Short on time? Follow these expert tips that can help social media managers and digital agencies save time and energy in their social media workflow.
Without a workflow, social media management can easily take over your entire day or week. But when you have a simple system to follow, you can tackle social media tasks efficiently—while working steadily toward your goals.
Take a look at my streamlined social media workflow to create a structure that works for you.
When I’m short on time, I’m tempted to think of a quick fix rather than a long-term solution. After all, thinking up a great Instagram post takes a few minutes, while hashing out a complete strategy can take hours, days, or even longer.
But after years of social media management, I know that outlining a strategy is essential—especially when I need to achieve certain results.
When working with social media clients, I typically outline a strategy that covers the next three to six months.
First, I identify major objectives, such as increasing brand awareness for new products or generating sales during a holiday season. To keep the team on track, I set SMART goals like meeting a specific revenue goal or gaining a certain number of followers by a set date.
Then I decide which social media platforms to include in each initiative.
2. Plan a Content Calendar
Next, I translate the strategy into a social media content calendar. By planning an entire month at once, I can be sure to post content at optimal times while keeping up a consistent publishing schedule for each page.
I tend to work backward from my goal dates to make sure I have enough opportunities to reach them. For example, if I have four weeks to increase brand awareness for a new product, I might plan these posts:
- Week 1: “Coming soon” post announcing the product name, basic features, and launch date
- Week 2: A series of posts appealing to target customer groups
- Week 3: A series of posts focusing on major product benefits
- Week 4: “Tag a friend” post encouraging followers to spread the word and increase interest
3. Create Videos, Photos, and Graphics
After developing a social media calendar, it’s easy to know what kind of visual content I need for the next week, month, or quarter.
To save time in my social media workflow process, I write up a list of video, photo, and graphic ideas for each post. Then I create the content in batches.
Videos typically come first, since they take the most time and planning. Start by writing the scripts and organizing the set. (You may want to storyboard as well.) Then plan hair and makeup and record as many videos as possible, with outfit changes in between. (Check out these tips for your making the most of mobile apps for videos or setting up Facebook Live or prerecorded videos.)
Photos generally come next, especially when hiring a photographer. Start by creating a shot list and securing a set. Then shoot all the photos at once, including as many layouts and angles as possible.
Graphics usually come last, particularly if they require photos. Start by designing reusable brand templates. Then drop text, photos, and visual elements into the templates to create graphics efficiently.
After editing the visual parts of my social media posts, I write the captions.
To save time, I do it in batches. That means I copy for the entire month or the whole campaign at once. To stay focused, I keep these rules of thumb in mind:
Every brand I work with has its own unique way of speaking to customers. Some sound friendly and whimsical while others are more supportive and helpful.
Each social media platform has its own strengths and limitations. Some are ideal for short and sweet copy, while others welcome longer captions.
Best practices for using hashtags and emojis are constantly evolving. When used correctly, hashtags and emojis can increase awareness, boost reach, and improve campaign results.
5. Curate Social Media Content
Creating original content is essential for every brand on social media. But I’ve found that sharing other creators’ content can also help me reach my goals. By curating content, I can help my clients join larger conversations that their followers care about. I can also engage followers on relevant topics without promoting my clients’ brands constantly.
When developing my social media calendars, I aim to balance original posts with curated content. To find the right ratio, I keep these best practices for curating content in mind:
- Posts that link to other websites (i.e., not your brand’s site) drive 33% more clicks.
- Post that link to your brand’s website generate over 50% more conversions.
- Top-performing companies link to their own sites in about 40% of their social posts.
6. Upload and Schedule Social Media Posts
Once I’ve created posts for the upcoming time frame, I upload and schedule most of my social media content.
I do have to publish some posts—such as live videos—in real-time. But scheduling the rest in advance helps me streamline my workflow.
- I can batch posts when it’s convenient for me rather than take time out of my day to publish content in real-time.
- I can upload social media content in bulk rather than create posts one at a time.
- I can schedule content for multiple platforms with a single social media tool rather than log in to each individual site.
7. Get Client or Team Approval
Before finalizing my social media content, I get clients or team members to sign off.
Although it’s possible to get approvals over email or chat, I usually add stakeholders to my social media tool instead. Then they can click to approve the post and complete the scheduling process.
I also like using a shared social media calendar to keep clients and team members on the same page. With a shared calendar, everyone can see what’s scheduled and how the content will look when it goes live.
Creating and scheduling social media content takes a lot of time upfront. But that doesn’t mean I have nothing to do until the next planning session. Instead, I make time to monitor social media engagement. At least once a day, I check for messages and respond to comments.
I use a third-party social media tool so I can tackle engagement for all my clients in the same place. That saves me from opening multiple browser windows, signing in and out of accounts, and switching between my laptop and smartphone.
9. Set Aside Time for Social Listening
Customers and followers often tag my clients on social media. But many other important conversations never result in a mention. That’s why social listening is critical. It’s essential for following discussions about my clients’ brands, their niches, and their competitors.
I set aside time for social listening at least a few times a week. I often plan daily social listening sessions during major campaigns or for clients who tend to get a lot of buzz. With a social media management dashboard, I can set up searches to monitor keywords and hashtags. I can also track users who often join these conversations and build relationships.
At least once a month, I pull analytics and prepare reports for my clients. When creating social media reports, I include key data like:
- Followers and account growth
- Brand awareness
- Top-performing posts
- Engagement, including likes, shares, comments, and clicks
I also provide a few takeaways, explain the progress we’ve made, and share ideas for improving our approach. Then I take some time to reflect on areas that need improvement. I keep these notes handy, so I can continue to optimize our strategy in the future.
Making time for all your social media management tasks doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might seem. With a time-saving social media workflow, you can juggle your to-do list effectively while you keep your eyes on the prize.
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