When it comes to building and managing strong client-agency partnerships, no detail is too small. It’s often the repeated micro-interactions that create a foundation for long-term trust and loyalty.

Consider your status check-ins, inquiries and of course, approvals. These everyday communications can make a huge impact on how your client understands your work. A few tweaks can completely transform a cumbersome process into an experience that positions your agency as a true creative partner.

Optimizing your internal and external processes will benefit your end-to-end social media approval workflows while still instilling confidence in your work. In this article, we’ll go over how these day-to-day interactions can strengthen agency-client relationships.

How approval workflows strengthen agency-client relationships

Some 92% of agencies offer social media management as part of their overall service package, according to Sprout’s Agency Pricing & Packaging Report. As social becomes a core part of agency offerings, you need to have the infrastructure to operate smoothly at scale.

Post approvals are a small but powerful step in any social media service offering. At their worst, they can involve a lot of follow-up, creating a time suck for you and your client. At their best, they can create client stickiness. Agency-client relationships get stronger when these processes become mini-opportunities for collaboration. Here’s how:

1. Demonstrate the value of social with a routine touchpoint

Social is your world, but for your clients, it’s just a fraction of their day-to-day. Approval workflows promote more active collaboration between you and your client’s teams.

Think of it this way: Your social performance reports summarize the results of all the hard work you’re putting in. Your social media approval workflow gives your clients a peek behind the curtain, providing a more granular view into your posting schedule without a heavy time investment.

This helps your client gain a deeper understanding of the strategy work you’ve put into developing their social presence. The more your clients understand your strategy, the better equipped they are to work as a creative partner to your team during content brainstorms.

2. Prevent mistakes with internal approvals

A good reputation is hard-earned and—given the speed of social—easily damaged. While successful client-agency partnerships are typically supported through your performance against deliverables, sometimes it’s what you don’t do that counts.

Maintain a strong foundation of trust by building quality assurance into your publishing process. In Sprout, this is done by adding an internal review step to your workflow to ensure your work is “agency approved” before its time for client review.

Sprout's internal approval workflow

Adding an internal review step to your social media approval process can serve as a safeguard that prevents costly mistakes or off-brand messaging from reaching your client—let alone their social media profiles. These measures ensure your client only sees quality work which helps build trust and a positive rapport.

3. Communicate with external stakeholders fast

After your work has gone through quality assurance, it’s time to send it off to the client for feedback. Sprout’s external workflow feature enables seamless client communication.

Exchanging communication feedback on several channels like Google Docs, a spreadsheet or an email thread can cause important details or context to get lost.

When agencies and stakeholders are passing social content back and forth on these platforms, it’s easy context—like how a post will look with an image and copy once published—to get lost. But Sprout’s approval workflow shows network previews, so external approvers can see what posts look like once published.

Sprout also enables external stakeholders to review and give feedback on social posts directly in our platform—even if they aren’t a Sprout user. The external approver doesn’t need to learn how to use our user interface or log in.

They can simply verify their email address, review the posts, comment with feedback and approve/deny the posts.

Social posts that needs approval using Sprout workflow

If internal approvals and commentary are still underway, external clients can’t see the conversation, allowing agencies to only share relevant information that’s important to their clients.

Sprout internal and external commentary featuring social media post preview

Plus, Sprout will send external approvers automated reminder emails leading up to the deadline if an approval hasn’t come through yet. This not only saves time and effort, but it alleviates the common pain point of remembering to follow up.

Social media marketing agencies also benefit from this external workflow feature because it simplifies managing multiple clients and stakeholders. Instead of using multiple platforms to communicate and review deliverables, agencies have one source of truth for execution.

4. Promote collaboration in times of crisis

Typically, you’ll be working with a set approval and publishing schedule. But when a crisis strikes and your schedule is thrown out the window, post approvals help support sudden shifts in content production.

When COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandates took effect in March 2020, Communicators Group had to revisit all of its clients’ social calendars. The agency had to work quickly to establish a strategy for publishing timely updates, many of which were being announced by the hour.

To publish important updates quickly and accurately, their team used Sprout’s Message Approval Workflow to draft, review and schedule new content.

“For several months, we completed 100% of our posts directly through the Message Approval Workflow feature simply because I could no longer plan out a month in advance,” said Raven Gill, Social Media Manager at Communicators Group.

“We’ve gotten to a better position where I can go back to monthly planning. But for some clients, we’re still working out of approval workflows because of how consistently things are changing.”

Communicators Group was able to act as a true partner, simplifying an already stressful situation for their many clients. Designing your approval workflow with crisis prevention in mind can help you do the same.

With Sprout’s external approvals, agencies can get client feedback on crisis communication posts fast. After client approval, the agency can make the changes and publish without leaving Sprout’s platform. Workflows like this during times of crisis will strengthen your agency-client relationship because they eliminate any risk of crucial messages getting lost in translation.

5. Retain and grow your business

Some 67% of digital marketing agencies say the reason clients choose them is because they establish themselves as strategic partners. By promoting collaboration, efficiency and quality, your social media approval workflow can strengthen your client-agency partnership and your business.

Strong client relationships drive referrals. Word-of-mouth referrals are one of the most popular ways agencies drive new business. Having operations that streamline collaboration within your existing client relationships can ultimately fuel your new business strategy.

Well-designed processes strengthen agency-client relationships by showing you can scale social efforts without sacrificing quality or brand voice. It may seem simple, but it’s also incredibly effective.

Creating a workflow that supports lasting agency-client relationships

Opportunities for agency-client collaboration can be found in surprising places. Take routine processes and use them as an opportunity to showcase the true value of your agency.

Sprout Social's approval workflow settings

Sprout’s Message Approval Workflow feature can handle every step of your process in one integrated system. And with external approvals, communication with clients–especially during times of crisis– is faster and easier because your clients can provide commentary even if they aren’t a Sprout customer.

Build your approval workflow and see how else Sprout can support your growing agency by signing up for a free trial today.

Start your free Sprout trial