When we’ve officially upgraded our approval workflow possibilities in the Planable app, I thought it’d be good timing to tackle this topic. Review and approval processes are not a sexy topic. Except for organizational freaks like me, people like to focus on innovation, creativity, and whatnot. But the truth is that these processes are the foundation of great content teams and without it, we’re just writing words, not creating magic.
Rather than twiddling your thumbs waiting for your teammate to see your message or email (been there, done that), or going ahead and publishing the post without getting feedback, make everything less tedious and safer by setting up a social media approval process.
So let’s break down the steps of creating an efficient social media content approval process and talk about its direct impact on your team’s results.
Who actually needs a social media content approval process
We all need some sort of approval process. Even when we say we don’t because “we trust each other”. As a general rule, our industry has to internalize that review and approval are important. They are not about control. Nor are they about a lack of trust. They’re simply there because more brains add up to better results, more pairs of eyes add up to flawless content, and more types of expertise add up to progress.
Avoiding approval processes is a big no-no. It makes social media management a minefield. There are two scenarios in which a lack of an approval process can end.
Best case scenario, the content team simply doesn’t see any progress. No feedback means no improvements. In the dynamic world of social media, you do not want to stand still.
Worst case scenario, the brand is in for a PR crisis. No review and approval processes mean no extra pairs of eyes to ensure the messaging is right, the content isn’t offensive, and the information isn’t sensitive.
The most frequent excuse I hear for not having a reviewing process is efficiency.
“We don’t want to waste time”
“We’re always moving fast”
This can’t be an excuse in today’s age. It simply can’t. Yes, if you need a meeting, a phone call, or even a thread of emails to collaborate on content, it’s inefficient. The team is wasting time. However, we now have tools.
Social media approval tools that empower collaboration for today’s day and age. With live previews, real-time collaboration, comments, approvals, and everything you’d need to host the perfect process.
Our Content Industry Report shows that 45% of marketers surveyed are losing 5.4 days on creating over 5 pieces of content per week.
If you’re creating at least 3 posts per week (which you most probably are), you’re losing up to 3 days to create, review, and approve, plus the actual publishing of the posts. This isn’t scalable. At all. A social media content approval process will actually save your time instead of wasting it. Just imagine how many extra pieces of quality content you can create with this much free time on your hands.
What does an ideal social media approval process look like?
Okay, so using multiple channels to get social media approvals is a no go. Now that you’ve left 2840347 chats and 239430 emails behind, it’s time to focus on the backbone of crafting the ideal content approval process.
It’s really just a matter of who, where, and how.
The second myth I want to debunk when it comes to social media processes is that you have to be selective with the people you involve. That’s not only false but also damaging.
Every person you involve can add a bit of value to the content you produce. Take, for example, the HR team. They might not be the closest friends of marketers, but they can have content ideas that would help with employee branding or recruiting.
Who should be involved in your approval process?
Before drawing your short approval process, you should think about who should be involved in it. A big temptation at this point is to quickly write down the people who actively give you feedback now.
Try to avoid that shortcut and really think who could provide any added value to what you’re doing. Think about it like this: people who are directly involved in content creation and people in the second line of approval.
Directly involved. Who is directly involved in content creation and also reviews content? It’s usually the higher-ups. Either the Team Manager, the Brand Manager, Marketing Consultant, or Account Manager. In smaller teams, it can be the Head of Marketing or CEO. Most often, this category sees content after it’s been proof-read by the person who created it. Social media processes differ from one team to another so this is a case-by-case kind of thing.
Second line of approval. This second line is usually people who should see content once it’s polished, checked, typo-free, and almost ready to go. That’s either because they’re very high-up, or because their feedback is only relevant if the content is 100% done. Think of legal. A few tweaks in the copy can fully change their feedback. Involving them in the process too soon would waste their time and make their feedback irrelevant.
Most often, the people involved in the second line of approval are the client if you’re an agency or the internal stakeholders if you’re in-house. Upper management, product managers, or line of business stakeholders.
Don’t be afraid to include everyone. It’s ok to have a few people whose approval is only needed every now and then. You can have more layers to your approval workflow so feel free to go crazy when mapping your team out.
