Social strate­gists are under the gun. Whether your posi­tion involves 100 per­cent focus on social strat­egy, or just 10 per­cent, you have to know how to get it done. Devel­op­ing a social strat­egy takes time, and a lot of trial and error.

Here at Adobe, we have tried many dif­fer­ent approaches, and we’ve learned from our fail­ures. My team has the lux­ury of devot­ing all of our hours to social strat­egy, and we’d like to share with our peers what we have gained from div­ing head­long into the social­iza­tion of our dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing strat­egy to the ben­e­fit of both small and large companies.

Social Is Com­ing Along

Social strate­gists walk a fine line. Entic­ing con­sumers to relate to each other—and by default, your business—without overtly sell­ing your brand requires a unit set of skills—and end­less cre­ativ­ity. Out of the Wild, Wild West of the social media land­scape, we are learn­ing that cer­tain qual­i­ties help drive the suc­cess of a cam­paign. The cow­boy nature of social is slowly but surely devel­op­ing into a strate­gic com­mu­nity of social evan­ge­lists set­ting up shop along Main Street and mak­ing sure that the com­mu­nity has access to what it needs.

The Nitty Gritty of Suc­cess­ful Social Campaigns

This social exper­i­ment evolved out of a need cre­ated from a two-tiered coor­di­nated pub­lic rela­tions release, prod­uct launch time­line. The time elapsed between the PR release and the prod­uct launch muted the pos­i­tive buzz about the Adobe Cre­ative Cloud prod­uct. We had to build that social buzz back up around the actual launch date.

As a social team, we put our think­ing caps on and came up with two cam­paigns to keep the new prod­uct at the fore­front of cus­tomers’ minds. One of these cam­paigns per­formed much bet­ter than the other.

This is how it played out:

The Remix a Clas­sic cam­paign invited our audi­ence to enter a con­test to rework the iconic Eames chair. The cam­paign included lit­tle paid media, a teaser video (that received tons of views), and ran for a week.


The Claim Your Frame cam­paign invited cre­atives to sub­mit a self-portrait that would become a sin­gle frame of the first-ever crowd­sourced music video. The cam­paign included a strate­gic pro­moted con­tent com­po­nent, a teaser video (that achieved fewer views than the Remix teaser), and ran for only 24 hours.

Which one do you think per­formed bet­ter? The crowd­sourced video.

Here is what we learned about the out­come that busi­nesses can apply to their own social strategies:

  • Shorter events work bet­ter. They moti­vate peo­ple to get involved now. Longer inter­ac­tions may give peo­ple free­dom to par­tic­i­pate later, but then they never do.
  • Pro­moted con­tent gives the over­all cam­paign a crit­i­cal boost.
  • Par­tic­i­pa­tion drops sig­nif­i­cantly when the event sub­mis­sion process requires too many steps (unless the pay­off is big).

The eas­ier of the two cam­paigns, Claim Your Frame, took 10 to 15 min­utes to be able to par­tic­i­pate, whereas to par­tic­i­pate in the Remix con­test, peo­ple had to do sev­eral steps:

  1. Down­load images of the chair.
  2. Apply a design.
  3. Cre­ate an account or log in to their exist­ing Behance​.net account.
  4. Upload the design idea.

There are some valu­able take­aways and lessons learned from these social exper­i­ments. They are impor­tant because if we don’t learn and apply those lessons to future events, we have missed an oppor­tu­nity and will repeat mis­takes. Thus, here are my key observations:

  • Pro­moted con­tent is crit­i­cal to event success.
  • Lim­ited span of atten­tion, quick involve­ment events work better.
  • Global events gen­er­ally involve legal com­pli­ca­tions. Thus the Claim Your Frame event had no prizes or give­aways asso­ci­ated with it so it could be con­ducted glob­ally with­out restrictions.
  • Remix a Clas­sic was pre­sented to a select audi­ence in the US, Canada, United King­dom, and Ger­many where the local­iza­tion require­ments had been set­tled well in advance.

Call it the demys­ti­fi­ca­tion of social strat­egy. Or the school of hard knocks. What­ever the chal­lenge, social strate­gists can cel­e­brate what works and share a judgment-free learn­ing space where we tame the wild social sphere.