6 ways to retool your creative process for social media

 We had a creative process in place. Time and time again it served us well, helping us take a kernel of an idea and turn it into a polished campaign. We were proud of our process. But after running several social media campaigns, we realized the old girl needed a fundamental revamp. And with large projects approaching for the likes of Pepsico and the UN, the need was imperative.
It used to be pretty simple. A client came to us with a communication need, we wrote a brief, and the creative team crafted messaging using the major media channels. But our shift in focus toward social media created new challenges in targeting, media channel selection and competence requirements, among other things. So we went back to the drawing board. Here are the major revisions we discovered the traditional process was in great need of.1. Make the client fully understand what they are getting themselves into
Clients are used to a start/stop approach to marketing where efforts are concentrated in single bursts a few times a year. But social media campaigns demand a 24/7 mentality. When there is miscommunication about the amount of ongoing effort required, the campaign is set up to fail. Defining benchmarks for success is equally vital, because social campaigns payback in a different way than traditional campaigns and social success could just as easily look like failure in the client’s eyes. Extra time needs to be devoted to this earliest part of the process. 2. Copywriter + Art Director won’t cut it anymore
For traditional media projects, you can’t beat this dynamic duo. For social media projects, they’ll need a little help. Delve into the needs of the project and see what other competences will be required. This will usually include a web designer, a social media strategist, a programmer, an SEO expert and content strategist. 3. Devote more time to finding out where the client (and competition) already are
Oddly enough, this isn’t as simple as asking the client for the answer. It’s not just about what the client has done, but what assets other people (friends or enemies) have created. The upside is much of the legwork may have already been done for you. For example, a project we did for Gatorade focused largely on working with a Facebook group started by two random fans. But finding such assets means you need to search through the major channels one by one. And then do it again for major competitors, because the last thing you want is to inadvertently follow in someone’s footsteps or create a second rate version of what a couple teenagers have made.4. Redefine what’s PR
Social media is evaporating the lines between media relations and advertising. The difference used to be, in large part, that PR firms handled unpaid media and ad agencies focused on media that earned them a commission. In the past, things like direct contact with editors and writers was never something an agency had to worry about. Today, bloggers and site admins play a key role in getting your target involved in your online program. They should be a core part of your efforts and planned into the process. If a PR firm is involved, be sure you are clear on who does what at the outset. 5. Establish a presence on cornerstone sites, but don’t confuse this with a campaign
Being on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn isn’t a campaign, it’s simply expected. When someone goes online to look for your brand, these are the first places they will go to learn more about you – your website is not their first destination anymore. Once you have that presence established, you can find a compelling idea to deliver through those channels to engage people and make visiting the assets worth their while. 6. Research cutting edge technology – but never lose focus on your idea
New social media technology is springing up all the time, giving creative minds an expanding pallet to toy with. In many cases, new developments aren’t especially expensive to implement. Augmented reality is a good example of this as it doesn’t take much more than some additional programming. While zealous copywriters and art directors start having grandiose visions, make sure your campaign idea dictates what the technology is used for – not the other way around.As you may have gleaned, a social media campaign requires more digging and assembling than traditional campaigns. Ultimately, it’s a beautiful thing as the focus has shifted toward making one-to-one connections instead of mass shouting. So roll up those sleeves. The fun’s just getting started.