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10 Steps for Creating an Effective Social Media Workflow

May 27, 2021

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It's Tuesday morning and the tank is empty: nothing on your social media content calendar, nothing in your ideas folder, not even a good screenshot from your overcrowded desktop.

You’re stressed – understandably. It’s not easy to be creative on the spot. 

You quickly type something up and fire it off. But you don’t have time to consider how the post will contribute to your long-term goals. 

Are you sharing the right content at the right time? Is it optimized for engagement on each channel? Will you recognize a good outcome when you see it and be able to report on it? Would you be able to repeat what you did tomorrow?

Or will you be so busy tomorrow that putting out a post falls through the cracks all together?

The long and short of it is: haphazard posting does not work in the long game. It’s a waste of time and resources. 

Generating awareness for your brand and creating an engaged audience of loyal fans is no easy feat – having to tap your creativity on a daily basis might make it feel impossible. 

But a solid social media workflow will not only give you a calendar of great ideas, it will give you a streamlined process and framework to carry you through the days when your creative juices just aren’t flowing. 

What is a social media workflow? 

A social media workflow is a reliable, consistent process for publishing posts to social media. 

From conception of an idea, to gathering and repurposing content, to engaging with your audience, to analyzing and generating reports – your workflow accounts for all of it. 

With a busy schedule, social media is often the first thing to fall through the cracks. That’s why you need a proper strategy in place that prioritizes each activity and keeps you consistent. It will take you out of reactive mode and give you the freedom to think creatively about what’s next. 

How to create a social media workflow 

You know better than anyone that keeping up with social media is a full-time job, and left to its own devices can get overwhelming quickly. If you’re currently managing social media haphazardly, this workflow will quite frankly save your life. 

If you already have one in place, use these strategies to test against your own, improve, adapt, and add to your own processes for continued growth! Let’s get into it. 

1. Acknowledge your audience 

Before you jump head first into creating content, know who you’re creating it for. 

Knowing your audience will help you determine which channels to focus your efforts on. It will influence your brand’s voice and enable you to craft a purposeful message that truly resonates. 

Here’s how to understand your target audience and meet them where they’re at.

Identify your ideal customer persona (ICP)

If your business hasn’t already determined this for you, answers questions like: 

  • Who are your customers? 
  • What jobs do they have? 
  • What are their pain points? 
  • Where are they located? 
  • What are their interests?
  • How do they spend their time?

Get as specific as you can with your answers. 

Determine which platforms your audience loves

Now that you’ve identified your ICP, you’re better equipped to reach them on their platform of choice. Each platform presents its own unique audiences, and there’s many factors to consider.

If you’re in B2B, chances are that you will see the most reward for your efforts on LinkedIn and Twitter. After all, “LinkedIn is the leading social media channel for B2B marketers with Twitter trailing as a close second.”

While Instagram is known for appealing to younger audiences, it can still be a fantastic way to reach folks (especially in their downtime). 

People think of brands holistically, not per channel. That’s why many brands are pushing to become omnichannel and increase their overall visibility and awareness

When your buyers are ready to purchase, you want to be top-of-mind. 

Observe other brands and influencers in your space 

One of the best ways you can understand your audience and what they want is to observe others in your space who already have their attention. Follow these brands and influencers and take a page out of their book. What’s working for them and what isn’t?

Take it step further by thoughtfully interacting with their posts and following the people in their network. This will associate you with the audience that you’re trying to attract. Over time, your thoughtful engagement paired with your own content publishing will position you as an expert in the space.  

Talk to your customers

If you’re still seeking to understand more about your audience, just ask them! Consider sending a survey to your customers and asking them your questions directly. 

2. Establish your goals and guidelines

Now that you understand who your audience is, it’s time to establish your goals and guidelines. Having these clearly defined ensures that you deliver high quality content with a consistent voice that achieves your business’ goals. 

Start with your social media “mission statement”

Your content needs a clear purpose. That purpose needs to have direct ties to your business’s mission and values, so that your social media presence is an accurate representation of them.  

Your social media mission statement could be a sentence that looks like this: “Our social media mission is to provide world-class content, freely and accessibly, to marketing professionals everywhere, equipping them and their teams for success.”

Flesh out how your social media presence lives out the mission statement 

What are the attributes of your social presence that matter most to you?

Look to your mission and values to determine this list. Is your brand very inspirational, or is it more actionable and tactical? Is your audience buttoned-up, or casual and laid back? 

Your list might look something like this:

  • A community: fostering learning and discussion through excellent content
  • Authentic and transparent: including and engaging the audience everywhere possible
  • Personable and human: encouraging frequent and consistent 1 to 1 interaction 
  • Valuable: creating immediate, applicable benefit to our viewers
  • Inclusive: we include our subscribers in our content, and we always try to represent people of all genders, races, ethnicities, religions, beliefs, sexual orientations, etc.