Although literally everyone is involved in the social media approval process, nobody will feel the pressure of deadlines, missed feedback, or ‘oops I did it again’ posts. With a content approval and content review process, nothing gets lost in translation.
Having your team members, stakeholders, clients, or whoever you can think of in the process will not only save your time but will help you really focus on the quality of every piece of content. A👌 kinda content.
How to build your social media process?
Who is involved in the social media process? Who is in charge of creating posts? Who should review the content internally? Here are just a few questions to kick-start your brainstorming. Grab a pen and paper and start writing these down, while you’re at it. At least that’s what I’d do.
Your social media process is a journey your content travels before going live. From ideation to creation, review and approval, to publishing. Mapping out your social media approval process should include:
Steps. Start by pinpointing the steps each piece of content has to go through before going live. Ideation, copywriting, design, review, approval, publish. These are just my top of mind but feel free to make them your own. Also, some of them should include intermediary steps. Reviewing, for example, is probably a matter of proofreading, checking the design, timeline audit, and so on. Break them into smaller steps to ensure nothing is left out.
People. Now grab the people you’ve mapped out earlier and assign them to each step. Who’s involved when and why? Let’s take the graphic designer for example. He can’t do anything without a brief or guidelines from the content marketer. Or take the social media director, who can’t review the content without knowing the strategy and idea behind it. Be sure that the people involved match the steps of the marketing approval process.
Go-signs. You’re almost done. All you have to do now is just make sure it’s clear how the content travels from one step to the next. What’s the go-sign for each? Basically, you have to avoid situations in which content gets stuck in marketing approval processes due to lack of clarity. The goal is to build a seamless social media process, so don’t skip this part. No matter how “d’ooh” it might feel.
Think about whose approval is required, and whose is optional. Think about boxes rather than people. You can have multiple stakeholders on the same level from which you need only one approval. If you want to build a seamless content marketing workflow, enroll in our free academy. It’s got 20 experts from all over sharing their best insights.
As to where your marketing approval process should happen, this is an important one. The right environment can make managing and giving approvals easy. A social media approval tool has the power to give you flexibility and efficiency at the same time. ‘Cuz that’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it?
And now we get to where I wanted — Planable .
How Planable can help you build and manage the perfect social media approval process
Planable is great. Before you roll your eyes, you’re on our blog, what did you expect? How humble can one be?
In all seriousness, if there’s one thing we really do great, that’s social media collaboration processes. We’ve built this tool with teams in mind. It’s not an add-on, it’s not a feature, it’s an entire tool built for the sole sake of making social media collaboration seamless.
When it comes to approvals, we’ve just upgraded the way we facilitate them. We’ve redesigned it to make it suitable for any kind of team or set up. We now offer four different set-ups for approvals:
None. This one’s for the one-man shows. And I know I just ranted about how you should never ever not have an approval process. I stand by it. But we welcome any process on our platform. So I stand by that too. The “None” option makes it easy for those who don’t have approval processes to navigate our platform by taking the option off and keeping a minimalistic look.
Optional. This is for the open workflows. It’s suitable for teams who love to invite people in but don’t want to impose approvals. The way it works is that you can have dedicated approvers into your workflow, but if they don’t get the chance to look in time, you have the flexibility to push the content live.
Required. For safety and security, the required option means that no one can hit that publishing button until one of the approvers has given their OK. Once the stakeholders do approve the content, you can have the posts automatically scheduled for the set date. We find this option to really help agencies keep a trust-based and safe-centered relationship with their clients.
Multi-level. Or what I like to call it, the golden one. This has just been implemented and it’s already making our customers happier. The multi-level approval process means you can set up multiple approval layers and add stakeholders in each layer. You can have more than one stakeholder per level meaning any of their approval will move the status of the post forward.
I know, you’re already convinced, but there’s more. We facilitate approvals in a lot more ways than adjusting to each workflow. We ensure safety, efficient collaboration, and visibility.
Safety or the holiness of a social media approval structure
An ideal approval workflow doesn’t only have to be well-structured. It also has to be safe. The entire idea is to take the pressure off your team’s shoulders to check everything dozens of times and leave the worrying to the tech you’re using. Because humans are amazing, but they make mistakes. Flawlessness is not our species’ strongest point.
