Reality check: social media is rarely a “solo act” for businesses today.

From content creation to distribution and beyond, collaboration is key to any successful social campaign.

For example, who’s optimizing your social content? Who’s responsible for scheduling? Who has the “final word” on what gets published?

But while teamwork is critical for marketers today, getting everyone on the same page can be a headache. In fact, publishing content is cited among the top challenges marketers face according to the Sprout Social Index™, Edition XVI: Above & Beyond.

That’s exactly why you need to put together a social media approval process.

And in this guide, we’ll highlight how to create a workflow that brings your team together and makes them more efficient, too.

6 steps to putting together social media approval workflow

Keep in mind that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to your approval process.

Thankfully, you have the freedom to build your own based on the size of your team.

Below we’ve broken down the key steps to a content approval workflow that’s fair game for agencies, massive marketing teams and anyone in-between.

1. Assemble your team and determine your decision-makers

First thing’s first: figuring out the key players in your content workflow.

From fine-tuning your messaging to making sure that your posts are optimized, there are a variety of people responsible for the moving pieces of your social presence.

For example, your team might include any combination of the following:

  • Social media and community managers
  • Content creators, designers and copywriters
  • C-level executives
  • Team members from other departments (think: sales)

With a team collaboration tool like Sprout Social, you can define these clearly. Want to add someone to your social squad? Want to include someone whose sole job is giving posts their “green light?” No matter how big or small your team might be, Sprout allows you to designate authors and workflows that keep your content moving.

Social media approval list of users in Sprout Social

Defining roles is a key step in the approval process.

In short, you need to decide who’s involved in your social media approval process to, well, approve things. You likewise need to decide who has permission to upload content and make revisions.

social media approval required in sprout

In terms of how many people should be included as part of your social media approval workflow, we recommend keeping it on the smaller side. Doing so can help avoid bottlenecks and ensure that content moves from person to person in a timely manner. As a team, decide who really needs to see your content before it gets published.

2. Organize your social assets and deliverables

Putting together a social message might seem pretty straightforward.

However, consider the decision-making and discussion that goes into the following:

  • Crafting on-brand social captions
  • Picking photos and videos for any given social post
  • Providing links to relevant promotions and pages
  • Responding to customer questions and concerns

And when you’re a business that’s interacting with hundreds or thousands of customers, organizing these moving pieces is a must-do.

That’s where tools like Sprout’s asset library come in handy. Rather than scramble for responses to second-guess where a particular photo or piece of content is, your team can access them in one place.

Sprout Social Asset Library allows you to curate approved imagery and messages for use

Beyond creatives, Sprout also allows you to save common replies to customer questions and concerns. This allows you to address concerns quickly and without having to freestyle or risk pointing customers in the wrong direction.

3. Establish a social media approval timeline

One of the biggest benefits of establishing a content workflow is not having to scramble for content.

Ideally, your social media approval process should enable you to stick to a specific schedule.

Not only should you have a designated timeline for posts (think: how many per day or week), but also how long it takes for them to get approved. Doing so is especially important when you’re running social media campaigns that are time-sensitive.

For example, you might expect a post to be approved within 24 or 48 hours after it’s been submitted for publication. This gives your team members a bit of breathing room in terms of their schedule but also ensures that they take action in a timely manner.

Sprout’s publishing calendar provides a birds-eye view of your content calendar (by day, week and month) at any given time. This gives everyone on your social team the ability to understand what’s up for publication and what still needs approval.

social media approval calendar

4. Keep your brand voice consistent with a style guide

The more collaborators you have working on your content workflow, the more important it is to pay attention to your brand voice.

Think about it. As a message moves from one person to the next, that person in the workflow has the opportunity to put their creative “stamp” on it.

You don’t want your brand’s tone to get lost in the process, though. For example, it’d be jarring for a traditional “serious” brand to go all-in on memes out of nowhere.

This speaks to the importance of having a style guide that you can point to. Highlighting your brand’s voice and values, such a document can clue team members as to what your brand is all about. This makes it easier to onboard new members of your social team or third-party collaborators who might not be familiar with your business.

