Ask any social media marketer who works for a larger organization the most painful part of their jobs and almost all of them will respond with the same answer:
The content approval process.
Most companies turn what should be a relatively easy, simple process into one of the most painful, stressful and time-consuming processes in all of marketing.
I wish that was hyperbole.
But I promise you, it is not. Partly because I’ve seen this movie before–many, many times.
I’ve seen content approval processes that take upwards of 6-8 weeks!
I’ve seen content approval processes that include the freaking CEO approving content!
And, I’m sure if you’re reading this, you could probably share some whopper stories of your own and the content approval processes you’ve been a part of over the years.
But, this is partly based on data, too. A recent Altimeter Report asked marketers how they would describe their current content approval process. A full 58% said they either share every piece of content manually with the legal team of executives for approval.
Only 16% said content was approved through a dedicated compliance-driven platform.
In other words, AT LEAST 6 out of 10 of us are being subjected to a very, very time-consuming and painful content approval process.
Why? Mostly because everyone wants a say. Everyone from VPs to CMOs to management peers. It’s content by committee–that’s what I’ve seen the most. But, there’s also a CYA component to this, too. Risk must be mitigated in today’s corporate environment–and with social, that means setting up a rigorous (and outlandishly time-consuming) content approval process. The intent is OK, but the execution of such a process is often hideous.
So, what’s the solution? How do you set up a content approval process that doesn’t suck the life out of you?
I might suggest three easy steps:
#1 – Work closely with the highest-ranking marketer you can to build a simple content approval system. This is the hardest part. But, find the most senior-level marketer with the best understanding of social and work with him or her to advocate for a uber-simplified version of this process. This is the person who will take the bullets. Who will stand up to the CMO or CEO when they ask to see that post that’s going out tomorrow. This step is critical–and you need to find the right person. Someone who has a good reputation internally and who has a very strong backbone. You will definitely need this person to succeed in building a more simple approval process.
#2 – Involve as few people as you can. And I’m talking like 2-3, at most. There’s just no reason to have more than 5 people reviewing content. Yes, you want to get different perspectives on content. And yes, you want people going over things with a fine-toothed comb. But, you just don’t need that many people to do that (this is why you need that senior-level advocate I mentioned above). Worse yet, the more people you get involved, the better chance there is your content will become watered down and eventually drive little in the way of results.
#3 – Build trust with legal as a means to cut them (mostly) out of the approval loop. Legal typically needs to be involved with most content approval processes. But, from what I’ve seen, they’re far too involved and spend way too much time in the process. My advice: Work closely with legal and run content by them for a few months. Build trust and agree on what to avoid and red flags they might look for. Once you get a good feel for those things (and build trust with them, in the meantime), you can suggest maybe just looping them in on content you think could potentially get a look from them. Remember, these folks usually don’t want more busywork than they already have either. You’re trying to solve a problem–and for them, the problem is covering their butt by making sure social content doesn’t get the company in hot water, while not asking them to do a ton of work.