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 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.