How to Host an Instagram or Snapchat Takeover: A Guide for Brands

Brands are no longer driving online conversations on their own. Companies are handing over the reins of social media accounts to let influencers share their stories. From NHL players taking over Twitter to host Q&A sessions with fans, to models sharing beauty tips on a makeup brand’s Instagram account, social takeovers are driving consumer engagement and broadening networks.

Social channel takeovers are a great way for brands and influencers to collaborate by cross-promoting content, while staying compelling and on brand. Whether it’s on Instagram or Snapchat, brands can foster a community, showcase company culture, or launch a new product.

To demonstrate what this looks like, our Account Managers Tina and Kellie took over 6S’s Instagram account with a live feed from Western Canada’s largest marketing conference, CIMC2017 – Change in the Making. They shared behind-the-scenes event happenings with our community of over 8,000 followers and connected with them on a more personal level.

In another takeover, our intern Vanessa showed us how a takeover is done on Snapchat. Vanessa is completing her Masters in Professional Communications at Ryerson University and was asked to take over Ryerson ProCom’s account. Complete with a custom geo-filter featuring her very own Bitmoji, she shared a day in the life of an intern at 6S.

A Snapchat takeover for Ryerson University

As you can see, social channel takeovers present the opportunity to use specific themes or targeted content to start a conversation, spark new followers, and inspire current followers to re-engage and be more active. With this, it may not be sustainable to create all original content, all the time. Working with external influencers to craft curated messages for your channels will help alleviate that pressure and also provide more content variety.

Are you interested in planning your own social channel takeover? Follow our step-by-step guide to takeovers, and tailor our best practices to fit your brand’s program.

1. Define your objectives

Before you begin, consider why your brand is running a takeover. Establish the overall goals for your takeover and what you hope to achieve. Your organization may want to:

  • Publicize a product launch or upcoming event
  • Acknowledge team members and promote your employer brand
  • Show a human side of your company
  • Share high-perfoming user-generated content (UGC)

Start by establishing some benchmarks; look at your top performing posts to date and make a note of the analytics. Next, use that data to determine benchmarks and set expectations for your takeover.

2. Select the right ambassador for your takeover

Align your brand with a host who contributes to your company’s desired goals. This is someone who will foster authenticity and engage your brand through external and diversified content that offers a good balance to your intended audience. A successful takeover of a brand account can be hosted by:

  • An influencer, such as a blogger or niche industry expert
  • An ambassador, customer, or employee

In the first example, a brand can leverage an influencers’ audience to promote a message with custom and collaborative content. Many brands have successfully run takeovers, including Estee Lauder, Madewell, Sony, Bud Light, Chobani, and Victoria’s Secret.

In the second instance, an influencer is not required — instead, think behind-the-scenes at your company. Letting a team member share their perspectives on your brand’s social accounts will allow your followers to interact with more people from your organization. Plus, their voice can make your brand more human and relatable.

To find the right social media star, you need to do more than simply review vanity metrics, such as number of followers. To determine if an Instagrammer or Snapchatter is a good fit for your brand, we recommend watching their stories, assessing their audience engagement across other channels, and reviewing the demographics of their audience – you’ll want to ensure they’ll build meaningful relationships with your audience.

3. Decide on the platform: Instagram or Snapchat?

Which networks are your target customers on? When choosing the channel for the takeover, think about your audience and where they spend most of their time. Build a social takeover strategy that reflects this. Keep in mind, it’s also important to find a social-savvy takeover partner that has a creative approach to imagery and storytelling.

Instagram tends to have a higher engagement rate than Snapchat, assuming it’s the right platform for your brand. Currently, Snapchat does not have a method for users to easily discover new channels. However, the platform is still an effective way for brands to grow followers and gain exposure to an influencer’s existing audience. Also, Snapchat’s storytelling format lends itself well to covering events and announcements. Many companies are now using the platform’s short, compelling videos to give audiences an exclusive experience that would otherwise be impossible to create.

4. Consider the content

Each piece of content your takeover partner creates should serve a purpose. Questions to think about:

  • Are you looking to entertain, persuade, or educate your audience?
  • Are you hoping to tap into your audience on an emotional or rational level?
  • Are you driving awareness or engagement?
  • What value can you add through your social content to help support your customers’ needs?
  • Do they have any expectations from you as a brand on social?

Your audience may be looking for you to share updates on your business, thought leadership, advice, and so on. Remember, each channel has certain types of content that perform best. Ensure images, video, and messaging are optimized for each channel.

Keep your organization’s overall social goals in mind when creating your content. It’s important to let your influencer have a say in the process. They’ll know the best types of content that will resonate with their audience to ensure you get the results that you’re looking for. Millennials especially prefer user-generated content – content generated by their peers. In fact, according to Crowdtap and Ipsos, UGC is 35% more memorable than other media, and 50% more trusted.

You may also want to incorporate a branded hashtag to organize content and track the campaign.

5. Establish the timeline for the takeover

Takeovers can last one day or multiple days depending on the purpose and channel. However, the promotion leading up to the takeover could be planned weeks in advance.

Not all takeovers will unfold live. Your influencer should submit content ahead of time for approval. There are also tools for you to schedule Instagram posts ahead of time, such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social.

Establish a process for brainstorming, content creation, approvals, and posting to social channels. Ensure you have enough time from content creation to review and approval before you go live with the takeover.

6. During the takeover

Monitor your channels closely during the rollout to make sure the partner’s message remains consistent with your brand. Record any engagement that occurs. Take screenshots of snaps and stories, and download the story. Keep in mind, both Snapchat and Instagram stories expire after 24 hours, so make sure you document the campaign.

Remember, to maximize the impact of your Instagram or Snapchat takeover. Be sure to promote on other channels, such as cross-posting on Twitter and Facebook, and encourage people to follow along!

Marketers understand that they need to provide tangible value to their customers, and content is one of the last mediums left to effectively do this. Successful marketers are opting to think like their consumers and deliver engaging content that creates a two-way conversation with their audiences.

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