There is no debate that the modern organization needs a strong social media presence to survive. 55% of Americans get their news through social media as opposed to reading the paper or watching the evening news.
But while social media can be a great boon for your company’s reputation, poor planning runs the risk of ruining your business.
So how do you create successful workflows to boost your social media success?
To find out, I went to the source. In less than a year, Aidan Nickerson, Process Street’s Social Media Manager, has built the company’s social media processes from scratch – and created a well-oiled machine as a result.
This post will explore:
- Living the remote startup life
- How to create workflows that work
- The power of process management
Living the Remote Startup Life
2020 was a game-changer for many companies and the remote work experience. For companies like Process Street, however, working from home was just business as usual.
Still, while the organization itself is a bit of an old hand at remote work, not everyone on the team is. For Aidan, this was his first role as a social media manager, first at a B2B company, first at a startup, and first working remotely.
Pulse surveys are a way to measure how workflows are performing. This can help optimize your processes and find areas for improvement so that you’re getting the most out of every minute.
That’s a lot of firsts.
Previously Aidan had worked for companies that created entertaining content for individuals and B2C organizations. For him, the appeal of social media marketing is acting as “that frontline defense […] to promote your products, to talk about your brand, to interact with customers.”
One of my favorite questions to ask my colleagues is: why Process Street? I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the same answer twice, so naturally, it was my first question to Aidan during our interview.
“It was exciting to go into a startup in an expanding industry. As a company, we hadn’t really focused on social media before, and it was going to be something that would need a lot of building.”
For many startup employees, this emphasis on hands-on development and building processes from the ground up is the main appeal of joining a young company. Startups – especially remote startups – offer teams a lot of autonomy, flexibility, and accessibility.
As Aidan mentioned, he doesn’t have to wade through multiple layers of approval to implement a new workflow. Process Street’s decision-makers – such as Vinay Patankar (CEO) and Bryan Sise (VP of Marketing) – are imminently accessible to every employee, making Process Street’s structure less hierarchical than larger companies.
“I definitely do appreciate [that] Bryan, Adam [Henshall], and Vinay give a lot of trust. When you give your team trust, it’s only beneficial. There’s constant dialogue there, as well, which is really important. I meet with Bryan biweekly so if I have any bottlenecks […] or something I’m not happy with, we can have that conversation.”
All this boils down to Aidan possessing a lot of agency in determining his own workflows, particularly in his first few months with the company. While some might have found his position daunting, Aidan jumped at the chance to get his hands dirty and build some processes.
How to Create Workflows that Work
Creating strong workflows doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it a one-and-done situation. A good process management system, though, will help your organization monitor and maintain your workflows to ensure they’re continuing to meet your teams’ needs as your business grows.
There are three key stages to this process, which we’ll look at in this section:
- Creating new workflows
- Optimizing your workflows
- Managing your workflows
Since social media management hadn’t been a priority before Aidan joined the company, Process Street didn’t have an existing content calendar. This, in Aidan’s mind, was the first and most important thing to implement.
A social media content calendar is vital for successful strategizing, managing, tracking, and collaboration. When you’re a one-man team scheduling Customer Support’s webinars, Marketing’s blog posts, Development’s product releases, and engagements across multiple platforms, you need a content calendar.
So Aidan created one using a three-step process.
1. Fill Out Your Social Media Calendar
At the beginning of every week, Aidan gathers together all the content that’s been created, as well as all mentions of Process Street, articles, and other relevant content.
When creating images for all our posts, our graphic designers also create images optimized for social media that Aidan can easily add copy to. Since the images have already been made by the time the content calendar process starts, it’s easy to avoid bottlenecks and keep everything moving smoothly.
2. Get approval
Once the proposed schedule has been filled out, it’s time to get the plan signed off by the person in charge, whether this is a superior or a client. The important thing is to make sure the person you’re creating this for is happy with the result.
