There’s nothing better than the “aha!” moment when you discover an easier way to manage your brand accounts. Even the smallest tweaks to your social media workflow can significantly reduce the time it takes to follow through on a strategy.

That’s because social media management requires agility. Opportunities can come in the blink of an eye, but it isn’t easy to capitalize on them without the right tools and processes in place. Striking gold on social media requires a little bit of luck and a whole lot of preparation.

Let’s look at what’s possible when you streamline your social media management workflows. Review some general tips we like to use and see how Sprout’s tools can help you take our advice a step further. Sprout offers sophisticated, intuitive tools that result in more free time for ideation and execution, so we’ll also include tips on developing your workflows within our platform. Dive in or use the table of contents below to jump to the section you’re most interested in.

What is a social media workflow?

A social media workflow is a systematic process to manage a brand’s social presence and interactions. A standard workflow accounts for planning, creating, publishing, promoting, monitoring and analyzing social media content, as well as responding to questions and feedback across networks.

These processes are more than just checklists. Social media is a fluid space where the only constant is change. Valuable workflows center around adaptability to ensure the consistent and optimal execution of a social media marketing strategy.

Benefits of using a social media management workflow

Using an effective social media workflow comes with a myriad of benefits that can transform your online presence from the inside out. Social teams earn more time by streamlining tasks and automating processes, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here are the top ways businesses benefit from adopting a scalable and more efficient social media workflow:

  • More time for creativity: Switching between multiple profiles and interfaces for native content creation and scheduling can take up the bulk of a workday. Add meetings to the mix and one day’s to-do list quickly spans many. A social media workflow that incorporates centralized profile management and automation frees up time and resources for more creative, high-impact work.
  • More quality control checkpoints: Social media management workflows enable better quality control, especially when they’re backed by AI-driven technology. These measures do more than just mitigate errors and typos—they play a crucial role in risk prevention, brand safety and social media governance.
  • Stronger accountability and collaboration: By assigning specific tasks and deadlines to designated team members, everyone understands their responsibilities and expectations while also eliminating duplicate work. This supports stronger collaboration.
  • Easier onboarding and adaptability: Without the right tools and documentation, the average social media manager’s to-do list can become unmanageable. And it’s only a matter of time before a network change makes all that effort obsolete. These ever-changing, complex processes make scaling and training a team challenging, but a well-crafted workflow adds simplicity and future-proofs your team by making it easier to adapt to rapid changes.
  • Easily manage campaign results: Using a social media workflow makes measuring the results of your campaigns easier by integrating metrics and analytics tools into the process. It ensures alignment with overarching goals by defining key metrics and automating how insights are gathered for data-driven decision making.

Tips for creating a social media workflow: best practices to follow

Social media practitioners use a variety of different workflows. For example, a standard social media workflow could include the following steps:

  • Ideation
  • Content creation and production
  • Copywriting
  • Content editing
  • Approval
  • Scheduling
  • Promoting
  • Community building
  • Analyzing
  • Strategizing

There are other workflows involved within this standard process. For example, a social media content workflow might include using a template, gathering links, images or videos, and then submitting for approval and scheduling. And a social media manager workflow also includes a variety of routines, such as cross-functional alignment and analyzing data quarterly to further iterate their strategy.

By following procedures tailored to your team’s specific needs, you can simplify and organize your processes to maximize the impact of your efforts on social media. Let’s review some best practices when creating a social media workflow.

1. Establish roles and responsibilities

Establishing roles and responsibilities is the first step to creating a productive social media workflow. Outline expectations for each person on your team and discuss who will be responsible for what within the workflow.

Document your process in a standard operating procedure (SOP) so everyone understands the required steps and guidelines. Creating an SOP also helps ensure your social media workflow is simple and easy to follow.

Craft guidelines for collaborating with the external and internal partners your team works with frequently. Outline the deliverables and deadlines for each person and various scenarios for cross-team functions. For example, social media and customer care teams should establish protocols for interactions on social and case management.

2. Consider legal and regulatory compliance

Industries such as finance, healthcare, government and higher education should consider regulatory requirements. As you’re crafting your various workflows, you need to account for best practices within your industry. For example, social media teams in healthcare must follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

You should also consider governance based on your region. For instance, brands and agencies that collaborate with creators and influencers in the United Kingdom must disclose when social media content is used as advertising by using labels like #Ad. This is one of the guidelines outlined by the Advertising Standards Authority, the UK’s media advertising regulator.

