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How To Design An Effective Social Media Content Workflow With Your Clients

  • 12 Minutes
Workflows are crucial for success - here's how to turn your friction-ridden flow into smooth sailing success.

Whether you’re a freelance social media marketer, running a social media agency or working in-house, you know that content workflows are crucial to your success.

Without clear review and approval processes in place, you’ll spend all your time chasing up your clients, actioning last-minute feedback or publishing content day-by-day. 

However, developing clear social media management workflows isn’t as hard as you might think and will deliver tangible results for you and your clients. 

Let’s run you through the ingredients of effective social media approval workflows, how these workflows can make your life easier and our seven-step guide to bringing your own social media marketing workflow to life. 

What is a social media marketing workflow?

Think about all the steps involved in creating a single social media post. You’ve got to make sure the post topic aligns with your client’s social media strategy, design on-brand graphics, craft a compelling caption and get your client to review and approve the post (all before it’s due to go live). 

These tasks are what’s called a social media workflow. They’re all those instinctual steps you take as a social media manager to get your client’s posts from an idea in a content calendar to a published piece of content on Instagram, Facebook, TikTik, LinkedIn or any other social network. 

How does an approval process streamline your workflow as a social media manager?

Designing social media workflows is all about taking the guesswork out of your content creation and publishing processes. And here’s how a social media workflow will make your life easier:

  • Clear roles and responsibilities: social media workflows give everyone in your agency and your client’s businesses a role to play in bringing their social media content to life. This removes ambiguity and ensures everyone works effectively (without doubling up on tasks). 
  • Defined deadlines for feedback: tired of chasing your clients for approval? Your social media workflows are built around deadlines that ensure everyone is held accountable and on the same page about what needs to happen (and when).
  • Plan and schedule posts proactively: rather than posting to your client’s social media channels whenever they get around to approving posts, your workflow will allow you to streamline your content creation and allow you to schedule content ahead of time. 

In a nutshell, a social media workflow gives all stakeholders and team members a clear picture of how your client’s social media content calendar works, when pieces of content need to be approved and how content approval processes will work. 

It’s all about giving rhythm, organisation and structure to your social media marketing strategy and ensuring team collaboration runs smoothly.

7 steps to creating an effective social media workflow 

Ready to streamline your content approval processes and take your social media content creation workflow to the next level? Here’s your step-by-step guide to designing social media content approvals as a freelance marketer.

1. Develop a clear scope of work 

The best client relationships begin with a clear understanding of what work you will and will not be performing. As a freelance social media manager, it’s your job to set expectations from day one by creating a clearly defined scope of work with your clients. 

Not only does a scope of work help you avoid scope creep but it helps you price your services consistently. Plus, it gives your clients the assurance that they know exactly what tasks you’ll be managing and how you’ll be helping their social media platforms grow. 

So, what does a clear scope of work include?

  • Deliverables: start by listing out exactly what tasks you’ll be managing for your client’s social media presence. Be specific and list out what tasks you’ll be performing on a monthly basis vs. an ad hoc or project basis for total transparency.
  • Timelines: be upfront about how long it will take you and your team to complete these tasks each month, and when your clients can expect work from you. Plus, it’s also worth flagging when you’ll need your clients to review and approve work each month.
  • Reporting milestones: explain how often you’ll be providing social media reports (a monthly social media report is a good place to start) and an overview of what’s included in these performance reports, including the specific metrics you’ll be tracking.
  • Payment terms: it’s also important to spell out exactly how much you’re going to charge your clients on a monthly basis for your social media management and content creation services. Plus, spell out your invoicing terms and how you’ll bill for extra rounds of changes or additional tasks that may crop up.

Be sure to supply your client with a retainer agreement or contract that also spells out things like your notice period as well. It’s always a smart move to get everything in writing from day one.

2. Create a social media strategy with your approval process in mind

As a social media manager or content creator, having a social media strategy in place for each of your clients will make your life so much easier. But it’s also important to design this social strategy with your client workflows in mind. 

This means considering:

  • How many social media platforms are you posting to? While showing up on every social media network might sound helpful to help your client boost reach and brand awareness, it can be difficult for you to manage as a sole freelancer.
  • How many posts per week are you planning to schedule to each channel? Posting multiple times per day on each social media platform is only feasible if your client is able to review and approve content quickly and you have the internal resources to manage this high volume of posts.
  • How are you going to manage seasonal campaigns along with your client’s ongoing social media content? Plus, factoring in busy sales seasons is essential to ensure your workflows remain watertight at all times of the year.

It’s all about setting yourself up for success by ensuring your social media strategy is achievable, management and realistic from a workflow perspective, too. 

