12 min read
Last week we’ve officially upgraded our approval workflow possibilities in the Planable app. So 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. 

Why it’s important to have 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 leads up to no good. It makes social media management a minefield. There are two scenarios with which a lack of an approval process can end. 
  • Best case scenario, the content team simply doesn’t 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. 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. 

What does an ideal social media approval process look like?

It’s really just a matter of who, where, and how. 
The second myth I want to debunk when it comes to review and approval 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. A good example is 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. 
So in terms of who should be involved in your approval process, think about it like this:
  • Who is directly involved in content creation? Team manager, Brand manager, or Account manager. 
  • Who is the second line of stakeholders who should only review content ready to go live? The client or the internal stakeholders such as upper management, product managers, or line of business stakeholders.
You can have more layers to your approval workflow so feel free to go crazy when drawing these out. 
The how part is about the rules you set for the reviewing process. 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. 
As to where, it’s important to have the right environment that makes managing and giving approvals easy. 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?

via GIPHY

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

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. 
  • 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. social media content approval process permissions planable
  • 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.
social media content approval process lock content planable

Efficient collaboration

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. 

social media content approval process comments planable

  • 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

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. 
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, Head of Marketing @Planable. Social media fanatic, tech geek & a nerd when it comes to learning. Past experience? Social Media Comms Manager @Oracle & Marketing Coordinator @Uber
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