What to do when you have to adapt someone else’s work

When you’re a social media creative, sometimes your brief is to come up with an original idea, and sometimes your assignment is to adapt someone else’s idea. This post deals with what happens when you’re asked to do the latter. Transforming someone else’s work or campaign into something that will resonate on social platforms isn’t easy, but here are some tactics that can help.

  1. Don’t resize. Do adapt. Establish up front with your internal team and clients that your job is not to just resize assets. Your goal is to make sure the idea you’ve been handed will be engaging and sharable. Social is a different animal than traditional, digital and in-store, you need some wiggle room in order to transform a campaign that may not be ideal for social media into something that is. (Obviously, it can take awhile for this point to sink in, so keep at it.)
  2. Augment. Add to. Repurpose. When you first look over someone else’s campaign, take the time to learn about the strategy and the important things being communicated. This will help you fill your blank piece of paper with strong ideas on how to repurpose and enhance. (Plus, the more you know about what inspired their campaign, the better you can defend yours.)
  3. Review the flat art. Demand the assets. Request all the files, layered PSDs, and video and audio splits that you need. Having the complete files can be your springboard for creating work that you know would better fit the platforms. For example, you can take a layered PSD and create a video that can run on Facebook, Vine or Instagram. Simply taking a flat image and turning into a video usually makes it more interesting and engaging.
  4. Make it snackable. Many advertising ideas that are perfect for a TV spot or banner ad, just don’t translate. If the idea you’re trying to adapt is complicated or requires explaining, it probably won’t click. So edit, shape and focus the work so it’s super simple to understand and enjoy as people scroll through their feed. Hence, snackable.
  5. Do what they ask, then do it better. This contradicts my first point, but it’s a fact of the business. Sometimes you’re explicitly told, “Follow our creative direction exactly.” So, act like a pair of hands and do that. Then spend time making something that wasn’t expected. When you can demonstrate how you’ve made their idea more appropriate or engaging for social media, you earn major points. And sometimes your idea wins. (When it does, make my first point will be easier to get across next time.)

Good luck.

Please share any ideas and strategy that you think works in the comments. I’d love the advice.