The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media Takeovers

Kierstyn Schneck
November 14, 2018

As a marketer, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind before you hand over the keys to your social channels to a special guest.

Takeovers are a big event, and with the right takeover guest, they can create a sense of urgency around your brand or product and help you reach a bigger audience than ever before. A successful takeover, however, is not just a matter of hiring a big-name celebrity and having them create a couple of posts. Here is a down-and-dirty list to consider when pursuing a social media takeover. 

Have a goal in mind.

Takeovers are fun, sure, and certainly a well-used tactic to add to your bag of social media tricks. But before you jump on the takeover bandwagon, make sure you have specific, measurable goal in mind. It will also help you decide on who exactly will have the honor of entertaining or informing your audience during the takeover.

Case in point? When Australian alternative band Northeast Party House took over a live music venue’s Instagram, they jokingly announced in one of their posts that Radiohead was set to perform at the Australian venue in the spring. The result? A lot of confusion and a post quickly taken down.

There are a few places that this went wrong. This campaign was not promoted enough, so followers didn’t know that the post was part of an Instagram takeover. It ended up missing the mark, and an opportunity was lost. In cases like these, you have to ask: what was the goal? It was a funny prank, sure. But did it actually help them win over an audience? Quite the opposite, in fact. 

Bigger is not always better.

Depending on your goal, your takeover could be hosted by:

If you are looking to have an influencer takeover, remember: follower numbers alone do not make for a perfect takeover guest. Common sense would dictate that you would want to choose the person with largest audience to get your brand in front of as many eyeballs as possible. But going for the many doesn’t mean you’re reaching the right people who will ultimately pay attention and engage with your story.

A good example is Sephora’s use of micro-influencers as makeup experts who create how-to tutorials and explain Sephora products in engaging Instagram stories.

Millennials especially aren’t turning to huge celebrities when they research products or services—they turn to their social media network peers and so-called micro-influencers. Just take a look at Variety magazine’s survey about U.S. teenagers’ top influencers. They found that YouTube stars were ranked much higher as influencers than mainstream celebrities, based on approachability and authenticity.

To sum it up: think strategically about who your audience is and choose an influencer accordingly. Hint: it’s not always going to be the a-listers, no matter how much we love them. (Sorry, Rihanna.)

It’s all about balance.

Telling a story authentically and keeping true to your brand aesthetic doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war, but it is often where social media takeovers can go astray. Giving too little direction can risk hurting your brand image. But if you give too many limitations, the content can come off as scripted and will just be another ad, rather than valuable content with which your audience can engage.

Let’s take Weight Watchers as an example. While they curate some great user-generated content, their WW Stories can feel a little less authentic and more mass-produced under numerous guidelines. (But as a result, their brand aesthetic remains constant.) It’s all about finding the right balance—still engaging your audience but staying true to your brand image.

Creating a framework is key to managing your expectations for a takeover. Set up a timeline, have a plan in place for your posts, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Try different content: video, gifs, graphics, photography… you won’t know what resonates most with your audience if you don’t test it.

As you decide on what type of content you want the takeover guest to share, keep in mind that certain channels will be better avenues. Between Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram, YouTube, or something else, choose the right channel for your audience and for your story. No matter what channel you choose, remember to promote the takeover across all your channels. There are many places where a takeover can go wrong, but the worst is creating a killer takeover campaign and not having an audience to see it. So promote, promote, promote.

Otherwise, you might break hearts in Australia all over again.

(Sorry again, Radiohead fans.)