How to host a social media takeover

  • Last Updated : August 17, 2023
  • 10 Min Read

With the number of social media users reaching almost 3.5 billion, it’s a tool that can both shape public opinion and drive action. For marketers, this is a great opportunity. No matter how niche your target audience is, you’ll find them on social media. And that means using social media can put you in front of millions of potential customers, at little financial cost.

But you’re not going to be alone. All your competitors are on social media as well, and you’ll have to compete with them for your audience’s attention. To succeed, you’re going to have to be creative with your strategy.

While you may have put in a lot of work developing, executing, and fine-tuning your plan, and spent a lot of time building your profiles on various social channels, a takeover is something you probably haven’t tried yet.

The concept of a takeover is relatively new—it involves temporarily handing over your social media handle to an influencer or a domain expert, so they can post from your account, and engage your audience in their own style. Social media takeovers can benefit your brand in many ways. Let’s talk about some of these benefits, and then we’ll talk about ways to ensure that your takeover is a success.

Advantages of a social media takeover

Gaining followers

One of the biggest advantages of a social media takeover is that your brand can gain a lot of followers from it. When an influencer takes over your brand, they’re not just going to be making posts on your behalf—they’ll be promoting the takeover on their personal profiles, too. This means that your brand will be exposed to the influencer’s audience, as well as your own.

Building your brand

A social media takeover is like an endorsement from someone who’s influential in your field. Your influencer’s audience is going to have a certain level of trust in them, and a vote of confidence in your brand helps you gain some of this trust, too.

A good takeover is going to be raw, unpolished, and human. It’s going to look and feel authentic to your audience, and make them trust you more. This is a great way for your brand to build an image on social media.

Making connections

During a takeover, there’s no way for you to tell what kind of people you’re going to meet. You might be able to connect with other influencers who’d be perfect for your next promotion. You might meet other professionals in your industry that you can work with in the future. You might even find a business opportunity or market that you hadn’t even considered before.

Takeovers can work as a powerful networking tool if you keep your eyes open. Another great thing that you can do? Use the attention that’s created from the takeover to push people to your website, or to subscribe to your newsletter. This way, you can continue to grow these connections even after the takeover is finished.

How to run a social media takeover

Set a goal

Setting a goal is the first step to any social media campaign, and that applies to takeovers, as well. Setting a goal will give you a direction to work in when you start your campaign, and can help guide your actions on social media. Without a goal, it’s impossible for you to measure the success of your campaign.

When you set a goal, make sure you follow the SMART framework:

Specific: The more specific your goal is, the more sure you can be of the strategy you develop and the directions you take. This will make your goal a lot easier to achieve than setting a vague one. “Increase sales” is a better goal than “improve business.”

Measurable: Instead of having a goal like “increase sales,” try making it measurable. This will allow you to track the success of your campaigns a lot more accurately. For example, you could say “increase sales by 500 units.”

Achievable: When you set your goals, make sure you’re not setting something that’s impossible to achieve. Doing so will only set you up for failure.

Relevant: Always keep in mind that your social media activities don’t exist in a vacuum. You may want to increase your followers, but does that tie in with your overall business objectives? Always keep that in mind when you’re setting your goal.

Time-bound: And finally, keep your goals time-bound. Setting a deadline can help you prioritize your plans and keep your team on track.

While you set your goal, it’s also important for you to decide which network the takeover is going to be on. Different networks have different formats, and so a Twitter takeover is going to be different from one on Instagram or Snapchat. Different networks have different requirements, as well. On Instagram, you might have to share your password with the influencer, but on Facebook, you could add them as an admin or moderator of your page and edit their permissions.

Find the right person for the takeover

Be sure not to rush this step—take as much time as you need to find the right person. Finding them can take a lot of time and work, but it’s extremely important. After all, the takeover is only going to be as good as your host.

Finding the right influencer isn’t really difficult, if you know exactly what you want. The general tips for this would be to first find a list of influencers who complement your brand’s social media voice. Filter this list and identify the ones whose followers are the kind of people that you want to target. Once you’ve narrowed the list down to this pool of potential influencers, you can spend a few days on each of their profiles and figure out what their style is, and how engaged their viewers are. Then, it’s just a matter of picking one with an engaged audience, and whose voice and style matches your own.

However, remember that it doesn’t always have to be an influencer who takes over your brand. Schools like LMH Oxford have had Snapchat takeovers that were run by some of their students. These instantly feel a lot more authentic, and are a great way to recruit new students. Oh, and it’s a lot less expensive than an influencer takeover, too!

Coordinate with the host of the takeover

Once you’ve decided who’s going to be taking over your social media channels, you’ll have to reach out to them to coordinate. Take some time and develop the campaign overview. Let the influencer know exactly what you want to achieve from this campaign, and go over your brand messaging with them.

If you want to promote specific events during the takeover, be sure that you provide the influencer with all necessary details, well in advance. Things like the date, time, location, and website are all crucial.

When you do this, however, keep in mind that the key to a successful takeover is authenticity, so you should avoid any overly scripted material and let the influencer do their thing.

