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In the early 2010s, brands were still trying to figure out how to use social media effectively and the playing field was much more level as a result. You could post just about anything to any platform and expect to get thousands or tens of thousands of views and likes, shares, and followers.
They were the halcyon days of social media marketing, back when it was new, exciting, and different. It opened up a world of possibilities for brands, for content creators, and for regular, ordinary people. People didn’t understand how it worked yet, and that’s what made it interesting.
Those days are in the distant past. Fast forward to the 2020s. Most of the major social media platforms are so oversaturated by both users and content that gaining any traction on any of them as a new brand is virtually impossible unless you already know what you’re doing.
It benefits your brand in no way to just howl into the void – to just post content without anyone either seeing or engaging with it. That’s what most brands do when they’re just entering the world of social media. With that being the case, there are still possibilities for your brand to attract a new audience of dedicated followers who are in love with your product or service and tell everyone they know about it.
So how do you finally start breaking through the noise? Get someone who already has an audience to do it for you instead.
This is what is known as a social media takeover. It’s a tried-and-true strategy used by Fortune 500 companies that has been proven to work.
Here are 5 big benefits you can get from a social media takeover, complete with examples.
1. Increased brand awareness
Partnering with an influencer with a highly engaged audience is a great way to put your brand in front of the people most likely to enjoy your product.
They don’t even have to be celebrities like Michael Jordan or Miley Cyrus. They can be influencers with just a few thousand followers who consistently engage with them and trust what they say. These are known as micro-influencers, and you shouldn’t underestimate their value, as long as they are related to your niche or the product or service you’re trying to promote.
It’s not just new brands that can benefit from the increased exposure of a takeover either. They can also be strategic and lucrative for global and established brands launching a new line of products or services but figuring out how to connect with the right people.
Case in point:
Walmart/Star Wars Takeover
In 2015, Walmart was planning on stocking a line of exclusive, collectible gold trading card game discs to capitalize on the hype for Star Wars Force VII: Force Awakens, which was due to release later that year.
The problem? It was 2015. Nobody bought discs anymore because everything was becoming increasingly digital. The company had reported a continuous drop in DVD sales as well as the sales of physical game copies.
Image Source: Twitter
So rather than shell out for a celebrity endorsement, Walmart partnered with an influencer marketing agency to find 10 influencers with audiences of varying sizes – and who were known for their love of the Star Wars franchise. These influencers were then asked to promote the Walmart gold disc giveaway with the hashtag #ShowUsYourForce.
The result? A resounding success.
99% new customers were reached. The posts themselves made upwards of 343K+ engagements. They were able to reach audiences who didn’t typically shop at Walmart, dramatically lift sales of the discs, and repurpose the user-generated content from the campaign on their channels later.
2. Stronger brand trust
Social media marketing is about authenticity. It’s about building a relationship with your customer in a way that makes your brand feel relatable like a person.
People use social media as a way to build relationships – with their friends, their favorite celebrities, and their favorite brands.
Social media takeovers – choosing an influencer that’s the right fit for your brand – are a perfect way of demonstrating to your audience that you understand what they want.
Take the case of Weight Watchers:
Weight Watchers regularly invites its employees and the members of its weight loss program to take over its Instagram for a day and share their weight loss journey. They post the content on Weight Watchers’ Instagram and forums.
These aren’t celebrities or even influencers with big followings. These are ordinary people like the kind you might find walking down the street who happen to be members of the Weight Watcher’s program. Many of the takeovers are done by Weight Watchers employees themselves.
Image Source: Weight Watchers @WW
They share their stories. Their secrets. Their feelings. Their strategies. Their exercise routines. Even their weight loss recipes.
They share their accomplishments and how they reach them. They talk about their struggles, their progress, and their little successes.
It makes Weight Watchers feel real, empathetic, and relatable. And it works. The takeover posts routinely get hundreds or thousands of likes and comments.
3. Build new relationships
I established before that the oversaturation of social media platforms makes it prohibitively difficult for new brands to break ground. Consumers are also increasingly distrustful of traditional forms of advertising.
That means that you don’t get more social media followers by promoting your own brand or just reposting content from your own site. You do it by building relationships.
If the collaboration is successful and provides value to both you and the content creators involved, then there’s no reason that the relationship can’t be ongoing.
Influential entrepreneur and social media marketer, Gary Vee, writes on the subject of social media takeovers and says;
“These takeovers are not only fun but are also a great example of a 50/50 value exchange – a partnership that’s mutually and equally beneficial.”
4. Reach new audiences
You probably already have some well-defined buyer personas of your own, even before doing a takeover. However, partnering with an influencer could introduce you to a new audience that you may not be aware of.
Takeovers are a good opportunity to audit your profiles and reevaluate whether the content you post reflects the needs and pain points of your audience. It’s also a great way to expand into new markets and gain exposure to new followers.
Are you opening up a brick-and-mortar location in a new part of town? Are you a plumbing business opening up a home repair branch? Or a clothing line trying to figure out how to appeal to the millennial market?
Chicago Bulls/Bud Light
The Chicago Bulls are a world-famous basketball team known for having had Michael Jordan – widely regarded as the best basketball player who ever lived – as their star player. The Bulls are as synonymous with the city of Chicago as The Blues Brothers, Deep Dish Pizza, Wrigley Field, and the giant mirrored bean at Millennium Park.
Back in 2017, the Chicago Bulls partnered with Bud Light, who sponsored the team that season, and together they wanted to promote Bud Light’s new line of Chicago Bulls-branded beer cans.
Image Source: NBA.com
To do this, they partnered with local photographers and artists like Chuck Anderson to take photos of the team’s endgame shots and upload them to the Bull’s IG account every evening. Later, the photographers were asked to take pictures of the Bud Light cans with the Bulls’ logo at famous, historic Chicago landmarks.
The result? Engagement skyrocketed. The Instagram posts routinely reached over 50,000 likes. The campaign helped both the Bulls and Bud Light prove to their audience that they understood the city and what makes it special by collaborating with people in the local creative community.
“For us, it’s huge because it’s creating a connection between the city of Chicago and the Bulls,” the team’s digital director said in an interview after the campaign drew to a close. “Re-establishing a connection between the city of Chicago and the Bulls is really important to us.”
5. User-generated content
Creating content is expensive. Really expensive. And it’s not just expensive – it’s also time-consuming to do well.
Influencers are professionals at making high-quality content. Social media takeovers are a great way to leverage that talent and content and make it yours.
Your own audience is already talking about your product or service at this very moment. Why would you pay a cameraman or a photography studio hundreds or thousands of dollars when you can deal directly with the people who already love your brand and use their content for free?
Using user-generated content produced by influencers is a great way to consistently source high-quality content. It’s photos and text that have been proven to be engaging for your own followers. When the takeover is over, you’ll likely be left with a lot of unused text and photos that can be put to better use.
After the takeover ends, see if you can arrange with the influencer and ask to repurpose their content on your own channels. If you’re a small business or a startup, you can offer them free content and cross-promotion in return for using their content if you want to sweeten the deal.
Social media takeovers are a proven strategy to increase your brand exposure, build trust with your followers, introduce your brand to new followers, and source high-quality content.
Some of the benefits of a social media takeover include:
- Increased brand awareness
- Stronger brand trust
- New relationships built
- New audiences reached
- User-generated content acquired
Have you ever hosted a social media takeover before? What content creators did you partner with? What were the goals and expectations, and what were the results? Tell us below in the comments!
Guest author: Matt Bentley is the Marketing Lead at Sniply, and the founder of CanIRank? and Growth AI. He’s passionate about helping startups and online businesses grow online.