Social Media

How to Run a Smart Social Media Takeover

Ever consider running a social media takeover?

A social media takeover is when you grant posting privileges to a person of interest, like an influencer, expert, or professional. While takeovers are most popular on Instagram and Snapchat, they can be hosted on any social platform.

This guide will cover how your brand can benefit from a social media takeover. It’ll also show you how to run your own takeover, step-by-step. And give you inspiration from other successful social media takeovers.

Why run a social media takeover?

There are many reasons to host social media takeover. They can help you increase awareness of your brand, open up new audiences, engage your current followers, and more.

Increase exposure

Social algorithms change often, but a general rule is the more engagement your post receives, the more likely it will be seen by others. Whether you tap a macro-influencer with a large audience or a micro-influencer with a dedicated base, increased exposure can bring your account more engagement, sales, and followers.

Ethical fashion brand Everlane teamed up with Teen Vogue beauty editor and stylist Michelle Li for her expert advice on how to style their threads.

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A post shared by Michelle Li (@himichelleli)

Gain new followers

One of the primary benefits of increased exposure is new followers.

If you can find a takeover host that speaks to your target demographic, chances are higher they’ll be interested in hearing more from your brand. But takeovers can also be an effective way to move into new markets.

Opening a shop in a new city? Launching a menswear line? Find a host that holds sway in your new target market and can introduce you to new prospective followers.

To announce its offering of free worldwide shipping on orders, Reformation tapped British influencer Lucy Williams takeover its Instagram Stories and model their pieces around London.

Reformation Instagram takeover

Build brand affinity

Takeover hosts can have a halo effect for your brand. If an influencer is trusted by their audience, their vote of confidence can go a long way for your brand’s credibility.

But don’t think of takeovers as strictly endorsements. Takeover hosts can show a more personal or ethical side to your brand.

If you’d like to promote your sustainable practices, for example, get a host who is a well-known advocate for the environment. Want to prove that your products can be worn by people of all ages and body types? Find takeover hosts with different ages and body types.

For its Twitter takeover, Mastercard asked its summer interns what they are passionate about. The campaign was able to promote the brand’s #pricelesssummer campaign, while sharing a more personal side as well.

Share different perspectives

Unique points of view can resonate with different followers. Social media managers should always work to include and account for diverse perspectives, and takeovers can help to fill in gaps or lift certain voices.

Do a social media audit and see if your content truly reflects your audience, customers, or employees. If it doesn’t, consider a social media takeover as a way to introduce new faces, ideas, and experiences.

The Washington’s Post travel brand By The Way sourced 50 local reporters and authors from destinations around the world to takeover its Instagram Stories. Going local in the travel context lends authenticity as well as diversity.

By the Way Instagram StoryBy the Way Instagram Story

Kanchan Koya’s perspective as a molecular biologist/mom spiced up her @BuzzfeedTasty takeover with tips that only she could offer.

Buzzfeed Tasty social media takeover

Make the most of special events

Whether you’re launching a new campaign or sponsoring an event, a takeover can help your brand seize the moment on social media. And special events usually result in entertaining content that your brand and takeover host can get creative with.

If it’s a high-profile event, be sure to use relevant hashtags that will help you nab extra exposure.

Also keep an eye on social media holidays. If you create cat products and you plan to host a takeover from a pet influencer, #InternationalCatDay might be a good day for it.

Red Bull and Red Bull Photography teamed up during its #RedBowlRippers event with a takeover from photographer Teddy Morellec. In addition to its own rippin’ event, the takeover gained exposure with the #WorldPhotographyDay hashtag.

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A post shared by Teddy Morellec (@teddymorellec)

How to run a social media takeover in 5 steps

  1. Define your goals
  2. Find the right creators
  3. Set takeover parameters
  4. Promote the takeover
  5. Track your success

Social media takeovers don’t have to be complicated. Follow these steps to make sure your takeover checks all the right boxes.

We’ve included examples to inspire social media takeover ideas along the way.

1. Define your goals

If you think a social media takeover is right for your brand, start by creating a plan. What do you hope to accomplish with a takeover? How will you do it? When will you do it? How will you define success?

A savvy way to answer these questions with with the SMART rubric:

  • Specific: Clearly state your campaign intentions.
  • Measureable: Describe the metrics you will use to track performance.
  • Attainable: Be realistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Relevant: Make sure the takeover ties back to broader business goals.
  • Timely: Set deadlines that work for you team and social calendar.

