How to Design an Efficient Social Media Approval Workflow


Social media mistakes happen — but they don’t have to. Setting up an efficient social media approval workflow decreases the risk of publishing errors. And the risk of sending out content that is off-brand or low-quality also decreases. 

Maybe it’s happened to you. You notice a spelling mistake after you’ve sent a Tweet. Or you’re called out for an embarrassing grammar typo in the Facebook comments. Oops. 

With a social media content approval process in place, all content is vetted, edited and approved by select team members ahead of publication. 

This article outlines:

  • The benefits of creating a social media approval workflow. 
  • How to create a workflow that is efficient for your team.
  • Some examples of social media approval tools and social media approval apps.

4 benefits of creating a social media approval process

You spend a lot of time crafting a social media marketing strategy that works for your brand. And when created efficiently, a social media approval workflow will help maintain the quality of the content your brand publishes on its social channels. 

With a social media approval process in place, you can:

Ensure social media content is polished and consistent

A social media approval process assigns specific team members to specific tasks. One of those tasks in the workflow process involves editing content before publication. 

The employee responsible for editing and approving content ensures everything is correct, on-brand and consistent with the brand’s social media guidelines before it goes live. 

Basically, there are extra sets of eyes reviewing content, making sure errors or off-brand posts don’t slip through the cracks. 

Supervise the work of new hires

It takes time for new employees to become familiar with your brand’s social media policy. As new employees learn, a social media approval workflow can limit who publishes content to go live. 

For example, using a social media approval software can limit an intern or new hire’s access to social media platforms and limit accidental posting or scheduling. New hires can  still work on social media content, but this process reduces the risk that something will get published that breaches company policy, is incorrect, or simply isn’t in keeping with the brand’s style. 

Limit password sharing

With large teams, password sharing can become a security issue. Or for third party companies working on social media, client approval is needed before publishing.

With an approval workflow set up, you can limit password sharing to team members who approve content at the final stage of the process. 

Encourage collaboration in an efficient way

Constantly looping in your whole team — plus multiple stakeholders — interferes with efficiency, slows down workflow and can affect your social media content calendar. An approval workflow streamlines the process and increases productivity.

That’s because a social media content approval process clearly outlines employees’ roles. When specific requests arise, employees know who is responsible for each step of the process. This means employees can collaborate directly and efficiently. Not everyone needs to see everything every step of the way.

Plus, an approval workflow helps employees stay on schedule. It prevents content building up, being forgotten about, or not getting published. That is, it’s harder to forget to publish something if a person other than yourself is also expecting to see it. Hurray deadline accountability!

How to create a social media approval process

social media approval checklist

By taking these steps, you can create an approval process that works for your entire social media team. 

Step 1: Know how an approval process ties into your social media strategy 

While your social media strategy is likely to evolve as your brand grows, make sure you know your short-term social media goals and how you’re going to meet them.

  • Know what a standard week of social media looks like for your brand. Which social platforms do you use and how many posts do you create? 
  • Know what your brand is trying to achieve over social media. And do all employees working on social media understand these goals?
  • Know what happens if a mistake falls through the cracks. Who is responsible for following up if there are issues?

Step 2: Clarify who’s involved and what everyone’s role is

For the social media content workflow to be as efficient as possible, only involve the core team actively working on your brand’s social media presence. Then, trust those team members to do what they do best!

Which employees are involved — and how many employees are involved — will differ depending on the size of your company. To start, know how you’ll organize your teams and the social networks your brand uses. 

Organization flow chart divided into Teams, then Members, and on the other side is social networks

For example, you should know:

  • Who creates and schedules social media content
  • Who edits content to maintain quality
  • Who approves and publishes content 

In a mid-sized company, the approval process might include the following employees:

Content creators

The work that these employees do comes first in a social media approval process. 

Social media content creator

These are the employees researching ideas for new content, writing content, filling the content calendar and identifying gaps. They might also be responsible for scheduling content for ideal days and times based on social media analytics

Social media designers

The social media designers will collaborate with the writers on accompanying imagery or graphics. 

Social media video editors

If video is needed on social media, these employees will be brought in to collaborate with content creators and designers.  

Content editors

After the content is drafted, the process moves up the company’s hierarchy for approval. These employees are responsible for ensuring content goes out on time, for preventing the backlog of content, and for editing content for quality. 

Social media editor

This employee’s role might be to edit posts and make sure all content is error-free and on-brand. They might also communicate requests for changes with the creators. 

Social media manager manager 

This employee might approve content and make sure everything is scheduled to go live at the right time. 

The social media editor and social media manager might also have greater access across the social media approval tool or social media approval app you’re using. 