Document your guidelines and best practices 

Now that you have the big picture vision for your social media presence, it’s time to land on your guidelines and best practices. 

This will be your north star for quality. 

Even if multiple people were contributing content to your social media channels, it should be immediately recognizable as your unique brand. In this document, include your brand’s tone of voice, branding requirements, and non-negotiables. 

Get as specific as you can. You might include things like templates, brand colors, and logos. You may even include your strategy for how you create posts:

  • Sell the problem, then solve it. 
    • Frame a marketing-related question, and provide an answer from one of our many media formats
    • Make a provocative statement that poses a problem or challenges conventional wisdom.
  • Ditch the promotional lingo. 
    • Meet people exactly where they are and keep ‘asks’ to a minimum. 
    • Share content freely and accessibly. When people are on one of our social channels, they should have to go no further to benefit from excellent content. (Keep ‘follow this link’ asks to a minimum).
  • Make it engaging, interactive, and actionable.
    • Include a prompt. Tell people exactly what to do at the end of the post. Example: End with a question, “What are your best tips and tricks to…?”
    • Utilize engagement features like polls, multiple choice questions, etc
    • Make it actionable with tips that people can apply to their jobs immediately

Tip: Include examples from influencers and brands you admire who have successfully implemented the items on your list. Include links!

Determine your metric goals 

What does success look like on your social channels?

Get specific with your numbers. Give yourself goals that feel just out of grasp so that you have something to stretch for, but not so unrealistic that it feels completely impossible to reach.

Start by having a good understanding of your current numbers. If you have 3% monthly engagement now, you may want to double that monthly engagement by the end of the year.

You can create goals for multiple factors, some examples include:

  • Followers
  • Engagement
  • Diversity 
  • Volume of posts

When determining your metric goals, one of the most important things to keep in mind is how you’re going to achieve them. The best goal documents or presentations include a list of very tactical strategies on how you plan to achieve the goals you set.

3. Decide what you want to publish

You’ve got a social media mission, vision, target audience, and a set of goals and guidelines. Now: what to post?! 

Always be on the lookout for great ideas 

Inspiration is all around. From billboards and advertisements, to trending hashtags and memes on Twitter, you can source ideas from anywhere.

Follow other successful influencers and brands (especially those outside of your industry). When you come across something great, ask yourself how can this be adapted for my niche or audience? You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. 

The most important part of this process is to save the great ideas that you find. 

Create a designated space for your ideas. Many marketers refer to this as their “Swipe File”. Inspiration doesn’t have to be as uncommon as a lightning strike, you can make it a more repeatable process by creating a large pool of the best ideas for when you’re in a creative rut.

Here are a few resources that will help you stay organized:

Let your audience tell you what content to create

When in doubt, just ask!

Camille Trent, Managing Editor at Marketer Hire, looks to her audience to determine the best topics for pillar content, then chops it down later for social:

“We'll look at Ahrefs, Google Analytics, Google SERP, live webinar questions from guests, and social to see what questions our target market is asking. Then, we put a lot of time into creating the best resource (pillar content) on that topic. From there, we pull charts and simplified lists from the pillar blog (and video clips from the webinars) to repurpose for social.

A great piece of pillar content with a clear point will inspire all sorts of social content. That's one way we know ahead of time that a pillar piece is good – it has legs and works across channels. That doesn't happen when you design content for the channel and not the audience.”

4. Create a social media calendar with scheduled publication dates  

Once you’ve got a slew of ideas and solid pillar content in your arsenal, you can begin to map out your social media calendar and strategy for distribution.

Decide on a posting cadence

Consistency is key here. To grow and maintain a following that trusts you, you have to be their reliable source of content on a given topic. 

When landing on a posting cadence for your channels, keep three things in mind:

  • Your goals for social media 
  • You and your team’s bandwidth 
  • The channel and its algorithm

No matter the frequency that you choose, it’s important to stick with it. Then you can test what works, adapt and adjust as needed. Let’s talk about how to make your new posting cadence sustainable. 

Plan your social content calendar a month in advance 

Planning your content a month in advance will keep you strategic. You’ll be able to create themes or series, diversify your topics, and see how it all fits together:

content calendar

Keep calm and stay nimble

While planning ahead will help you think strategically about the content you release and keep your sanity intact, you should leave enough room to move fast when it matters. 

Don’t be so tightly bound to your plan that you can’t jump on the latest trend. Oftentimes, the best engagement comes when your content is highly relatable and relevant to what’s happening in the world and around the internet at the moment. 

IYKYK:

bernie meme

5. Decide which content types you and your team will create 

Like Camille mentioned earlier, great social posts begin with excellent pillar content.  

