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How to Orchestrate a Social Media Takeover from Scratch


By Will Schmidt

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

With about 30 percent of the Earth’s population on social media, there’s no question that it has a serious influence on our lives. In the hands of your nonprofit, social media is a powerful tool to raise brand awareness, promote events, and engage your community. Still, it can be challenging to find new ways to expand and strengthen your following.

One popular strategy is to leverage the public to take your efforts further through a social media takeover. With the help of a recruited individual, or organization, who “takes over” your social media account for an allotted period of time, you can:

  • Engage with new audiences
  • Build your nonprofit brand awareness
  • Reinvigorate current supporters
  • Borrow the influence of social media heavy hitters

To hit pay dirt with a social media takeover, establish a clear-cut plan that outlines your motivation for hosting, the people you’ll work with, and strongest social channel to use. Here are some tips on how to get started.

Define Your Motivation

The cornerstone of your social media takeover is your “why,” or the motivation behind it. Always set clear goals and expectations before getting started. Forgetting this step would be like getting in the car for a road trip without directions to your destination.

Defined goals focus your strategy for the social media takeover. They support the creation of precise and engaging content designed to drive more support from your community. To provide this definition, ask yourself:

  • Why do we want to host a social media takeover?
  • What does our nonprofit stand to gain?
  • What kind of content—video, photo, live Q&A—are we most suited for?
  • How do we keep the takeover in-line with our nonprofit mission?

These questions influence what archetypal person you’ll choose to take over your account, as well as which social media platform works best. It’s a chicken or an egg question: do I choose the person first, or the platform first?

Truthfully, it doesn’t matter as the two aren’t entirely codependent. The important part is determining your motivation first, that’s what informs the rest of your decisions.

Find the Right Fit

A secure fit for your social media takeover hinges on what archetype of person you choose to work with more than the actual person themselves. That is, it’s not always about getting the biggest name in the business—it’s more about selecting a relevant name.

Sometimes it’s better to forego the celebrity for a lesser known industry expert. Celebrities have massive social media followings, but they sometimes lack the depth of knowledge an expert provides.

Also, set content expectations for your social media takeover. You dictate what kind of content you want, and the person taking over creates that content. The content decision factors back into your motivation and, in turn, affects what person and platform you choose.


An influencer is any person who is well-connected and looked to for advice, direction, knowledge, and opinions. Influencers can be:

  • C-level executives
  • Journalists
  • Academics
  • Industry experts
  • Professional advisors
  • Celebrities

They’re a good choice for social media takeovers because you get access to their reputation, credibility, and personal social media following. For example, if your nonprofit recruits a prominent CEO, like Richard Branson, you can leverage their following to engage a new audience segment.

Since you want everybody to be aware of the takeover well in advance, heavily promote the person you select. Encourage them to promote, on their respective network, that they’ll be taking over your social account as well. You want as many eyeballs on your social media page when the event happens.

Influencers are the archetype most organizations immediately think of for a social media takeover. However, don’t overlook the people involved with your work on a daily basis. Your employees also have valid, powerful opinions.


Employees at your nonprofit, most likely, have social media followings of their own. While the idea of working with an influencer might seem more exciting, remember to revisit the “why” of your takeover. To expand your reach in an authentic way, it will often make more sense to leverage the expert opinion of those directly involved in your nonprofit.

When you put the reins in the hands of an individual employee, you give your audience a chance to see your nonprofit through the eyes of the people who work continuously to keep it alive. If you want to take this sentiment one step further, you should also consider using your supporters for your social media takeover as well.


Aside from being a great way to thank them for the support, a social media takeover is an opportunity for an individual follower to share what your work means to them. After all, they’re the ones backing your nonprofit mission, usually with money.

This shows current and potential new supporters that you value the thoughts and opinions of your community enough to let them shape your messaging. That level of trust is sure to inspire others to join your cause.

Get Set Up and Select an Account

Regardless of who you choose to host your social media takeover, you need to pick a social media platform. Each one has distinct benefits—there’s no wrong answer here.

However, it’s best to give your host control of only one account for the takeover. Otherwise, it could get messy and detract from the quality of the content they promote.

Pro Tip
No matter which medium you use, make sure to create a specific hashtag for your takeover. It will help people easily find and participate in the conversation, and you can aggregate all content post-takeover with one search.


Where Facebook takes the gold above all else is in sheer numbers. They have more users than any other social media platform.

According to the US consumer panel from comScore, Facebook averages just over 1,000 minutes per visitor per month. Further, it has almost 100 percent reach saturation among millennials (individuals age 18 to 34).

Pair that with the fact that it supports video, photo, text, and live stream content and it’s beyond a solid option for your social media takeover. Yet, while Facebook is highly used, it does fall a little short when it comes to interaction rates. No social platform holds a candle to Instagram in that regard.


According to a report from Smart Insights, “Instagram absolutely dominates when it comes to interactions per 1,000 followers.” Further, Instagram captures around 300 minutes per month from 62 percent of all millennials.

What is it about Instagram that’s so engaging? Speeli says it’s because:

  • Instagram is extremely easy to use
  • People share photos on Instagram they wouldn’t on Facebook
  • There’s a low cognitive load associated with consuming pictures

Think of Instagram as a way to literally showcase your nonprofit through the eyes of your host. This visual-driven content will also live on your page well beyond the end of your social media takeover.

You run into slight trouble with Instagram when it comes to interacting with your audience in real time. But that’s where Twitter excels.


Twitter’s real time engagement and interaction makes it a prime candidate for live question and answer events. However, across almost all data sets Twitter ranks in the bottom half of engagement statistics.

This platform captures just over 50 percent of the millennial demographic, and about 175 minutes of engagement a month from them. While they’re ranked behind Facebook and Instagram in the data set, they do pull ahead in other key areas important for businesses.

Of all Twitter users, 49 percent follow brands or companies. In comparison, only 16 percent of other social network users follow brands of companies.

Brand engagement is what you’re aiming for with your social media takeover. For that reason alone, you can’t ignore Twitter. And for that reason alone, you also have to pay close attention to Snapchat.


Snapchat ranks lower on the user totem pole with only 26 million users. Yet this younger platform has seen considerable growth in the last few years, and what’s kept it growing is its adoption among millennials.

About 58 percent of college students in the US would purchase a brand’s product or service if they received a special offer on Snapchat. For your nonprofit, that could mean increased engagement on a call to action to donate.

Pro Tip
Snapchats disappear after a set amount of time. Make sure your host remembers to download their snaps to their device so you can repurpose them for later use.


After you’ve set up your social media takeover plan, the last thing on your list is to promote the takeover as much as possible. Drive hype and excitement by spreading word across all of your social networks, not only the one that’s being taken over, as well as email. Reach as many of your supporters as possible, the earlier the better.

When the social media takeover is wrapped up, extend its life by recapping it for people who might have missed the event. Write a blog post about its success, repurpose content on your other social media pages, and publicize it across your newsletter.

A takeover is a fun event, so remember to have fun doing it. That ensures everybody participating and watching has a good time as well. When you host your own social media takeover, let Classy know and we’ll be sure to follow along!

About 30 percent of Earth’s population uses social media, and it’s a powerful tool for your nonprofit to raise brand awareness, promote events, and engage your community. Learn how to host a social media takeover and leverage the public to take your efforts to new heights.

The BIG Guide to Social Media for Nonprofits

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