For example, in Hootsuite, permission settings can be controlled and restricted. You can limit content creators’ access so only editors and managers can publish content. This eliminates content accidentally going live before it’s been approved. 

Marking a team member with "no permissions" in Hootsuite

It also streamlines the workflow process. Hootsuite lets users edit an approval workflow, making it easy for employees to track when their input is needed and when their task is completed.

Edit custom approvals in Hootsuite

Step 3: Outline your brand’s content expectations

What kind of content does your brand post? What language does your brand use? Is your brand’s tone playful and fun? Or informative and serious? What’s your stance on hashtags and emojis? These are all things to consider to ensure your brand’s social media content is consistent, high quality and always on-brand. 

Make sure your company has created a style guide for its employees to refer to. This is a detailed document outlining how your social media is portrayed. It could include everything from tone and writing style to branding colors, photo usage and font. 

Step 4: Set a timeline from creation to publication 

Give yourself enough time to get that quality content written, edited and scheduled! 

Determine how long it takes the creators to write a bulk of content. Next, determine how long it takes to edit that content, schedule it and have it approved. Then, set up a workflow timeline that seems fair based on that knowledge.

The timeline you set will depend on the volume of social media content your brand creates, the size of your team, and each employee’s workload. 

Step 5: Set deadlines for everyone involved in the workflow

Setting deadlines for each employee involved in the social media approval process will help avoid last-minute posting and editing. It will help avoid content trickling in for approval. And it will help prevent content bottlenecking. 

Pick regular deadlines for everyone in the approval process to meet and a schedule where everyone is held accountable for delivering on time. 

For example, a social media approval process template might involve: 

  • Creators delivering drafted content by the 15th of every month. 
  • Editors delivering finalized content by the 20th of every month. 
  • Managers scheduling edited, quality content for the following month before the current month’s end.

Step 6: Outline a notification process for feedback

How does the approver receive notification of when content is completed? How do the creators know if edits are needed? 

Maybe you use email, Slack notifications or a different social media approval app. 

But we should probably mention that using Hootsuite as your social media approval tool lets you set up alerts so you’ll never miss a message or assigned task. See below:

Notification settings for Hootsuite

Notification for a social media post that needs approval in the Hootsuite dashboard

Hootsuite also lets approvers provide feedback in the same platform: 

Approve message in the Hootsuite dashboard

Reject Message with space for reason in Hootsuite dashboard

Step 7: Incorporate tools that identify problems

By incorporating digital tools into your approval workflow, you’re further eliminating the chance that human error lets mistakes sneak through the approval process. 

Encourage your team to make use of tools and apps like:  

  • Grammarly for support with spelling, grammar and writing clarity. 
  • Canva for design support. 
  • BeFunky for photo editing support. 

Step 8: Keep track of how it all goes 

Finally, take the time to reflect on how the process went for everyone involved in the process. Discuss where there might be room for improvements. 

Maybe you start by using a social media approval process template, and then adapt that to meet the unique needs and goals of your brand and team. 

3 social media approval tools your team can use

Just as there’s no one social media approval process template that works better than another, there is not one approval tool or app to choose from. Depending on the size of your team and your social media strategy, different tools might better fit your needs. 

Here are just four options to consider. 

1. Hootsuite

As well as allowing teams to schedule social media posts for numerous social platforms, Hootsuite Enterprise allows users to invite employees onto teams, group employees by task and assign tasks to specific team members. Also, users can set permission and access settings.

Inviting new team members in Hootsuite dashboard

Plus, Hootsuite allows users to bulk schedule up to 350 social media posts. This is ideal for brands creating lots of content across multiple social channels. 

Using Hootsuite means every part of the workflow process can happen in the same platform. Content can be drafted, edited and approved all in the Hootsuite dashboard. 

Here’s how your team’s senior employees can use Hootsuite to approve posts composed by its social media creators:

2. Google Sheets

For teams already comfortable on Microsoft platforms, Google Sheets can be effective for drafting, editing and collaborating on content. Because it doesn’t directly connect to your brand’s social platforms, this tool can be ideal for teams that want to limit password sharing and restrict access to social channels. 

3. Trello

This tool helps keep teams organized when it comes to collaboration. Organize tasks and colour-code them into Trello’s cards and boards. Allocate tasks to a team member and mark your task as complete when your task is through. And with the “mention” feature, you’ll know your team member is alerted as the process moves along. 

This tool elevates communication. The drag-and-drop feature makes it user-friendly, it visualizes the workflow process, and the whole team can be in-the-know as the approval process unfolds. 

Use Hootsuite’s social media approval features to make sure none of your posts fall through the cracks again. Assign work to your teammates, get notifications when content needs to be edited, and provide feedback to each other — all from the same dashboard. Try it free today.

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