Here’s how your pillar content breaks down into social posts. GaryVee talks about a reverse pyramid in his 2019 content strategy. This is an adaptation of the strategy he recommends:

reverse pyramid

At the top of the pyramid, you have your “pillar” content. It’s the long form stuff: articles, webinars, podcasts, infographics, you name it. Each piece can be broken down into many mico pieces of content. 

Let’s dig into some examples of longform content and how it can be repurposed for social.

Blog posts 

The average blog post is over 1,000 words. That’s a lot of words that can be used in a lot of different ways. Here’s a few ways to get started repurposing them:

  • Quotes. Pull out eye-catching statements, unconventional wisdom, and highly educational bits (think stats, new findings, etc). 
  • Lists. They’re easy to consume and pleasing to the eye. Try condensing a few points from the article down to an actionable 1-2-3 list that readers can take with them. These work especially well as a Twitter thread. 
  • Images. Turn all of the above into an image or graphic, using a tool like Canva. Create multiple to use as an Instagram carousel or LinkedIn Slides. 
  • Videos. They capture people’s attention and often keep them engaged longer than plain text. Why not use parts of your article as a script for video?

Videos 

Events, training sessions, webinars, podcasts, and other longform videos can be broken down and optimized for different social channels. Each platform varies and optimization looks different for each. 

YouTube typically has the longest videos of all the social platforms, with seven to 15 minute videos performing best. IGTV supports 10 minute videos, while viewers on LinkedIn will only hang around for one to three minutes. Perhaps the shortest of all are Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. You’ll want to keep those videos under a minute. 

video length for social

When repurposing video, it’s often easiest to start with the longest takeaway and then break it down to the shortest. Remember to start with a strong hook that grabs people’s attention in the first few seconds, and make every second count by tightening it up and removing dead space.

Infographics

Infographics are chock full of helpful information that can be shared in numerous ways. 

You can turn the infographic into a series of images to share as LinkedIn Slides or an Instagram carousel. You can also treat each section of the infographic as its own nugget to be shared individually. But don’t limit yourself to images. Infographics often contain many takeaways, stats, and quotes that can be used as text posts on any channel.

6. Write down your social media copy for your posts 

Writing copy for your social posts is the fun part. But where to start?

Begin writing the longer social posts first (think LinkedIn). Then condense that copy down for shorter posts (think Twitter). Tackling the longer posts first will get your creative juices flowing and give you more to work with when it comes to the shorter posts.

Here’s a few best practices for catching people’s attention and drumming up engagement.

Start with a hook. This is a statement or question that immediately grabs people’s attention. Each line should intrigue your reader to continue on to the next line, and the first is of utmost importance. 

What is unique about what you have to say? 

Start with something that will surprise, inform, or make people think. You may find that a line near the bottom of your post actually belongs at the top as your headline. You can also consider starting with a thoughtful question, story, or analogy. 

Sell the problem. Show your audience that you can relate with them. People will be more invested in what you have to say because they feel that you understand them. Secondly, people only care about solutions if they are aware of a problem. Without a problem, there is no need for a solution. 

Present the solution. Solutions come in a variety of forms. Maybe you’ll share how to do something differently, or share a new idea or way of thinking. Show them how it solves their pain point.

End with a prompt. Call your readers to action. What do you want them to do immediately after reading your post? If you want them to jump into the comments and share their thoughts, consider asking a thoughtful question at the end of your post. 

social media content

7. Upload and schedule your social media posts 

Once you’ve written the copy for your posts, it’s time to get them scheduled! Scheduling your posts through a scheduling tool will save you lots of time and hassle. No more uploading each post to each platform manually. 

There are many scheduling tools that you can use to do the job. Here’s a few that you should have on your radar:

Hootsuite is one of the most popular social media scheduling and analytics tools. It starts at $49/month, and has a variety of plans for small teams all the way up to enterprise. It has a straightforward interface with advanced analytics tracking included, and you can view social streams directly within the app to keep an eye on conversations, trends, and brand mentions. 

Hootsuite supports LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, and WordPress.

Buffer is a simple-to-use scheduling tool that includes analytics (at a cost). The Pro plan starts at only $15/month, and it’s $35 more for Pro analytics. There’s something called ‘Buffer Queue’ that allows you to schedule posts in the order and time frame you’d like them to go live (as opposed to Hoosuite’s AutoScheduler that chooses times for you). Buffer also has a handy Chrome extension that allows you to post to your social channels from anywhere.

Buffer supports LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest (on pro and business plans).

Later is a user-friendly and visually appealing scheduling tool. It has a free plan for individuals, and their first Starter plan is only $12.50. It’s known for its visual Instagram planner, and it even schedules Instagram Stories. Anything that you could hope to do with Instagram, like searching hashtags, @ mentions, tags, and scheduling carousels (you’ll get notified when it’s time to post), you can likely do it through Later. 

Later supports Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. 

