Social media marketers are tasked with the huge challenge of keeping up with the algorithm and constantly adjusting to new features and updates. You can’t just hire a recent college graduate with no experience and expect to be the next viral TikTok account.
The process is complex and requires a thoughtful balance between planning and risk-taking. From curation to copy and design, the end-to-end process can quickly become a convoluted process.
Tweets are not responded to in a timely manner, content is published without proofreading or approval, and potential leads are left confused and frustrated. Mistakes and inefficiencies are expensive, especially for small teams that are already running at max capacity.
The common theme? There’s just not enough time.
Creating a great social media workflow is a worthy investment to minimize errors, create content in a consistent and timely manner, and reduce unnecessary expenses.
With the help of this guide, you’ll be able to know exactly what a social media workflow is, why it will be beneficial for your team to design one, and how you can implement it today.
What’s a social media workflow anyways?
A social media workflow is a system to efficiently ideate, create, distribute, and measure social media content.
Think about your current social media process. Are team members confused about deadlines and scrambling to create and publish content hours before the scheduled time?
With an optimized social media workflow, everyone in your team will know exactly what they are supposed to do, who they’re supposed to reach out to for certain tasks, and when their work is due. Your team members will be able to work efficiently and quickly with each other and eliminate obstacles easily.
The 10 components of a social media workflow
A well-oiled social media workflow will have ten stages. Typical workflows include most, if not all, of these components, however you can improvise or mix-and-match them as needed:
- Brainstorm creative ideas by understanding your audience: know who and what to address
- Write kickass copy: write content that sticks
- Proofread meticulously: ensure content is error-free
- Always provide team visibility: get sign-off from necessary stakeholders
- Plan effectively: automate posting for the future
- Promote, promote, promote: generate more buzz
- Build a community: create meaningful connections and conversations
- Measure, learn, and improve:: interpret the data, asses performance, and use learnings for future posts
It’s worth noting that while there is a general template for building social media workflows, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all template that works for everyone. Use this as a general framework to create a process that works for your unique needs.
Step 1: Harbor creative ideas by understanding your audience
Creativity is everything in a world of lots of sameness. The best way to create impactful content is having a deep understanding of your audience - their passions, their aspirations, and their pain points.
Conduct a social media audit
Begin by understanding your themes, messaging, and target audience. Dig deep into your niche and identify what are the most burning questions about your core audience such as:
- What other social media accounts are they following?
- What are their demographics?
- What is relevant to them right now?
- What are the most burning questions we can answer?
- What makes them angry?
- What makes them laugh?
- What do they engage the most with?
- What values do they hold? How can we encourage or challenge them?
Run your own surveys
To take things a step further, send a brief survey to your audience. It can be as simple as sending a Google Form to your email list. Incentivize your audience to fill out the survey by explaining how this will improve your content. Experiment with raffles and paid incentives as well if possible.
Call your customers
Nothing beats picking up the phone and calling your customers. You’ll gather a ton of insights from both your best and worst customers by having a candid conversation about what they’re going through. Alternatively, you can use software like Gong or Wingman to record sales calls and automatically identify common themes amongst them.
Read through Quora, Reddit, and Facebook groups
Create a list of Quora questions, reddit communities, and Facebook groups and actively look through them. Identify the common themes that drive the most engagement to inspire your next social media posts. Take it a step further by engaging in these conversations yourself. Nothing beats being an industry expert in these groups!
Create a buyer persona
Now that you’ve gathered your research, put it all together by creating a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on the research you’ve conducted. This will help you stay focused on addressing the real needs of your audience. Here’s what you should include according to Hubspot:
- What is your job role? Your title?
- How is your job measured?
- What does a typical day look like?
- What skills are required to do your job?
- What knowledge and tools do you use in your job?
- Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
- In which industry or industries does your company work?
- What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?
- What are you responsible for?
- What does it mean to be successful in your role? Objectives
- What are your biggest challenges?
- How do you learn about new information for your job?
- What publications or blogs do you read?
- What associations and social networks do you participate in?
- Describe your personal demographics (if appropriate, ask their age, whether they're married, if they have children).
- Describe your educational background. What level of education did you complete, which schools did you attend, and what did you study?
- Describe your career path. How did you end up where you are today?
Finalize your business case
Last but not least, it’s integral that you tie everything back to your business case. Even if you make the craziest meme accounts, it will all mean nothing if it doesn’t make any material impact on your business.
Write down what your biggest problem that you’re trying to solve and ensure your social strategy is aligned. For example, if you are a content marketing agency, your problem will be “helping companies create high-value content that stands out above the rest in quality and design.”