Consult with legal counsel to help ensure you’re maintaining compliance within your industry and local and federal ordinances.

3. Plan ahead with a content calendar

Use a centralized content calendar to plan, track and manage posts throughout the month. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet, a calendar tool like Notion or Google Calendar or you can use social media management software like Sprout.

Planning out topics, publishing dates and approval timelines through a content calendar adds a layer of quality assurance and industry compliance, along with saving time. It supports strategic planning and a consistent posting cadence, while also maintaining adaptability.

A calendar also helps organize content, especially for reporting. For example, you can use tags to establish taxonomies and organize the different types of content your team produces to analyze which post resonates with your audience the most.

There are several benefits of tagging on social media, like tracking trends in engagement and seeing the impact of specific campaigns. You can also use it to scale customer responsiveness by identifying common questions for your customer care team. And with Tagging in Sprout, you can track campaign UTMs and performance—all within your content calendar. This is why we recommend social teams use a tagging strategy when planning their full content calendar.

4. Leverage artificial intelligence and automation

Embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, not only saves time and effort, but these technologies can enhance reporting accuracy and scalability. Teams can automate repetitive tasks like scheduling posts, responding to customer inquiries or collecting performance data. There are a variety of ways to use AI in marketing but some common use cases include social media listening, sentiment analysis and content generation.

For example, your social team could use AI prompts in a generative tool like ChatGPT to develop personalized content based on buyer personas. In Sprout, you can use AI Assist to help spark draft ideas for social media copy. Using AI and automation frees up time for your teams to focus on what they do best: strategic planning and creative initiatives.

5. Iterate your workflows as needed

Social media constantly evolves and so will your internal processes. Maintain flexibility and adapt your workflows as your business scales and your team navigates changes. As new social platforms emerge, legacy networks evolve and your team grows, your workflows will need updated.

Types of social media workflows in Sprout

At Sprout, our customers are our north star. That’s led to some pretty cool features designed to integrate social across a business. Here are a few fan-favorite social media workflows our customers use every day:

Scheduling and publishing workflow

The old way: Manually logging in and out of native platforms to publish social posts, minimizing visibility across teams.

The Sprout way: Use AI and automation to schedule posts across multiple channels at once using a centralized content calendar.

Preview of Sprout's scheduling and publishing workflow. An overlay for Optimal Send Times™ is shown.

Sprout’s social media content workflows are flexible and easy to use. It centralizes once disjointed publishing workflows into a single location, equipped with AI and automation tools that provide real-time insights into optimization opportunities.

There’s a ton you can do in Sprout, but here are a few of our favorite social media workflow enhancements for publishing and scheduling:

  • Use Sprout’s Optimal Send Times to take the guesswork out of posting at the best time for engagement and impressions.
  • Use AI Assist to improve your content quality with suggested copy and tone edits, powered by OpenAI.
  • Always on the hunt for third-party content to build out your social calendar? The Sprout Social Google Chrome Extension takes the Compose window with you as you browse for relevant articles to share. This is especially useful for brands that rely on industry-specific news to boost thought leadership.
  • Waiting for details before drafting and scheduling a post? Use Calendar Notes to let your team know you have the task on your radar and that you’re waiting for next steps.

Content approval workflow

The old way: Tagging stakeholders in a shared document or spreadsheet for content reviews and moving things over to email if they require further discussion.

The Sprout way: An in-app content approval process that can be tailored by need, department or client—depending on your business structure.

A content approval workflow in Sprout Social, showing a scheduled post marked as “Needs Approval” with an internal comment requesting a revision and a response confirming the revision has been made.

Sprout’s approval workflow makes it easy to share content with external and internal stakeholders.

I’d estimate that Sprout’s Message Approval Workflow is single-handedly responsible for preventing millions of lengthy email threads and shared document requests. This tool creates a shared space for feedback by enabling teams to create multi-step, multi-user workflows that meet the needs of their specific organization.

Here’s what it looks like in action, depending on your role:

  • Director of Social Media: Tailored notification settings help you review content in a way that works with your schedule. Choose between hourly or daily approval request notifications to keep your day running smoothly.
  • Legal Compliance Specialist: Let your social team set you up with External Approver access so you can review sensitive content for legal risk.
  • Account Manager: Strengthen agency-client relationships by setting up a customized approval workflow for each of your individual accounts.

A post from Sprout on X (formerly known as Twitter) about external approval workflows.

