I know you’ve put months—maybe years—of effort into your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat accounts. You’ve fine-tuned your content strategy, perfected your brand voice, and built relationships with your followers.
But I’m going to suggest you hand it all over to someone else.
Not forever, of course. I’m talking about a social media takeover, which is the act of inviting someone to take over your account for a period of time. We’ll start by looking at what you can gain from organizing a social media takeover, and offer some tips for how you can make it as successful (and safe) as possible.
The benefits of a social media takeover
- Reach new audiences: A social media takeover is a joint effort. Both parties involved have their own audiences, so teaming up can potentially expose both accounts to new followers.
- Increase engagement: Whether it’s a Q&A session on Twitter or a series of photos posted to Instagram, a social media takeover is all about providing quality content that your audience can engage with.
- Build your brand: Think of a social media takeover as the ultimate third party endorsement. Hosting a takeover with an individual who exemplifies your brand can help humanize your voice on social.
- Drive web traffic: Capitalize on the attention that a takeover generates and push people from social media to your website.
How to plan and launch a social media takeover
1. Set a goal for the takeover
If you don’t set a goal for your takeover, you’ll essentially be handing over control of your social media account(s) for no reason. Not smart. Your business will gain much more from a takeover if it’s been planned and executed with a specific goal in mind. The benefits listed above are all excellent goals to aim for. Choose one (or two) and plan your takeover around it. Make sure whoever will be taking over your social media accounts is aware of your goals and what’s expected of them.
2. Find a relevant host
A social media takeover is only as good as the host who takes over. No matter how big or small your business is, there are plenty of options. Here are a few:
With their massive social media followings and real world influence, celebrities are an ideal choice for a takeover. The music streaming service Tidal recently hosted one on Twitter with rapper Pusha T.
Pusha T had new music to promote that had been released exclusively on Tidal, so this takeover was a win-win for both parties involved. It also benefitted the fans, who were able to have their questions answered and interact with Pusha T directly (which he rarely does on his personal Twitter account).
If landing a big name celebrity isn’t feasible or relevant for your brand, try hosting a takeover with someone who has a sizable following on social media that your target audience trusts or admires (an “influencer” in other words). These people have developed more direct relationships on social media than the mass followings of A-list celebrities, which means they wield influence with more specific audiences.
Clothing retailer Eddie Bauer regularly hands over its Instagram account to influencers—normal people who have built up large followings by posting beautiful photos that document their lives in a way that aligns with Eddie Bauer’s brand.
An alternative to letting someone outside the company post from your social media accounts is letting someone internally take the wheel for an hour or two. For example, your HR team could host a Twitter takeover and chat with people about current job openings.
Flowers for Dreams is a Chicago-based company that sells and delivers beautiful bouquets of flowers, sending a quarter of the profits to local charities. The co-founder and CEO recently took over the company’s Snapchat to give everyone access to a day in the life of those working at Flowers for Dreams. Followers were also encouraged to send in their questions, which the company answered back through Snapchat.
Customer or follower takeover
An alternative to competing with other brands to secure a celebrity or influencer is hosting a social media takeover with one of your customers or followers. You’ll get a source of user-generated content, and your followers will get the chance to share their photos, thoughts, or opinions with a larger audience than they normally have access to.
The Calgary Stampede invited its Instagram followers to post pics using the hashtag #InstaStampede for a chance to take over the official Instagram account for one day during the annual 10-day event. The winners will get passes to all of the main events and gift cards to spend at the Stampede, which ensures they’ll have plenty of Instagram-worthy content to share during their takeover.
3. Choose a format
The format of your takeover (and the social network you choose to execute it on) should be directly related to what you want to achieve. Here are some ideas:
- Twitter takeover: A Q&A session is the most effective use of a Twitter takeover, and is a great tactic for increasing engagement and gaining new followers. Create a specific hashtag for the takeover and encourage your followers to submit their questions using it. Have your host quote each Tweet and use the hashtag along with their answer.
- Facebook takeover: Host a takeover through Facebook Live and have your celebrity, influencer, or expert answer questions from your Facebook fans in real time. Since the takeover is happening through live video, your audience will have plenty of incentive to tune in and engage.
- Instagram takeover: Showcasing someone else’s perspective through an Instagram takeover is a great way to build your brand. You can use it to populate your account with the type of content you want associated with your business and gain new followers in the process.
- Snapchat takeover: Inject some creativity into your social media presence by hosting a Snapchat takeover, allowing someone to document an event or a day in their life. Snapchat is a raw, fun, and informal platform which makes it perfect for relinquishing a bit of control through a takeover.
No matter what format or social network you choose, consider adding a contest element to your social media takeover. Having something to give away to your followers at the end of the takeover will draw more attention and incentivize people to participate.
Best practices and security tips
You’ve set a goal, secured a host, and chosen a format—but before you hand over the keys, here are some things to keep in mind.
- Make it mutually beneficial. You’re going to be asking someone to tie their personal brand to your business. What’s in it for them? Will the takeover help them reach new audiences? Can they promote something they’ve been working on or give it away as a prize? Let the person know how they can benefit from taking over your social account and they’ll have a lot more reason to do so.
- Set clear expectations. Make sure the person taking over knows exactly what’s expected of them. Communicate your timelines, guidelines, and goals beforehand and be available for any questions they may have.
- Promote it on every account. Use Instagram or Facebook to promote your Twitter or Snapchat takeover and vice versa. Have your host post about it on their own personal account before the takeover begins to push as many people as possible to your profile.
- Learn to let go. There’s no point in doing a social media takeover if you’re going to micromanage the entire thing. Allow your host to post what they want to post. If you’ve chosen someone trustworthy that embodies your brand and they’ve been briefed on your goals for the takeover, sit back and let them do their thing.
- Monitor closely. If possible, arrange to be in the same physical place as your host. You can take photos of their arrival and post them to drum up more excitement, and you’ll be able to answer any questions in person throughout the takeover. Whether you’re in the same space or not, using Hootsuite can help everyone collaborate and monitor the takeover from one centralized dashboard.
- Stay secure. The best way to reduce risk during a social media takeover is by using Hootsuite to give your host access to your social accounts without actually giving them the passwords. Although this will help significantly reduce the risks involved with hosting a social media takeover, it won’t eliminate them. The person taking over will still have the power to post whatever they want. But if you’re monitoring the action in Hootsuite, you’ll be able to quickly see if your host is going rogue, revoke their posting power, and immediately delete any offensive content.
Hootsuite can make managing social media—including takeovers—easy, effective, and secure.