5. Don’t forget about optimization

If you’re going through the effort of creating a social media approval process, you’re obviously concerned about your content’s reach.

And so you can’t forget about optimizing each post based on each network it’s being published to.

Between character limits and audience demographics, posts on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook each have totally different best practices and opportunities for optimization.

Prior to hitting publish, make sure each post is optimized accordingly. For example, Sprout’s hashtag analytics point to popular and relevant tags for your content no matter where it’s being posted.

sprout social hashtag optimization

6. Stick to a publishing and approval schedule

The final piece to your approval workflow is publication. No brainer, right?

But how do you decide when your content gets published? Just like you have a timeline for approval, you should similarly stick to a timeline for publishing and scheduling your content.

This represents a win-win for your team and followers alike. You get into a rhythm and routine of approval as you regularly create and publish content for your customers. Nice, right?

Consistency counts on social media. With Sprout, you can plan out your content based on specific timing or use features like ViralPost to publish when your followers are most engaged.

sprout social scheduling

What are the benefits of building a social media approval process?

Hey, fair question.

Establishing a social media approval process should be a priority for marketers today. That said, doing so does involve an initial investment of your time.

The investment is totally worthwhile in the long-run, though. Here’s a quick rundown of how having a content approval workflow ultimately benefits your business.

Less notification clutter and chaos for marketers

Anything you can do to make your life easier as a marketer is a huge plus.

This means not having to drown in Slack notifications or sift endlessly through back-and-forth email chains to publish social content.

By using a tool like Sprout, all of your social-related communication is front-and-center in one place. This ensures visibility and fewer chances for messages to get overlooked or buried by your spam folder.

An example of how Cases appear in Sprout with the ability to see a customer's conversation and reply internally to align on how to respond.The ability to track your cases, to-dos and approvals means no second-guessing when it comes to “what’s next” with your social campaigns.


Win back valuable time in your schedule

Piggybacking on the point above, working within a single platform for social media approval and publishing is a huge time-saver.

From Facebook to Instagram and beyond, all of your creatives are consolidated. Rather than bounce between each individual network, Sprout allows you to manage all of your social campaigns regardless of where you’re publishing to.

Avoid needless mistakes and damage control

This is a big one.

If you want to avoid going into crisis management mode, you need a social media approval process.

When multiple people on your team have the opportunity to serve as a second set of eyes on your content, you’re more likely to avoid needless mistakes such as:

  • Broken links
  • Insensitive or off-brand Tweets or posts
  • Misinformation
  • Mistimed promotions

All of the above can do damage to your brand reputation and bottom line. With a defined approval process, it’s much easier to catch these mistakes and nip them in the bud.

Accountability for your social media efforts

Businesses rightfully want to hold their social teams accountable for their work.

From justifying your social media budget to highlighting individual contributions to campaigns, tracking your approval process is critical. Managers should be able to understand how marketers collaborate and who’s doing what in terms of their roles.

Tools like Sprout track the social media approval process from Point A to Point B. This includes not only who’s uploading content and moving the workflow along, but also how that content performs after-the-fact.

sprout asset library activity

The point of a social media approval process is to boost your team’s efficiency and ensure that the content you’re creating is right for your customers. Monitoring and assessing your workflow allows you to see how individual members of your team contribute to that effort.

Align your business’ goals

Especially with the rise of remote and distributed teams, collaboration is an expectation for teams today.

Part of working together means establishing goals. With a social media approval process, you can bring outside teams into the fold to provide input and insight to improve your campaigns.

For example, it’s well-documented that alignment between sales and marketing produces better results from both. Rather than silo social off from the rest of your business, consider integrating departments and decision-makers to align your campaigns with your business’ goals.

And with that, we wrap up our guide!

What does your social media approval process look like?

Listen: marketers can’t just “wing it” anymore.

With a defined social media approval workflow, you essentially empower your business to work as a team to produce the best social content possible. Doing so also means avoiding needless mistakes and saving serious time.

The tips above and tools like Sprout are key to making it happen. If you’re interested in what our platform can do to streamline your social marketing efforts, request a demo today and see for yourself!