Reporting workflow

The old way: Hours spent pulling metrics from native analytics solutions, making sense of them in a spreadsheet and creating data visualizations manually to explain your team’s impact across the business.

The Sprout way: Presentation-ready reports that directly tie social activity to business objectives. Sprout’s social media automation tools make quick work out of cumbersome reporting tasks by combining templated reports with user-friendly customization options.

A data visualization graph from the Tag Performance Report in Sprout Social, comparing impressions between posts tagged “Fall Campaign”, “Summer Sales” and “#LatteArt”.

Of all our reporting features, Tagging has the most potential to revolutionize your workflows. Sprout Tags enable our customers to group inbound and outbound messages for more flexible reporting on content, creative and campaigns. Use Tags to automate data collection processes and say goodbye to cherry-picking specific post-level metrics for strategic insights.

Tagging is available to all Sprout customers, but for Advanced Plan users, it’s one of many automated reporting tools that include:

  • Automated Rules: Automatically Tag inbound and outbound messages that include specific keywords or hashtags to ensure every post is recorded and reported on.
  • Scheduled Reports: Schedule weekly or monthly PDF reports to keep stakeholders informed on campaign progress.
  • My Reports: Create custom reports with metrics that matter most to your executives, with text widgets that provide the context needed to capture social’s impact.*
  • Link Sharing: Share real-time, interactive report links that provide all the necessary context and data visualizations needed to increase transparency with external stakeholders. Our social media metrics dashboards offer integrations with Tableau enabling teams to incorporate data with other business intelligence for a comprehensive view of the customer journey.

*These features are available with the Sprout Social Premium Analytics add-on.

Engagement workflow

The old way: Checking all your social inboxes first thing in the morning and at the top of every work hour to respond to messages in a timely manner. Manually responding to inquiries and sharing individual messages to your customer care teams.

The Sprout way: Centralizing inbound messages in a single stream, while automating the message prioritization process, off-hours support and FAQs assistance. Stay on top of your inbox and maintain proper escalation tactics with Sprout’s Case Management solution.

The Smart Inbox in Sprout Social with filters set to display inbound messages from X (formerly known as Twitter), Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Collision detection settings are on, so you can see that two colleagues are in the process of responding to a message.

The Smart Inbox is the key to unlocking relationship-building experiences on social. This tool tightens your social media workflow by unifying all your brand accounts across social networks to monitor incoming messages in one manageable location. From there, you can triage response needs, assign cases and work with your team to create a more customer-centric social media presence.

Brands managing a high volume of inbound messages can also benefit from the following Sprout tools:

  • Bot Builder (Advanced Plan): Use social chatbots designed on rule-based logic to assure customers seeking support on nights and weekends that you’ll be back online and ready to help shortly.
  • Case Management: Strengthen your social customer care efforts with automatic Case Assignments from team queues based on agent availability and capacity. You can also route cases to team members based on keywords and sentiment changes.
  • Integrations: Sprout offers social media management integrations with leading CRMs like Salesforce. Use these connections to provide more tailored support to key accounts and prospects.
  • Social Listening: Countless potential conversations are happening around your brand and industry every day. Use AI-powered tools like Sprout Social Listening to keep tabs on the market insights that can drive your business forward.

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Other social media workflow tools

We recommend using a social media management software like Sprout to set up the best social media workflows for your business. But, if you’re not ready to invest in a robust tool, here’s a quick overview of three project management tools you can use to help facilitate your social media workflow:

Google Sheets

Google Sheets is a spreadsheet tool teams can use throughout a social media management workflow. For example, use Google Sheets to create content calendars, track performance metrics and collaborate with team members in real-time. We even created a social media calendar template you can use. This template will help you create customizable categories like event promotions and product launches while ensuring all content is aligned to a specific key performance indicator (KPI).


Smartsheet is another spreadsheet tool you can use throughout your social media workflow. The platform allows you to automate workflows and notifications to streamline your communication and ensure seamless collaboration. They offer a variety of social media management templates. is a project management software and another organizational tool to use within your social media workflow. Marketing teams can use for content calendars, asset management, content creation and campaign management. You can use a template or start your project from scratch.

Automate your workflow with Sprout

Social media is fast paced and always on. It’s where brand-making conversations take place and consumer sentiments are forged. If you want to keep up, you need the right toolkit.

Sprout’s centralized social management platform provides powerful data, flexible tools and an easy-to-use user experience that helps you harness social data. Learn how to simplify your processes and see the full potential of using social media workflows in a unified platform by signing up for a Sprout demo today.