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Why (and How) You Should Host a Social Media Takeover

by Jessica Lawlor

Let’s start with a fact you already know and simply can’t ignore.

With a global usership in the millions, social media is an extremely effective and important tool to help your brand connect with its target audience.

The obvious upside to adding social media to your marketing repertoire? It puts you in front of an expansive reach of existing and potential customers at little cost.

The downside? You’re not alone. Competition on social is fierce.

Not only are you competing for your audience’s attention with other companies in your industry, you’re also competing with Aunt Marge’s vacation photo album. (Read more on how Facebook’s latest algorithm shift prioritizes posts from friends and family over those from Pages.)

The only hope for brands on social media is to get creative with your strategy.

A great way to do so without going insane trying to churn out original content? Host a social media takeover.

What is a social media takeover?

A social media takeover is when you enlist an influencer in your market to help promote your brand message by giving them full access to control your brand social media accounts.

Essentially, you hand over the reigns to this person, allowing them to post what they want, when they want and how they want (within predefined parameters that protect your company, of course) within a short period of time.

Here’s a personal and timely example: Last month, I completed a social media takeover for a local tourism office here in the Philadelphia region where I live. The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board hosted me in town for a weekend and handed over the keys to their Instagram account to share my visit. Throughout the weekend, I posted photos, utilized Instagram stories and interacted in real time with the brand’s fans, answering questions and responding to their comments.

The takeover was a win-win for both myself and the brand. Here’s why.

Why is a social media takeover valuable?

It expands your reach

Hosting a social media takeover gives you access to an entirely new audience you may never have reached otherwise.

Think about it: The influencer you choose to work with is going to tell their friends and social following about your company, and they’re going to share your brand handle and hashtags before, during and even after the takeover.


It provides you with new content

On top of your expanded reach, you’ll get access to new content that you can share and repost as much as you’d like.

An influencer is going to talk about your brand the way a regular customer would, giving you invaluable insight into consumer behavior that can influence your marketing and sales strategies for years to come.

How to plan and implement a social media takeover

1. Define your goals and objectives

Before you decide who to work with, it’s important to hash out the details of what you’d like to accomplish.

What are your metrics for success: Increase in followers? Higher engagement rate? Clicks to your website?

Once you have your goals and objectives settled, start to work out some of the takeover details.

What platform would work best for what you want to accomplish, Instagram? Snapchat? The more visual platforms tend to work best.

2. Narrow down your influencer pool

If this is the first time you’ve considered a social media takeover, you may need to do a little research to figure out who to enlist to help you.

Don’t automatically assume that your first choice will be interested. It’s much better to have a small selection of potential influencers so you can find the best fit for your takeover.

Narrow your selection pool down to your top 3-5 and start reaching out.

Keep in mind: The influencer you choose doesn’t have to have millions of followers. Instead, you may choose a “micro-influencer” — a blogger or social media personality with a smaller yet still highly engaged audience in your niche. Quality over quantity.

Once you’ve narrowed down your pool, you’ll also need to decide if you have a budget for this particular takeover, or if you’ll be offering your chosen influencer product or a comped experience or visit in exchange for their work.

3. Set your timeline

Before finalizing who you’d like to work with, you need to figure out the timing of your takeover.

Should it be during the work week or over the weekend? Will it last for 24 hours or an entire week? Would you like to host it this month or next quarter?

For example if the takeover is for a destination like the experience I shared above, a weekend likely makes the most sense. If your takeover is for a concert or conference, you’ll obviously need to hold it before or during the event.

4. Define your parameters

No matter how good your influencer is, you should never turn over the reigns completely with absolutely zero guidance.

By laying down some firm ground rules up front, you can ensure that your goals will be met and you will actually make life easier for the influencer.

There are the obvious things to address, such as the use of vulgar language or media, but think about the details, too.

Should the influencer introduce themselves in their first post? What hashtags and brand handles should they include in their posts? Are they allowed to post selfies or photos of their friends?

The more you can decide up front and share with the influencer ahead of time, the better.

5. Market your takeover

You don’t want your social media followers to hear about your takeover for the first time as it’s happening. Give them some warning!

Start teasing the takeover to your social followers a week or so in advance to build buzz. Cross-promote your social media takeover on your other owned marketing channels, such as your newsletter, website or blog.

Be sure to mention the name and handle of the influencer you’re working with to show them some love — they’ll appreciate you for it and be more likely to work with you again in the future.

6. Turn over the keys

Now that you’ve laid out all the details of your takeover and secured your influencer, it’s time to let the magic happen!

Well in advance of the takeover, set your social media password to something you’re comfortable sharing with someone outside of your brand (you will want to change it back immediately following the takeover). Then, share those credentials and any others that will be useful with your selected influencer.

By now, you should’ve also shared your ground rules and communicated some of your goals and objectives with your selected influencer so you are both on the same page.

7. Analyze your results

After the takeover ends, your work is far from over! How do you know if your goals were met?

Take an audit of your social media account before and after the takeover. Did you increase followers like you wanted to? Has your post engagement improved? Were your followers generally positive towards the posts from the influencer?

This is an important step, especially if you’re considering doing another social media takeover in the future. Determine what worked (and what didn’t) so you can tailor your approach for next time.

A social media takeover is a creative way for brands to reach audiences in ways never before possible. They offer your followers a behind-the-scenes look into your business from a customer’s perspective, and they take some of the pressure off of you when it comes to creating unique and engaging content.

When managed properly, a social media takeover can have a huge impact, both on brand perspective and your bottom line.

Have you hosted a successful social media takeover before? Share your favorite strategies with us on Twitter.

Photo by David on Unsplash

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About Jessica Lawlor

Jessica Lawlor is the president and CEO of Jessica Lawlor & Company (JL&Co), a specialty communications agency focused on content management and creation, public relations and digital marketing. She blogs at JessicaLawlor.com about getting gutsy: Stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy.

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