Finally, schedule the posts in your calendar using a tool like SocialBee, which handles all the posting, tracking, and analytics so you can concentrate on crafting the perfect 240-character message.
All you have to do is repeat those three steps for every sprint or campaign as a foundation for your copywriting process.
“We took a lot of time to understand what information we wanted and what we didn’t need on our content calendar. That was really important because it’s a good foundation in terms of other workflows. It’s important to have your process in place.”
Optimizing Your Workflows
“Complacency is my enemy.” –Trent Reznor
The more often we do something, the more familiar and comfortable we get doing it. Without a doubt, experience is a valuable thing. With experience, however, comes the risk of complacency. We can become too comfortable in our roles.
“Constantly reviewing what content is working, what’s not working, that’s really important [for optimizing workflows].”
This constant revision is closely tied to Aidan’s assertion that having a solid process in place, to begin with, is essential for workflow optimization.
A good process is, effectively, a living entity. It needs to constantly evolve as changes and innovations come up; the best way to make sure that evolution keeps happening is to empower the people using those processes to improve them.
For example, Process Street’s graphic designers created social media images on a more ad hoc basis. The system worked, but there wasn’t much wiggle room in the event of a what-if situation.
Aidan then worked closely with our two graphic designers to create imagery specifically optimized for Process Street’s social channels in terms of size and visibility to really grab the user’s attention.
As a result of this collaboration, they created a simple, effective process for producing social media images on a regular basis, and developed a “backup” template that could be edited by anyone if something unexpected came up.
Managing Your Workflows
We’ve all had those days where we end up doing a lot but accomplishing very little. Working remotely can be even more of a challenge. Your colleagues are in different cities or different countries. You have pets, neighbors, and Amazon deliveries interrupting your flow.
So how do you keep the productivity going after so many interruptions you’ve lost all motivation?
According to Aidan: Understand what you want to achieve each day.
Process Street’s content creation operates on monthly sprints. All the tasks, images, articles, and other content that needs to be created that month are assigned to different members of the team. Once we all have our deadlines, we do our own individual sprint planning session for that month.
Aidan’s process breaks it down even further. In addition to planning his workload by the month, he also plans it on a weekly basis. At the start of each week, he knows which days will be content creation days, which days have content scheduled, and so on.
Each day of the week has a specific goal to aim for which keeps Aidan focused on the process of reaching that goal.
While that is easier as a one-man team since he doesn’t have to rely on others as much to produce his work product, maintaining clear communication is an important component of maintaining efficient workflows.
“It’s really important to give that person all the information they need, so if they’re in a different time zone or out of the office, there’s no delay in the communication. If it’s a long message, it’s a long message. It’s more important that things are getting done without bottlenecks.”
Asynchronous workflows are the backbone of remote communication and collaboration. A conversation that might only take a few minutes in a face-to-face setting can easily stretch over days or weeks if not properly managed.
At Process Street, most of what we do is asynchronous by necessity – and not always due to time zones. Even my interview with Aidan happened asynchronously, and hypothetically I could hop on a plane and be in the same city in a little over an hour.
With different schedules and responsibilities, even team members that may be geographically close can have difficulty being available at the same time.
This is why we’ve established a practice of over-communication. As Aidan said, make sure the person you’re communicating with has every piece of information they need to act. You may be absolutely sure they already know one aspect, but you should still communicate it anyway. With asynchronous communication, no one is left waiting for that vital piece of information they need to complete their next task.
The Power of Process Management
In the end, mastering productive workflows – whether you’re scheduling content, engaging with customers and clients, or promoting the latest product launch – is really all about establishing a process management system, and then just following the process.
With solid processes as the foundation of your workflows, optimizing and maintaining them will be an integral part of using them on a day-to-day basis.
Leks Drakos is a rogue academic specializing in monstrosity, post-apocalyptic narratives, and contemporary novels, as well as a content writer for Process Street. You can also find him on Twitter. (he/him)