Set a time and date for the takeover

Setting a date and time for the takeover is important, and will depend on a lot of factors. Ideally, you’d like to schedule it for a time when engagement is likely to be the highest. Ask yourself these questions before you settle on a date and time:

  • When is the influencer’s engagement the highest on their own social channels? Weekdays or weekends? Mornings or afternoons?
  • Where does their audience live? Make sure you consider the time zones before setting up a date and time.
  • Is there any event or product release that you can time the takeover around? It can then be useful in promoting the event or the product, as well.
  • A lot of this will also depend on the network that you’re on. User behavior is different on each network, and you’ll have to take this into consideration. You might also want to give yourself a couple of weeks to promote the takeover on your own channels.
  • Once you decide on a date and time, be sure to communicate it to your influencer, and ensure that they’re available.

Promote the takeover on your social channels

Once you know who’s taking over, and when, you’ll have to promote it so that people tune in.

Make sure you promote on all your social channels, not just the one that the influencer will be taking over. And remember to adjust and optimize your message for each of the social channels. For example, a short, fun message will do well on Twitter, while your Facebook post can be a little lengthier and detailed.

Ideally, you should be promoting the takeover often, in the days leading up to the takeover. You could invest in a social media management tool that will allow you to schedule content in advance, so that you can plan these posts out properly. You should also speak to your influencer and encourage them to promote the takeover on their own accounts.

Document your takeovers

On the day of the takeover, give your influencer access to the brand’s channel, and tune in and enjoy the show. While watching, make sure you take note of everything that’s happening. Is the influencer covering all the points that were provided to them? Are their activities generating good engagement ? Note down everything that goes well in the takeover, but also take note of things that can be improved for next time.

After the takeover, you can also consider repurposing it on other channels. Upload a recording of the takeover on your YouTube channel, or your website, or on other social channels. This will allow you to benefit from the takeover long after it’s done.

Our favorite takeovers

Mountain Dew Super Bowl takeover

For Super Bowl 2015, Mountain Dew partnered with social media influencers Jeremy Purpdrank, David Lopez, and D-Trix for a weekend-long Snapchat takeover campaign. This was to promote two new flavors for their Kickstart morning beverage.

This was an extremely unique and successful takeover program for two reasons. Firstly, the takeover itself was designed to drive engagement. Viewers could help influencers plan their Super Bowl party on Mountain Dew’s Snapchat, in real time. Meaning, there was a lot of incentive for fans of both Mountain Dew and the influencers to take part in this campaign.

Secondly, not only were the audience incentivized to engage, they were also asked to engage on multiple platforms. They were regulary allowed to make choices between two options for the party, and were asked to screenshot their choice and tweet it to Mountain Dew with #kickstart. This meant Mountain Dew was driving engagement on both Snapchat and Twitter, from just one takeover campaign.

Sergio Ramos Instagram takeover of Real Madrid

Sergio Ramos, one of Real Madrid’s most influential and popular players, took over the team’s Instagram account while the team was in Abu Dhabi. He spent the day giving fans access to the lives of players in the club—and the takeover was a day before the final of the Club World Cup in 2018.

It was a simple takeover that featured Sergio Ramos eating with his teammates, training in a gym, getting a pre-training massage, and having conversations with his teammates. The takeover merely capitalized on the excitement before the Club World Cup, to take fans behind the scenes and generate engagement on their Instagram profiles.

The club also made a great choice for the host. Deciding to take fans behind the scenes allowed them to use one of their own players for the takeover, which is a lot less expensive than hiring an influencer for a takeover campaign.

4) Sonic, Tails, Eggman, and Shadow Twitter takeover

After the release of Team Sonic Racing, voice actors Roger Craig Smith, Colleen O’Shaughnessey, Kirk Thornton, and Mike Pollock took part in a Twitter takeover of the Sonic the Hedgehog twitter account. They voiced Sonic, Tails, Shadow, and Dr. Eggman, respectively. They recorded audio answers to questions posed by fans on Twitter, with the hashtag #AskSonic.

The purpose of the takeover was specifically to create buzz around a game that had just released, and by allowing fans to ask questions and interact with these popular characters, the takeover achieved just that. In fact, this was actually the fourth time this takeover took place—these character takeovers were THAT popular among fans. There are even reddit threads where people discuss how much they loved them.

Why was this campaign especially popular? Because Twitter takeovers are almost never done like this. It usually involves a celebrity or an influencer taking over an account, and answering questions from it. Here’s an example where rapper Pusha T took over the Twitter account of streaming platform Tidal:

This was a good campaign for both parties, because Pusha T had music to promote, as well, and used the platform to do that. However, it was very similar in format to all of the other Twitter takeovers.

This is where Team Sonic won. By adding a creative twist to the takeover and letting fans interact with the fictional characters, they were able to create a lot of buzz around the game. This was not a traditional takeover at all, but the innovative nature of the campaign ensured that it was a massive success.

Hosting takeovers is a great way to achieve your social media goals, and can also turn out to be incredibly fun. If done right, it’s a sure-shot way to drive engagement to your brand’s social channels. Following these tips will help you ace takeovers, should you decide to try your hand at them.

If you have any questions, or if you’d like to add something to what we’ve written, leave a comment below, and we’ll be sure to get back to you!

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  • vishal.muralidharan

    Content writer at Zoho Social, stand up comedian, and lover of dogs. I read a lot.


  • allisonlewisphotography.comSeptember 20, 2020 at 9:29 AM

    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.

    • amruthavarshinii
      Amrutha VarshiniiMarch 16, 2021 at 8:23 PM

      Great points! Thanks for weighing in.


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