By bringing your goals into sharper focus, you’ll be in a better position to answer key social media takeover questions, such as:

  • What channels will you use for your takeover?
  • Will your takeover have a theme?
  • What kind of creators will be a good fit?

2. Find the right creators

With your goals defined you’ll need to find people that can help you achieve them.

Partnering with an influencer is a popular choice since good creators will have large and loyal audiences.

If you go this route, check to see who they’ve partnered with in the past. Look at the engagement on their campaigns and get familiar with their personality.

Pro tip: Watch for things that may be red flags for your brand, such as previous partnerships with a competitor or promoting views that your company doesn’t stand for.

Not all social media takeovers require influencers, though. Consider partnering with people who have a unique and informed perspective.

For example, every week on Instagram @newyorkerphoto hands over the spotlight to a different photographer. These photographers may not have huge audiences, but they create work that is The New Yorker’s audience will find interesting.

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A post shared by New Yorker Photo (@newyorkerphoto)

To promote new shows at The Kennedy Center, the performing arts center offers behind-the-scenes tours with takeovers from its stars.

Over on Snapchat, the Tony Awards tapped Simba from The Lion King to host the event on social media.

Or maybe you’d like to show the people behind your brand. An employee takeover can be a great way to show off your in-house expertise, customer service, corporate values, and more.

A little monkey business is fair game, too. Just ask the gorilla keeper at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust & Jersey Zoo.

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A post shared by Durrell Wildlife (@durrell_jerseyzoo)

3. Set takeover parameters

Here’s where you’ll delve into the details.

Before going too far, it’s important to sort out who will be creating and posting what content. In many cases the takeover host is featured in the content, which means control can be kept within your brand’s social media team.

If your host is creating the content, determine a schedule for reviewing and posting. You can hand over access to your account, or ask them to provide it and post on their behalf—unless your takeover is on Snapchat, in which case you’ll have to hand over access.

If you have a brand or social media style guide, be sure to provide it to your host.

Other things you should discuss include:

  • What platforms will the takeover be held on? (Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
  • When and for how long will the takeover run? Factor in metrics like your influencer’s audience location and the time of day they receive the most engagement.
  • What type of media will be shared? Photos, Boomerangs, videos, etc. Is the host responsible for writing copy as well?
  • Will the takeover include posts, stories, IGTV, or YouTube videos?
  • How many posts will the takeover include?
  • Will the takeover promote a hashtag? Should it include another hashtag as well?
  • Should content include other elements such as stickers, filters, or polls? Will links be included as well?

Depending on the platform you choose, some details will matter more than others. For example, Irene Kim’s Seoul Fashion Week Snapchat takeover for Vogue required some logistical planning, but the content was more off-the-cuff than polished.

Meanwhile The North Face’s hyper-polished, multi-channel takeover campaign, which featured pro skiers, would have required much more planning and discussion.

Want to get all the action from Red Bull Cold Rush 2016 in Revelstoke Mountain Resort? Team Skiers Tatum Monod, Angel…

Posted by The North Face on Monday, February 1, 2016

4. Promote the takeover

Once you’ve planned a takeover, it’s a good idea to let people know about it.

If you’ve recruited top influencer talent, ask them to promote the takeover on their personal account. Depending on what you’ve agreed on, they can tease the content before and during the takeover on specified social platforms. Be sure they include your handle and/or hashtag when they do.

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A post shared by alexandra daddario (@alexandradaddario)

Just because the takeover is happening on Instagram doesn’t mean you should only promote it there. Take to Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and whatever channels seem relevant to let your audience know about it.

If you send a newsletter or run a blog, consider sharing it there as well.

Seattle Mariners social media takeover

If you’re teasing the takeover in advance, make sure to include the date and time they should tune in—especially if your takeover is an ephemeral Story or Snap.

If it’s not time-sensitive, on Instagram you can highlight the takeover as well. If it’s on Snapchat, be sure to take screen captures, and a video that you can post on YouTube or elsewhere.

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A post shared by Vermont Womenpreneurs (@vtwomenpreneurs)

5. Track your success

No social media takeover is complete without a review of its performance. Different metrics will be more important than others, depending on your takeover goals.

Use the analytics tools at your disposal (most platforms offer metrics for businesses) to measure follower growth, engagement rates, views, click-through-rates, and more.

If your host posted content on their accounts, ask them to share their metrics as well.

Be sure to document your success, especially when it comes to content that expires. Learn from what worked and what didn’t so that your next social media takeover will be even more of a success.

Use Hootsuite to manage your next social media takeover. Publish to all major social channels from the same dashboard, respond to comments and messages, and track your campaign’s success. Try it free today.

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