14 September 2023 |

Social media approvals without going insane


A real life example, thank’s to Acquire.com 👇

Is there anything worse than thinking of a military-grade banger for the brand social account, only for it to get shot down by some C-suite who doesn’t understand social, after a painstaking 2-3 weeks of approvals and edits?

Well, yeah. Lot’s of things. But it still sucks.

Approvals are a necessary evil for companies. I get it. You don’t want a rogue post to leave a massive blemish on your company’s reputation. Not a great look, and it could have serious financial implications.

The problem is, the majority of the posts that get battered by approvals and edits aren’t even risky to begin with.

When your default is to shoot down ideas from your marketing team, do you think they’re going to feel compelled to keep pitching creative ideas?

Eh. I don’t think so.

So how do we find the balance?

I came across a great example of a lean approval process from Ellen Park (Social Media Manager for Acquired.com) on Twitter/X earlier this week. Check this out.

Here’s what Ellen said:

One of my favorite parts about working at a startup is that getting approval on assets takes little to no time.

It’s so fast.

Want to ship something out ad hoc?

Design -> get approval from stakeholder-> ship.

One message to the stakeholder(s) and it’s approved.”

Once drafted, the post was approved and published within 30 minutes. Rapid.

More companies need to adopt this approach, especially startups with no reason to be overly strict like legacy brand might need to be.

Approvals should be:

  1. Quick
  2. Reserved for posts where it matters
  3. Biased towards creativity and (calculated) risk taking

An easy way to accomplish this is to establish a repeatable approval process with 1-2 points of contact, max.

Whenever I’ve dealt with approval headaches, it’s usually a result of approval by committee.

Everyone has conflicting opinions, and publishing gets held up as a result. And if the post does see the light of day, it’s usually been mutilated by incoherent edits from people lacking context (this is arguable worse than just not posting 😂).

Keep the chain of command for approvals lean. Ellen has a direct line of communication to the founder via a Slack channel for a quick ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Simple.

I had a similar set-up when I was in-house. My CMO understood social, so he kinda just let me rip it. But if there was a post that I was hesitant about, or if there was a major launch that day, I’d just ping him, get a response (usually ‘good to go’), and ship it.

My best clients also operate similarly.

I understand there are some companies with reasons for longer, tighter approvals (government agencies, medical companies, etc). Startups do have the luxury of speed, but perhaps to your surprise, not all of them take advantage of this.

Generally speaking, my recommendation for companies is:

  • Set up an agreed upon approval workflow
  • Establish criteria for which posts actually need to be approved (bias towards trusting the social team)
  • Keep amount of stakeholders needed for approvals low (no approval by committee)

The more you reduce your time-to-ship, the better you’re able to hop on relevant industry moments. You’re also able to gather more data points, which will better inform future content.

That’s all I’ve got today.