Step 2: Write kickass copy
Now that you’ve gathered your themes, let’s talk about how to deliver your message effectively. Eugene Schwartz one said, “creativity is really connectivity. You can’t create anything out of nothing. You only iterate on something that already exists.”
Want to write better copy? Listening to David Ogilvy is a great place to start.
How to write effective copy: the David Ogilvy Way
David Ogilvy, the "Father of Advertising," is credited with building an agency empire with his knack for copywriting. Here are some timeless takeaways from his book, Ogilvy on Advertising.
- Do your research: understand what motivates and scares your customers the most
- Focus on one big idea: focus on on message and one call to action
- Communication is about clarity: present your value and don’t get carried away by grammatical rules
- Respect your customer: the consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife
- Be interesting: give your customers a compelling reason to care
- Measure in sales, not creativity: don’t be precious with the creatives, just double down on what works
Pro tip: Use AI to help you uplevel your writing
If they’re having trouble finding the right words to use or want to find a way to write effectively, you can help them by using a tool like Wordtune to leverage AI to rewrite and uplevel your writing. If your copywriters ever feel like they’re being repetitive, or if they want some suggestions to restructure their sentences, Wordtune can assist them with editing, rephrasing, and redrafting in seconds.
Step 3: Proofread meticulously
Editing is arguably one of the most important steps in the social media creation process. You’re not only skimming for broken links or a missing comma, but making sure your message is being communicated in the most effective way possible.
When your copywriters are done with their first draft, get a fresh pair of eyes to look it over for any typos. Writers can get blind to their own mistakes if they become too familiarized with what they’ve written.
Here are a few tips that we’ve gathered to help you become a better editor.
- Look at the overall picture. Skim the entire piece and look at the layout, the sections, and the main ideas. Then ask: does this fit in with our content strategy?
- Edit themes before grammar. Make sure your piece is factual, unique, and provides enough value to your readers. Once you feel the piece flows well, you can worry about the grammatical and punctuation changes before publishing.
- Be positive. Writers can get personal when hit with pages full of comments. Your job is to elevate their writing, so back up your comments with suggestions on how to improve.
- Read it out loud. Reading a piece out loud is an effective way to see how a piece flows. You may also catch a few errors or two!
Common copy mistakes to check for
- Attribute: Give name, titles, and links to any claims to build trust and credibility
- Between / Among: between involves two parties; among involves three or more
- Active voice: be confident and avoid passive language
- Concrete: explain why a statement was made with substantive support
- Brevity: is the message clear and concise?
- Jargon: avoid words that may be confusing or obscure
- Numbers: do the numbers add up? Are the facts accurate?
- Redundancies: true facts. Evolve over time. Basic fundamentals. Past history. Remove them all!
Step 4: Always provide team visibility
Social media marketing never works in a silo. In most cases, you work on a marketing team - or every piece has to go through the CEO. No matter the structure, it’s imperative that the necessary stakeholders have the visibility and authority to approve anything that goes live.
Increasing visibility helps avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen and will reduce the times you’ll have to make last-minute changes.
How to create visibility within your organization
- Appoint champion to manage approval workflow process
- Identify key stages where approval is needed and who is approving each step
- Agree on the most effective communication channel. Is it Slack? Teams? Email? Communicate this process with all key stakeholders
- Present your projects to your wider organization as much as you can! Let other teams know what you’re working on and why it’s an exciting opportunity.
- This may lead to getting new ideas from outside team members. Encourage employees to contribute their ideas regularly
- Provide credit where credit is due! If someone contributes an idea that performs well, be sure to acknowledge their contribution.
Step 5: Plan effectively
A successful social operation is one that plans for the future while leaving space for serendipity. To achieve this, you need to think about your team’s strengths, your production capacity, budget, and content calendar.
Don’t plan for more than three months ahead
No matter how established your marketing team is, you never know what’s going to happen in three months from now. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, no one can predict what the world will look like three months from now. Your content strategy is living and breathing, and planning too far ahead won’t give you the wiggle room you need to pivot when you need to.
How often should you publish?
Some blogs may make claims that the best time to publish is at 6:45 AM on a Thursday, but with the algorithm now surfacing content at different times of day, the best way to measure this is by posting as you can consistently post quality content.
On the flipside, setting a certain number of posts per week can help you create a benchmark of how much content to produce. Here’s what Hootsuite recommends:
- On Instagram, post between 3-7 times per week.
- On Facebook, post between 1 and 2 times a day.
