5 Steps for Creating a Perfect Social Media Content Workflow

Want to improve your social media game? Looking for advice on creating a perfect social media content workflow to make it happen?

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FACT: Managing social media content has never been easy. But over the last couple of years, with the rise of many new networks, media formats, and strategies, the whole thing has become almost impossible to oversee. 

And yet, we have no choice but to do it. We can’t ignore social media. Even academic scholars admit that social media is the most common marketing tactic for B2B businesses. According to this research, for example, 83% of companies use social media to connect with and reach new customers. And 50% of them admit that social media has improved their marketing and customer experience.

So, how do you do it? How do you manage the social media presence, plan, schedule, and publish high-quality content on time across all those networks, and track the results? 

Well, that’s what you’ll find out in this post. You’ll learn how to create a social media content workflow and get better results from your social media marketing. 

So, let’s take it from the top.

What is a Social Media Content Workflow?

The term – social media content workflow – refers to a system defining how you and the entire social media team create, schedule, publish, and track social media posts fast and without errors.

In short, the workflow defines your social media publishing process from start to finish. With it, your team members can deliver successful content across multiple social media channels consistently and efficiently. 

But as you’ll see shortly, for it to work, the process must define almost every aspect of the content strategy – From roles and responsibilities, quality standards to all steps necessary to turn an idea into a published piece of content that drives your brand forward. 

But great as it sounds, do you really need the workflow? Is it worth it for you to invest time and effort into creating it?

Let’s take a look.

Benefits of creating a social media content workflow

We’ve already mentioned some of the benefits of having a workflow to manage social media content – greater productivity, for example. 

But there is much more to it, and here are other benefits you can experience after launching the workflow.

#1. Incredible efficiency

You don’t need a defined process to manage social media publishing, but only if you occasionally create such content. 

However, if your brand is serious about social media and publishes many assets across various social media platforms, it’s a completely different story, isn’t it? 

Suddenly, with such an intense production, just sending an email to designers asking for a particular image won’t cut it. 

The request will, most likely, get buried among other emails and ignored until it’s already too late. 

With a system and tools to manage the process, everyone will work efficiently, getting social media content done on time and to the highest standards.

#2. Zero errors

Another common scenario – You request a particular content from the design team. You eventually receive the file, excited; you open it up only to realize that it’s not what you expected.

The colors are wrong. Or the image hasn’t been cropped correctly, and the typography doesn’t match the company’s standards. 

Such issues are often a result of chaotic content production. When no one really knows who should do what, chaos ensues, and mistakes happen. 

The social media content workflow defines all aspects of the production process, removing such chaos and reducing the possibility of errors to a minimum. 

#3. Less stress

This benefit goes hand in hand with what we discussed above. A better organization of the production and greater control diminish the stress associated with projects almost to zero. 

Sure, there might still be some challenges that will elevate your heart rate. However, there will be significantly fewer of them once you create the workflow.

#4. Faster and more streamlined production

Finally, the workflow will ensure that production will happen on time and within budget. Everyone involved will know exactly what they need to do when their work is due and what should happen next. No one will need to figure out what tasks they should focus on and whom to notify about their work. 

In short, things happen without stress, chaos, and mistakes with the workflow. 

A Typical Social Media Team

Before we discuss how to create the workflow, we need to understand who’s typically involved in the social media content production. 

And for most organizations, the typical social media team consists of the following members:

  • Content creators: These team members include social media copywriters, designers, video creators, and anyone else involved in creating assets to post on social media.
  • Social media content editors: These people are responsible for overseeing the content’s quality. Editors focus on asset gathering and online proofing. They also review the content and ensure that it meets project objectives and the company’s quality standards. 
  • Social media managers: Social media managers are in charge of the organization’s entire social media presence and, therefore, might want to also oversee each content production project.
  • Marketing managers: Often, marketing teams will also want to have input on what the social team is doing. This might include generating ideas for new campaigns or ensuring that social media content aligns with the overall marketing strategy. 
  • The legal team: The company’s legal team might want to collaborate with you to ensure that there are no legal issues with the content you publish. 
  • Product teams: These people might want to ensure that your content represents the product correctly. As a result, they might need to be involved at some stages of the workflow or the review process
  • Contractors or third-party providers: You might be using external content providers or agencies, so they should also be part of the workflow.

8 Stages of a Typical Social Media Content Workflow

Next, let’s look at everything that happens during a typical social media content production.

A quick note before we begin – What you’ll read in this section isn’t the workflow yet. However, this information will form a major part of the workflow you will create soon. It defines the very elements that make up a typical social media content workflow. 

