZ and Agency XY:
- Hannah (SMM) researches content for another month for the client’s Facebook profile.
- She then creates a list of keywords and post ideas to send for internal approval. This list includes the general idea about each post + quick brief for creatives. It is sent to Tina (SML).
- Tina verifies compliance with guidelines and checks for typos or duplicate content.
- Once checked and internally approved, Tina downloads Hannah’s ideas and sends them as a file to Derek (C).
- Derek checks the suggested content but two ideas don’t click with him, so he rejects the plan until they are replaced with something he prefers.
- Tina receives feedback from Derek and passes it onto Hannah.
- Hannah works on new ideas that are sent through Tina to Derek once ready.
- Derek gives the green light to work on creatives, then he wants to check the content plan as a whole with previews and all social media post elements.
- Hannah briefs Olaf (S) on creating graphics. Olaf has access to assets and knows Derek’s preferences, which he tries to stick to.
- Olaf sends the completed designs to Hannah.
- Hannah spots that he used the wrong template and requests corrections from Olaf.
- Olaf sends the new designs directly to Tina.
- Tina sends the reworked content plan to Derek.
- Derek has a few minor comments to apply when posting, but he likes the plan in general and so he gives the go ahead.
- Posts are being scheduled, but there is a slight change requested by Derek a few weeks later so Hannah needs to reschedule it in the content plan.
- Once scheduled, the posts are being monitored, boosted, and replied to if necessary by Hannah, who reports on progress to Tina.
- Tina sends monthly reports to Derek for approval.
There are only 4 people in this whole example social media approval process, yet it takes 16 steps anyway. Just imagine how messy it could get if there were more people and steps in the pipeline…
It doesn’t have to be a disaster, though. Not when you have a great social media workflow in place, and not when you have Kontentino at your disposal.
Design the perfect social media approval process with Kontentino
Kontentino can be a remedy for nonexistent or faulty social media approval processes.
Kontentino was born in a social media agency to meet the needs and struggles of social media agencies, not only with scheduling, but also with content approval and collaboration.
Here’s how you can take control over your social media workflow with Kontentino.
#1 Approval process made in heaven
One of the main native features in Kontentino is a content approval option.
You can send single posts or whole content plans to your clients with just a few clicks in order to get their approval, which they can give on desktops or mobiles. This saves a lot of time and helps you get the green light faster than ever before.
This also works for internal approval.
#2 Comments, tasks, and labels for better navigation
Even the best social media approval workflow can get messy if just one small element stops working, which is why you should always aim to simplify the navigation. With Kontentino’s features such as comments, tasks, and labels, you would have to try really hard to get lost.
#3 Live post preview
Many clients or supervisors may reject content if they can’t visualize how it will look once published. Agencies or teams are often too busy to create mockups, and if they are made then editing them can be difficult or even impossible if any additional corrections are required.
With Kontentino, you can see exactly how posts will look when they go live. If there are any changes required, they can be made and saved in real-time.
#4 Post requirement checklists
You’ve done it again – sent a content plan for approval with typos, missing important elements, or simply lacking hashtags? Now you need to send the right version, and your apologies. But with Kontentino, you don’t have to.
Thanks to post requirement checklists, you can set up a list of all the required elements to cross off every time you plan a post. This way, you won’t forget about any of the important elements in your content plan again. And even if somehow you still do occasionally, no worries – you can fix your mistakes straight away instead of sending hundreds of attachments (and “sorry”s).
#5 Quick communication
You can leave internal and external comments directly in Kontentino, access the conversation history, and check previous edits to narrow down each change or area for improvement.
The example of a Client XYZ & Agency workflow can happen in a single Kontentino dashboard instead of multiple emails, attachments, and documents. From A to Z.
Maybe one of these social media management tools will steal your marketing team’s heart. Read our list of the best Hootsuite alternatives.
Once again: you need a social media approval workflow
Can you manage multiple social media profiles without a social media approval process? Sure, but that would be like running a marathon in flip flops. While you may be able to do it, not only is the run itself uncomfortable but it may also cause a lot of problems afterwards.
You surely don’t want that feeling, so how about you start creating your own social media approval process as soon as possible instead?