SproutSocial has a lot of unique features to offer such as managing reviews, profile/keyword/location monitoring, and a mobile app. It starts at $99/month. But there’s even more interesting features like an in-platform content library, saved and suggested replies, and link tracking when you upgrade to more advanced plans. 

SproutSocial supports LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.

HeyOrca is a fantastic option for agencies. You can manage all of your clients in one dashboard. It starts at $99/month, and each individual calendar is $49/month. It has a robust calendar view, similar to a Google Calendar, that you can share with your clients. Each client calendar has its own media library with unlimited storage.

HeyOrca supports LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google My Business.

8. Respond to readers’ questions and comments 

Now that your posts are out in the ether, it’s time to build that true sense of community. Readers will keep coming back for more if you engage with them in a meaningful way. Nothing beats a personalized response from an influencer or brand you love. 

Here’s a few tips to keep them coming back:

Create value at each interaction. “Thanks for commenting” will get old quick. Try to add something of value to the conversation, or make them feel understood by recapping what they said.

Encourage more discussion. One of the best ways you can keep the conversation going is to end with a question. Inquire further about their comment, you may be surprised at how much more will discussion ensue! 

Make connections. Know someone who could answer a comment or question better than you? Let them know that you know just the person who can help! Consider tagging other folks into the conversation.

Stay consistent. It’s a cycle of trust: The more you engage with comments and questions, the more people will bring them to you. Prove to your audience that you’re a reliable source to get help and answers. In return, you’ll attract the engaged and thoughtful community that you desire.

Engage elsewhere. Don’t limit your engagement to your own posts. Get involved with communities in your sphere. 

9. Use social media monitoring software to track engagement 

How will you know that your efforts are paying off? Tracking your engagement on social media will tell you what’s working, and where you need to adjust your strategy going forward.

Check in with your analytics frequently using social media monitoring software such as:

Here’s how often you should be checking in and why:

Check in weekly. Briefly check in with your analytics weekly to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s working and what’s not. No formal report is needed each week. But it’s a good practice to look out for trends and take note of anything you may want to come back to during monthly reporting. 

Check in monthly. Set aside a couple hours each month to do a deeper dive into your analytics. Fluctuations that happen week by week can be contextualized with a look at the entire month. 

Check in quarterly. Checking in with your analytics quarterly can be a great way to see how your efforts are stacking up against your annual goals. What’s working and what’s not working so far? You may need to adjust certain strategies to finish the year off strong.

You can also look out for trends in topics quarterly. You can pull ideas for your longform content (blogs, webinars, podcasts) from topics that are performing exceptionally well. Social media can be a great testing ground for content ideas.

Check in annually. Diving into your analytics annually really gives you the big picture of how your content performed throughout the year. 

Look at how your content performed month by month. Notice the larger themes and trends. Take into account seasonal changes (e.g. everyone being on vacation in December) and other external factors like events, special promotions or giveaways, series, etc. 

Creating an annual report will help you identify areas for growth and set your strategies and approach for the following year. 

10. Prepare engagement and metrics reports for your team 

Your goals will determine which metrics you choose to pull into your report. Keep your goals in mind as you create the report so that it’s meaningful, and not merely featuring vanity metrics.  

You may decide to prepare your reports monthly, quarterly, and annually. 

Regardless of the frequency, make them actionable with key learnings, notes for improvement, and review them together as a team.

Key insights to include in your reports include: 

  • Increase/decrease in follower count
  • Average engagement/interactions over a time period (include formula)
  • Average engagement per post
  • Post volume – this is important for context!
  • Clicks
  • Social referral traffic 
  • How do your metrics stack against your goals?
  • What key factors affected dips/peeks in numbers over the duration of time?
  • What improvements do you need to make going forward?

There’s many ways you can prepare your report. You can use a template like this one, or use the tools at your disposal in Google Drive.

A spreadsheet works great for keeping up with metrics on an ongoing basis:

social sharing spreadsheet

While you can keep a few general notes in a spreadsheet, it often works better to expound on your analysis in a reporting document:

Slides are a visually appealing way to report, and work really well when you need to present your goals or strategies to the team:

Let’s get moving

Ready to implement your own social media workflow?

No more empty tanks on a Tuesday morning. From acknowledging your audience and goals, to populating your social media content calendar and tracking your results, you’ll be set up for daily success with your new streamlined process. 

But don’t forget that the best social media marketers are nimble. Stay up to date with the latest trends, and be ready to mix it up when needed. An excellent social media workflow will make your posting and reporting cadence run like clockwork so that you have the freedom to be your best, most creative self.

_learn-free-crm-software
Make your social media workflow a breeze

Using social media management software helps streamline processes and keep your SMMs in check.

_learn-free-crm-software
Make your social media workflow a breeze

Using social media management software helps streamline processes and keep your SMMs in check.

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