So, without any further ado, here’s what happens during a typical content production for social media.

Content ideation: Every campaign starts with an idea, a concept that gets developed further until you receive a complete brief to produce.

Asset gathering: Some social media posts require little new content to create. Others, however, might require content creators to design new visuals and other assets. Those, in turn, will require additional elements. At this stage, a person you designate to oversee the process collects information about what assets are required and gathers them in one place for creators to access. 

TIP: Gathering assets is one of the most challenging aspects of the process. Without a proper file management system, assets get lost, recent versions get overwritten, teams use wrong visuals, etc. Consider using dedicated digital asset management software to organize all files in a single location.

Content production: The bulk of the process is taken by creating required assets. Content creators work on visuals, videos, copy, and other assets required at this stage. 

Important to understand – The result of this process is not a completed project. Teams deliver only the first draft of the content asset required at this stage. From then on, such asset needs to go through a complete content approval workflow to ensure that it meets project objectives and get sign-offs from relevant project stakeholders.  

Review and approvals: At this stage, various team members get to review and comment on the first draft. This process aims to ensure that the file meets all the project requirements and the company’s quality standards. Often, this stage also includes reviews by legal and other teams to ensure that the product and company are correctly represented and there are no legal issues with the content. 

The approval process might include several stages of reviews. Each stage is then followed by revisions that implement the feedback. The process typically ends when all feedback is exhausted and the file is ready to be signed off by the most senior stakeholder. 

Final sign-off: Every workflow must define the one person who has the power to approve the final version of the project and move it to be scheduled for social media channels. 

Scheduling: With the content production completed, relevant teams schedule the asset to various social media channels. For most companies, this involves adding the new post to their social media calendars and scheduling it to go live at a specific time. 

Therefore, this part of the workflow must define the exact process for adding content to the social media schedule, from formats for various platforms to publishing guidelines, timelines, etc. 

Post promotion: A major part of social media campaigns is generating content awareness. This stage focuses entirely on ensuring that your audience sees the post and engages with it fully.

Engagement analysis and data review: Most social media content aims to engage with your audience. Therefore, the entire process must also include a stage during which you analyze the campaign results and draw conclusions that will help you improve your future projects. 

When defining this stage, you need to outline where to get the data from, how to interpret it, and assess the campaign’s performance. Finally, the process should also define how you document your findings and how these should be used in future campaigns.

Important to note about the stages

As you can see from the overview above, each section is critical to your content’s success. None of them could be skipped without sacrificing an important aspect of the project and affecting the results. 

But for them to work in your workflow, you need to define four particular aspects of each stage:

  • A list of stakeholders involved in the stage, with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The list should also include information on whom has the authority to sign off at each stage. 
  • Steps required to complete each stage. Teams can use these steps to understand what needs to be done and in what order.
  • Information on what the completed stage looks like. In other words, you need to explain the completed stage so that everyone involved knows when their work is done. This process is simple for certain stages, content production, for example. However, you also need to define when to conclude the feedback process and other stages. Otherwise, they might run forever, as no one will know when the objective of the section has been reached.
  • Timelines and schedules for completion. Finally, you should provide each team with information on how long each stage should take and define a cut-off point for feedback and reviews. This information will help you prevent the review stage from taking forever (as it often does without clearly defined cutoff times).

A quick note about using workflows you find online

Many websites offer ready-made workflows and templates that you could use right away and improve your social media game. 

There is nothing inherently bad about those templates except for one thing:

These templates are generic and rarely match your internal structure and processes perfectly. 

But the thing about workflows is that, for them to work, they need to align with your organization perfectly. And the only way to achieve this is by creating a custom workflow that focuses on your unique situation.

And here’s how to do it. 

How to Create a Custom Social Media Workflow

Good news first – The process is relatively straightforward, with only five major steps. 

Bad news? Well, it involves a lot of planning and figuring out how things work now vs. how they should be done. 

The five steps are:

  • Defining the team
  • Specifying production stages and steps in each stage
  • Defining roles and responsibilities across all workflow stages
  • Defining publishing guidelines
  • Creating the approval process.

Let’s go through them in turn.

Step 1. Defining the Team and Getting Everyone Onboard

We discussed a typical social media team structure in an earlier section. But naturally, the list included all possible teams involved in the workflow. Your organization might not even have some of those teams. Or their interest in social media campaigns or content marketing might be minimal. 

So, as the first step, you need to define who will be working with you on producing and scheduling social media content. 