3. Assign roles and responsibilities in your social media workflow

When thinking about the social media management process, there are a few key stages:

  • Ideation and strategy: the strategists and social media managers who are tasked with coming up with content pillars, themes, tone of voice guidelines and benchmarks for a client’s social media presence. 
  • Content creation: the content creators, copywriters, and graphic designers who are tasked with bringing each post to life, from designing templates to writing copy in a client’s brand voice to selecting the right hashtags.
  • Content review and approvals: the main point of contact who will be responsible for reviewing and signing off social media content created by your team. 
  • Content scheduling and publishing: the social media manager who are tasked with uploading this approved content to a social media scheduling tool (like Sked Social)

By being clear about who is doing what, you and your client will be on the same page from the beginning to ensure a smooth working relationship and easy content review processes.

4. Use social media management tools 

Social media management and scheduling tools are your secret weapon to success as a freelance social media marketer. From creating your monthly content calendars to approving social posts, these platforms remove the need for manual spreadsheets that can slow down your workflow. 

Obviously, we’re a tad biased, but we reckon Sked Social is the ultimate all-in-one social media workflow tool for marketers and content creators. And here’s why:

  • Manage your social media calendars with ease and use our drag-and-drop features to get the order of your social posts just right. Plus, you’ll score a visual preview of your clients’ Instagram grid to create consistency and flow between posts. 
  • Simple post review and approvals are managed entirely within the Sked platform. Rather than going back and forth over email, your branded client portal allows clients to sign off designs and copy in seconds and leave comments you can easily action. 
  • Get everything sorted ahead of time and published while you sleep with our auto-posting features on Instagram Stories (and almost every other content format, too). 
  • Grow your social media agency and manage multiple clients with ease, and enjoy easy cross-platform management. With one login, you can keep tabs on all your client’s social media content and score unlimited free users to keep expenses down. 
  • Make reporting time a breeze with our advanced analytics features that let you pinpoint what is and isn’t working in minutes. 

Designing high-quality content marketing on social media is all about having support in place to let you focus on what you do best. 

Rather than focusing on developing manual content calendars, emailing clients for content approvals or chasing your team for assets, social media tools allow you to work smarter (not harder) and get more done to scale your business. 

5. Set timelines for every stage of the content creation workflow process

The best social media workflows are driven by one thing: deadlines. 

Not only is this what will help keep your team of content creators, designs and copywriters focused, but will ensure your client’s team knows exactly when they need to action tasks. 

Essentially, setting timelines is all about ensuring every team member and stakeholder is aware of the due dates for content, when posts need to be reviewed and when posts will be scheduled. 

When it comes to setting timelines for your social media workflow, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • When do you need your client to supply any relevant content? Whether you schedule a monthly meeting to run through your next batch of posts or get them to fill out a briefing document, be really clear with when you need this information from them each month.
  • How long does your team need to design, write and prepare each batch of content? This is all about giving your internal team enough time to work their magic and bring your client’s social media content to life.
  • When do your clients need to provide feedback? This is about setting expectations about when drafts will be provided and how long they have to review this content.
  • When do you need content finalised? This is about factoring in a couple of rounds of changes and ensuring you leave your team enough time to get posts scheduled ahead of time. 

By getting into a regular rhythm from the beginning of your partnership, you and your client’s teams will have a much happier, more productive working relationship. 

6. Have clear feedback and social media approval processes

Even with the best social media content strategy in place, things can fall down if you don’t have a robust plan in place for managing approvals and content changes. 

The more clients you take on, the more important it is to have structured systems around approval processes. Why? Because more clients mean more moving parts and more deadlines to manage.

Along with clear deadlines, it’s also important to make it as easy as possible for your clients to leave feedback and share content changes with your marketing team. That means:

  • Having a single place to share feedback (such as using a tool like Sked Social to manage all comments in one easy-to-use digital platform).
  • Being clear about how many rounds of changes you offer to your clients and ensuring everyone knows the additional costs and impacts of extra rounds of changes. 
  • Setting expectations about what happens if posts aren’t reviewed in time (and how this may impact their social media results and campaigns). 

It can be easy to spend a lot of time following up on post approvals and ensuring your social media team has content signed off in time to schedule. But with clear feedback processes, you can streamline your workflows and ensure no post slips through the cracks. 

7. Review and refine your social media workflow 

The best social media workflows evolve over time, especially as your client’s social media presence grows. So, you should also factor in check-in milestones where your team can review and refine your processes. 

Whether this happens monthly, quarterly or annually, make sure you reflect on: 

  • Is your team spending too much time doing redundant tasks?
  • Is there overlap between team members on certain tasks?
  • Are there easier ways to complete certain tasks?
  • Are there tasks that need to be removed entirely?
  • Are there any steps missing from your workflow?

Create open and honest feedback loops with your clients to ensure they feel involved in this process, too. By designing your social media workflows collaboratively you’ll be more likely to get buy-in from their team from day one. 

And that’s a wrap! When it comes to designing effective workflows, it’s all about having the right plans and frameworks in place to help everyone work smarter not harder. By giving your social media team enough time and the right resources you can ensure they deliver the best content possible to your social media marketing clients.

Photo of Photo of Kyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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