- On Twitter, post between 1 and 5 Tweets a day.
- On LinkedIn, post between 1 and 5 times a day.
Remember, this may not work for everyone. Focus on producing high-quality content and always be testing!
Create a social calendar
Yes - sometimes the best ideas come in a moment’s notice. But relying on random moments of brilliance isn't sustainable. It’s more efficient to plan ahead. A social media calendar is a tool that will help organize all upcoming social media posts. You can start by using a spreadsheet, dedicated software, or Google calendar.
Consider what information and functionality are most important to you when creating your social calendar. Here are few details you may want to include:
- Channel (Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, etc)
- Links (with UTM parameters)
- Paid or organic
- Approval status
Step 6: Promote, promote, promote
While content is king, distribution is queen. Publishing on your social media profiles consistently may help you garner some attention, but what if you don’t have a strong following count? You may have to look for opportunities that will help you gain awareness.
No matter how good your content is, you can’t publish and hope people will come to you in droves. It’s integral that you get as much exposure as you can to exponentially increase your chances to go viral.
Once you’ve made a really great piece of content, here are a few creative ways you can improve your social distribution:
- Tag influencers when quoting or mentioning them
- Use high-visibility hashtags
- Work with influencers or partners to co-promote or co-publish a post
- Do a live Q&A session with multiple influencers about a relevant topic
- Share threads on forums and niche communities
- Boost high performing posts with paid ads
Repurpose your content: the Gary Vee way
Love him or hate him, you’ve probably heard of Gary Vaynerchuk. While he may be infamous for popularizing the term hustle, Gary Vee has truly figured out how to produce content at scale. He uses the content pyramid method to utilize one piece of pillar content and repurpose it into multiple channels.
At the very top is his pillar content. This is long-form, high-quality content including his interviews and keynotes.
His team then takes clips to create short-form videos, stories, and micro content on every social media platform imaginable. After he’s distributed it, they listen to their audience to see which piece resonated with them the most by combing through comments and looking at micro content performance.
He redistributes all his best performing pieces again across all his social channels. He then applies the learnings to create more micro content with the same themes and ideas that performed well.
Step 7: Build a community
A community is one of the most valuable assets to social media marketers. You’ll be able to reach more people, make a more significant impact, and drive real conversations with people in your niche.
Create zero-click content
A great place to start is adopting the mindset of creating zero-click content. Amanda Natividad describes it as creating content without asking for a click by delivering the value up-front and respecting your audience’s time.
Whether it’s a Twitter-thread, a 60-second TikTok, or a 200-word Linkedin post, consistently providing high-quality content will earn you followers. It’s playing the long-game to establish your authority, build good-will, and eventually convert.
People follow people, not brands
People follow leaders, not a faceless brand. That’s why Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Richard Branson have been respectful successful entrepreneurs. In the same vein, think about how you are involved in the community you are trying to build. Does your CEO write inspiring thought-leadership on Linkedin? Can your team members drive conversations in Twitter Q&A’s? There’s nothing more valuable than building real, tangible human-to-human relationships.
Step 10: Measure, learn, and improve
A successful social media strategy is a scientific one. You run a bunch of experiments, see what sticks, and double down on your successes.
This starts by analyzing your results to see which of your content actually helps you achieve your goals. Most social media platforms are all equipped with analytics capabilities which allow you to track the performance of your posts. You will be able to identify top performers and low performers in order to allocate your budget accordingly.
Social media KPI’s you should know
Here are some of the most important social media KPI’s you should look at:
- Impressions: how many times your post appeared in a feed
- Follower count: how many people subscribed to your content
- Likes: how many times your post was liked
- Comments: how many times a comment was made
- Shares: how many times a post was shared
- Click Through Rate (CTR): how many people saw your post and clicked. This is calculated by dividing total clicks by total impressions multiplied by 100.
- Conversion Rate (CVR): how many people took action after clicking. This is calculated by dividing conversions by total clicks multiplied by 100.
- Cost per click (CPC): the dollar amount you pay for one click on a paid post. This is calculated by dividing total ad spend by total measured clicks and multiplying it by 1000.
- Bounce rate: Percentage of visitors who clicked a link and quickly left the page without taking any action.
Start creating content that matters
Now that you’re equipped with all the knowledge and tools you need to start building out your social strategy, it’s time for you to get started.
The more you invest in this planning phase, the more money, energy, and resources you’ll save in the long run. You’ll be creating impactful content rather than fixing communication and logistical issues. Consider improving your workflow by using shared spreadsheets, or invest in professional tools that will allow you to manage projects seamlessly.