Safety means transparency and transparency means trust. Having an overview of the version history of the post, permissions and approvals leaves no space for questions like ‘who did this and who did that’, or ‘did the client see my post?’.
Version control. One of the great things about our tool is that we save for you each and every version of your post. And the details surrounding each action regarding the post. For each piece of content created in Planable, you can see such a log:
That helps by creating accountability and removing the “who’s-done-what” discussions. Also, it once again saves time as you can restore any previous version of the post if you changed your mind or made a mistake.
Permissions. To avoid any accidental publishing or edits, you have full control over the level of access your team has in your workspace. You can grant approval access only to the ones involved in your review workflow and avoid unintended greenlights.
Locking content. The third better-safe-than-sorry feature allows you to prevent further edits of your posts after it has been approved. Intentional or not, after a certain copy and image has received the final get-go, it only makes sense to lock the post in its current form.
Efficient collaboration or how to scale marketing efforts with social media approval process
Ensured safety helps in itself with making it all efficient. But social teams have a lot more time wasters than quadruple checking everything. One major time-waster is scattered communication. Discussing posts on emails, chats, phone calls, meetings, and extra columns in your excels is… you guessed it, inefficient.
Comments. In our platform, your entire team can discuss posts in context, right next to those posts. This means there’s no need to explain what you’re talking about or to point out the row and column. Our commenting feature allows for everything you’d hope for — tagging people, attaching files, creating threads, and resolving comments.
Internal notes & posts. Because not everybody should see everything, we allow for internal conversations as well. You can tag your workspace members as “team” or “client” which will allow you to have internal posts and notes hidden from the client’s or stakeholder’s sight.
Request approval. For the 90s generation, consider this feature the “Buzz” or “Nudge” of today’s age (for the rest, that was a reference to Yahoo Messenger or MSN Messenger). Basically, if your stakeholder happens to forget to give you that approval, you can ‘Poke’ them through this feature.
Visibility or how to say goodbye to “social media posts templates” Google searches
This is the true gem at the heart of Planable. We love showing marketers just how beautiful their content will be once it’s live. And we show them in all sorts of ways and scenarios. At 100% accuracy. Why so obsessed with this?
Firstly because we wanted to make a tool for design-freaks like us. We wanted each and every detail-obsessed perfectionist to feel at home in Planable. Secondly, because accuracy matters and being labeled as unprofessional is no treat. Lastly, because we’re tired of seeing conversations based on imagination. People have to talk about the same thing — the way the content will look like in the end. Not sketches, not print screens, not photoshopped mockups.
Live previews. We have a beautiful feed view that allows users to simply scroll through their content as they would in the native platform. We made it a mission to avoid any unnecessary extra clicks. There’s no “preview” button in Planable. Because everything is a preview.
WYSIWYG. Not only you can exactly see what your content will look like when you’re reviewing it, but you can preview it while creating it. Copied a link? The thumbnail will be generated in seconds. Added a video? You’ll be able to play it. Absolutely any change you make, you make it while seeing how it will look like in the end.
Calendar view. This is about visibility across your plans and campaigns. Our calendar view offers the chance to simply see everything at a glance. Distribution, balance, and strategic times. And if something’s off, the dragging & dropping feature makes it dead easy to rearrange content.
Grid view. Instagram is special and we love it for that. Which is why it needs its own view to make sure that your entire grid looks as beautiful as the feed. And exactly as above, if something’s off, you can play with your posts by dragging & dropping them.
Direct publishing. Talking of Instagram, publishing on the most visual platform can be painful if you have to do it manually. Or via push notifications in the middle of the night. On your phone. While you sleep. Because that’s when your audience is the most engaging. This is why Planable has direct publishing features for all its platforms. Instagram included. Say goodbye to using your mobile phone for publishing. Start enjoying your life again. The way you deserve.
That’s that. I sincerely hope that if I’ve managed to get you this far in my article, at least I got you convinced to design and apply an approval workflow in your team. As for Planable, I’m sure you’ll give it a go.
Miruna Dragomir, Marketing Manager @Planable. Social media fanatic, tech geek & a sucker for learning. Past experience? Social Media Comms Manager @Oracle & Marketing Coordinator @Uber