But that’s just the first step. Next, you also need to get all those people on board with the workflow. 

The best way to do it is by bringing everyone together and explaining the idea behind the workflow. Another good idea is to get various teams involved in defining their processes and steps at relevant workflow stages. 

For example:

  • Content creators could help you define timelines for various types of content assets. 
  • Social media editors could help outline the briefing stage. This way, they could ensure that briefs explain their projects correctly and provide teams with all the information they need to complete them. 
  • Legal teams could help define steps and processes for getting content assets approved from their point of view, and so on. 
  • And all teams could help you understand where the most common bottlenecks in their processes happen. 

Step 2. Specify production stages and steps in each stage

We’ve already covered all the typical social media content production process stages. But just like with the team structure, you need to specify how those stages should be done in your organization. 

Different organizations would complete their projects differently. One company might require additional feedback stages; another would push the content live faster. 

The same applies to completing specific tasks. 

Some design teams work faster. Others require more time because they include additional steps and proofing stages in their processes. 

Many editors prefer working with a completed draft. But there are also some who want to be more involved in the production stage as well. 

So, this is also a good stage to get all teams involved in defining their processes. Here are some ideas for that. 

  • Get all teams to outline how they do things, including all major steps in the process. 
  • Ask them to share with you their challenges as well. Every process has bottlenecks, and you have an opportunity to eliminate at least some of them when designing the workflow. 
  • Cross-reference these processes with other teams to see whether there are any opportunities to streamline steps.

At the end of this stage, you should understand all the production stages and how to complete them. 

This step should end with setting all those stages up in your content production management tool.

Stage 3. Defining roles

This step has one major aspect – Defining who has the final say in each stage of the workflow. 

You’ll have people involved in creating and overseeing the project at every stage. Creators will work on visual assets and the copy; editors will be responsible for evaluating those assets, etc. 

But there should also be one person designated to declare a stage as completed. 

The person will decide when all feedback has been exhausted and the project is ready to move to the next stage. 

Stage 4. Defining publishing guidelines

This step is relatively easy, at least compared to the work you’ve done so far. 

That’s mostly because a lot of what you define here relates to guidelines specified by the different social media channels. Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and others have specific guidelines for what constitutes good content, including image sizes and more. 

That said, your process here should also include information to make it easy for teams to complete projects for each network. 

And so, your publishing guidelines should also cover:

  • What information to publish on each network
  • Audiences on each network, their characteristics, and how you will engage with them
  • Most common formats and file sizes to use
  • Image specs to define how to represent the brand visually
  • Any legal rules to follow to avoid problems
  • Assets to use, and where to find them
  • And even information about whom to contact in case of issues.

Stage 5. Creating the approval process

Finally, you need to define how you’re going to move from one stage of the workflow to another. 

The process, typically, involves getting the work completed to date reviewed and approved by relevant stakeholders. 

In an earlier step, you defined who those people are for each team. Now, you need to outline the process they will go through when collecting feedback, analyzing and acting on it, and providing the final sign-off.

NOTE – We’ve outlined how to create a content approval workflow in an earlier post. Here is a quick recap (but do check out the full guide to learn all the ins and outs of the process.)

The approval process should begin before the content production begins. In fact, you should have a process for approving each project stage, from the initial idea to the completed asset. 

The process should define steps for approving:

  • New social media content requests
  • Various stages of the content production and revisions
  • Editing and getting the asset ready for publication
  • Distribution and scheduling the asset for the many social media platforms
  • Final sign off before publication

TIP: Check out our full guide to creating content approval workflows here to see examples of different approval processes.

How to Take Your Social Media Content Workflow to the Next Level

There is one more thing to consider with social media workflows – how you are going to manage the entire process. 

As you’ve discovered from this guide, defining the workflow is a major and complicated step. But managing it and ensuring that everyone follows your plan is something even harder. 

That’s why, to make sure that your workflow works and helps you get more social media content published, consider using a dedicated content collaboration and workflow software like CELUM. 

CELUM (full disclaimer – this is our tool) is a complete content collaboration and workflow management platform for brands that are serious about their content. 

With CELUM, you get access to everything you need to plan and implement social media content workflows into your organization:

  • Full workflow management – easily build custom workflows and automate tasks for all project types you typically work on. 
  • Collaboration tools that bring all your tasks, files, and teams together. 
  • A content hub to organize and store digital assets in one place.
  • Online proofing tools for collecting and processing feedback. 
  • And more. 

Interested in seeing CELUM in action?

See how CELUM will help you take your social media workflow to the next level.

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