Understanding social media takeover

Understanding social media takeover

Social media marketing has been an effective way to connect brands with their target audience. Brands reach out to millions of people for very little cost. That’s why everyone is doing it and the competition is fierce. Outperforming the competition on social media requires brands to be creative in how they go about grabbing the audience’s attention. Enter social media takeover, a form of influencer marketing in which an organization enlists an influencer to manage its social media account for a set period of time.

Brands allow the chosen social media influencer to manage their account, post whatever they want and whenever they want (some ground rules are decided beforehand, predefined parameters).

The benefits of a social media takeover

  • Reach new audience: Both the brand and the influencers are introduced to each other’s audiences, giving them greater visibility and reach into previously untapped viewership.
  • Increased engagement: Influencers know how to create content that engages the audience which may be very different from what the brand’s audience usually expects on their account.
  • Building a brand: A social media takeover gives the brand a personality and humanizes the brand if the chosen influencer can personify the brand and its ideas.
  • Driving traffic: Social media takeovers generate a lot of attention on social media as both the brands and influencer’s audience engage with the content created during the takeover which brands can then direct to their website.
  • Interesting content: The host for the social media takeover will create relevant content and present the brand in their own voice, providing a real-life experience of the brand.

How to plan and execute a social media takeover

Let’s walk through a step-by-step process of planning and executing a successful social media takeover.

Set goals and objectives

It is important to define the purpose of the social media takeover. What are you looking to accomplish with this activity? One of the above-mentioned benefits can be a good reason to do so.

Without a clear reason behind the task, the activity will not yield the best possible results. Set your metrics for success to let the takeover host know what is the expected outcome of the partnership.

Find a host

There is a variety of options to choose from when deciding the host for your social media takeover. Look at your objectives and decide what type of of host would be the most suitable. They should be someone you can trust because this strategy requires them to be in-charge of proceedings and they will most likely have to be given the login credentials

You can start with an employee, a customer or a social media follower. You may choose a famous celebrity or social media influencer. Some universities allow their students to takeover their social media from time to time. Let’s look at a few examples:

Celebrity takeover

Stride Gum collaborated with DJ Khaled (often referred to as the “King of Snapchat” with each of his snaps garnering 3 million views) to promote its new “Mad Intense Gum” to host a Snapchat takeover.

Influencer takeover

Sometimes, collaborating with a celebrity is not feasible. Brands choose to host a takeover with an influencer having a considerable following on their social media account. Eddie Bauer regularly collaborates with influencers to host social media takeovers.

Employee takeover

Flowers for Dreams is a Chicago based company selling and delivering flower bouquets. Their founder and CEO took over the company’s Snapchat for a day and gave everyone a sneak peek into the lives of the company’s employees.

Customer/ follower takeover

Calgary Stampede held a ran a campaign asking its followers to post pics with #InstaStampede for a chance to take over their Instagram account for a day. This is a great source of user-generated content and can be leveraged by adding a contest element.

Calgary Stampede


Tag your best Stampede pics with #InstaStampede to takeover our Instagram account for a day!




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Student takeover

The University of Cincinnati offers its current students opportunity to takeover its Snapchat account to engage its community of prospective students and other students.

It is important to note that there are different ways to go about choosing your host depending on your goal, budget, the availability of the host and similar factors. The intent is to create a quality experience for everyone involved.

Set expectations

Based on the goals that have been decided, pick a social media platform on which to host the takeover. It is important to set expectations and deliverables like:

  • Duration of a live session (if live streaming)
  • Number of posts/tweets/videos
  • Duration of the takeover
  • Guidelines for creating content and brand guidelines to be followed
  • Timeline of the campaign
  • Method/ form of payment for the chosen influencer

It is important to remember at this point that a takeover is being negotiated. It requires the brands to give up control in a lot of aspects. Micromanaging a takeover ultimately defeats the purpose. The more you can decide up front, the better it will be during the execution phase. Both parties will have a clear understanding of what is expected of them for the duration of the takeover and its aftermath.

Grant necessary permissions

Again, it can’t be emphasized enough but a takeover means passing control to someone else. Sometimes, that can mean credentials of the account, the passwords and admin rights.

Once the scope of the campaign is decided, it’s time to grant the required permissions. For instance, in a Facebook Live, the host will be granted access to the page as a Live Contributor. For Instagram posts, passwords may not be necessary if the content is designed and delivered in advance but for Stories, passwords may be required.

This step of the process depends on the requirements of your specific takeover. The best thing to do is change the account’s password to something you can share with the host and change it back immediately after the takeover.

Create a buzz around the takeover

Announce to your followers on social media about the upcoming takeover with a shout out to the host. Create a buzz around the collaboration in advance will increase engagement during the takeover. Promote the takeover on all your social media channels and other information channels in your organization as well.

This is the part where the host can create an introduction post for your account and announce it on their channels as well (this is decided during the time of the expectations setting). There are many ways to do this, for instance, look at this post announcing a takeover of the NYU admissions Instagram channel:

Analyze your results

Once the takeover is done, look at your metrics and see if your goals were achieved. Conduct an audit of your social media account before and after the campaign and measure the difference.

This is a crucial step in determining whether social media takeovers can be used in the future. If yes, what worked and what did not work? This knowledge will ensure better results in the future

An amazing example of an Instagram takeover

Chicago Bulls Instagram takeover with Bud Light

Using #BullsIGTakeover, NBA franchise Chicago Bulls and their season sponsor Bud Light collaborated with photographers for an Instagram takeover. Photographers take control of the Bulls’ Instagram account for 2-3 games in a season. They click photos of the Bud Light can at different locations in the city and also do 8-10 posts during and after games.

The #BullsIGTakeover posts have accumulated over 2 million engagements and the Bulls team have made this a regular feature during the NBA season.

Final thoughts

Social media takeovers are a collaboration between two parties, a brand and an influencer. It means leveraging someone’s personal brand and connecting it with a company. It is essential to the success of such an endeavor that both parties work out a mutually beneficial arrangement based on trust.

A social media takeover is a creative way to reach out to audiences like never before. Such collaborations give businesses a fresh perspective and new energy. When executed right, it can have a lasting impact on your brand exposure.