The Key to Smart, Safe, and Successful Social Media Takeovers

By Sarah Dawley

Social

Image via Unsplash under CC0 1.0

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

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:

Celebrity takeover

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).

Influencer takeover

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.

Employee takeover

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:

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.

Hootsuite can make managing social media—including takeovers—easy, effective, and secure.

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