Susan Chang, Head of Social Media at Dropbox, recently carried out an extensive social media activation at their Work in Progress conference in San Francisco.

“This was the first conference we’ve done where anyone in the public could buy a ticket and attend,” Susan said. “Previous events have been invite-only.”

The conference aimed to introduce as many customers as possible to Dropbox’s new narrative and messaging as well as their new product, Dropbox Spaces — which launched at the conference.

“Our new mission statement is: ‘Dropbox is here to design a more enlightened way of working,’” said Susan. “We also created a narrative around that messaging, which is that work is broken and we’re fighting against things like the 24-hour workday and burnout, so Dropbox is here to help you focus. Our tools have been working against us, and Dropbox believes the tools should work for you and help you disconnect from work when you’re done.”

In alignment with that messaging, Dropbox also released their new product, Dropbox Spaces, which brings all the tools users have at work into one focused area. “It helps you organize all the different tools and messages you get from your teammates,” she said.

A big piece of the activation was Dropbox CEO Drew Houston’s keynote speech.

“It was a natural fit that the speech needed to be broadcasted on social because the company wants as many people as possible to see events like this and extend the life of the message,” she said. “And social is a great way to distribute that content.”

According to Susan, they needed buy-in from the AV team to borrow some of their people and resources to help put together social videos during the conference.

“My plan was that we’d livestream the entire keynote on YouTube, in addition to creating short and socially optimized video snippets that would be edited on the stop and released on social right after the keynote ended,” she said.

She sat backstage alongside the AV team so that they were aligned on which snippets of the keynote to edit and turn into short social videos. Then, they were turned into 16×9 and 9×16 videos to share on Instagram Stories, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

“Doing it on the spot was exciting because we were turning around the content in about an hour,” said Susan.

The team livestreamed the full speech on their YouTube channel as well.

“It was great to be able to release that to our online audience, because only a small portion of them were physically at the event,” she said.

Susan added that certain journalists received exclusives on the conference, so her team had to make sure their social content was posted after that embargo was lifted.

According to Susan, her partnership with the video team and onsite photographers was essential to executing the activation.

“We were lucky to have the resources of a professional video and photography team,” she said. “Without those resources, sometimes someone on the social team has to fill those roles, so it’s important to have clear expectations of who is doing what. It doesn’t have to be a professional agency all the time, but someone needs to be capturing this content.”

Other pieces of the content on the day of the conference were pre-planned to look like they were being created and shared live.

Susan and her team worked with a social agency to brainstorm ideas for this pre-planned content. “We didn’t want to just share photos from the event, we also wanted to create interactive opportunities for audiences to engage with our Instagram Stories,” she said.

They created Instagram Story polls called “Dropbox Thoughts” to highlight the main points of Drew’s keynote speech and continue their narrative.

“The polls asked questions about key themes that would be shared in Drew’s speech, such as ‘lost focus,’” Susan said. “We didn’t know what photo we were going to use yet in the IG Story since it would be captured at the event, but the poll questions were planned ahead of time.”

She emphasized the importance of being on site to project manage the activation and ensure the social content they were sharing told a cohesive story.

“It was important to have a set storyboard because it helped eliminate variables and relieved a lot of the stress and anxiety associated with covering a live event,” she said.

She said post-event content has been one of the key pieces of the activation.

“Most of our paid social efforts for the conference were put towards our post-event assets, which we created in order to extend the life of the messaging we shared at Work in Progress,” said Susan.

Those assets include a series of interviews with thought leaders in the neuroscience space called “The Mind at Work.”

“They’re people who are interested in how to design better workflows and study how the brain functions at work,” she said. “We created blog posts and a series of social posts, including Instagram Stories for each interview.”

According to Susan, those posts have seen some great engagement and have been helpful in driving Dropbox’s new messaging. “We’re excited because we still have around 10 more of those interviews to share in the upcoming months,” she said.

While most of the Work in Progress activation went smoothly, Susan is looking forward to improving upon the YouTube livestream next time around.

“We did the livestream for the first time,” she said. “I was pretty nervous something bad would happen, but it went great. However, I would’ve loved for more people to have watched the stream when it was live.”

She explained most of the live stream’s views actually came after the conference had ended, so if they do a similar activation at next year’s conference, the team hopes to drive more of those audiences to the stream in real time.

Last summer, the team executed a social media activation at Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco — but Susan emphasized that this one required a much different planning process.

“The two are similar in that they were both created around onsite physical events where we wanted to tell the Dropbox story,” she said. “But the Outside Lands social activation was mostly focused around the content that was actually created onsite.”

For Work in Progress, they weren’t just talking about the event the day it happened, Susan explained.

“We’re following up and continuing to drill home our new narrative, not just for the rest of the year but also going into 2020,” she said.

For other brands looking to do a similar social media activation, Susan suggested not being afraid to ask for resources.

“I had never done a YouTube livestream before, so I asked for help from our video team,” she said. “They have the experience we needed to execute it well.”

She also said it’s important to not feel like you have to be the expert in everything, because projects of this size impact more than just the social media team.

“It impacts the whole company,” she said. “The more people you can get involved and share the work, the better the outcome will be.”

Susan Chang has been a member of since 2018. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.