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Today, we’re going to talk about what’s involved in running a takeover on your Twitter account. No, I’m not referring to hacking or hijacking, I’m talking about bringing a third party on-board – like a celebrity, client, or expert – to manage your Twitter presence.

Done right, this can be just what you need to increase your following and engagement on Twitter.  We’re here to ensure that you don’t do it wrong.

First, Ask Yourself: Why Run A Takeover?

At its core, the phrase “twitter takeover” is really just another way of saying you’re hiring a spokesperson to manage your twitter account. You’re bringing in someone to fill in with their knowledge, expertise, or presence, drawing their followers and fans to your account.  At this point, some of you are probably questioning how a takeover differs from simply hiring a marketing firm or publicist.

Simple: you’re bringing in an influencer not solely dedicated to marketing. You’re bringing in someone who isn’t directly affiliated with your brand, but still enjoys the products it produces. Essentially, it’s a form of brand advocacy – and a powerful one, at that.

“A well-known and well-respected celebrity will serve as a draw to your event or product,” writes Dary Bouzeos of Marketing Profs. “The right spokesperson will naturally attract media coverage, and [influencers] with a connection to a [particular issue] are helpful in educating and informing the public.”

Figure Out What Type Of Spokesperson You Want To Target

Step two is to work out what kind of spokesperson is the best fit for your brand. If you’re looking for pure exposure, then it might be best to bring on a celebrity – an athlete, actor, musician, or comedian. If, however, you’re looking to draw an audience based on knowledge, then you’re going to want an expert, someone who’s proven themselves to be well-informed about their industry. Finally, if you’re looking to improve relations with your clients and customers, it might be worth your while to let one of them take the helm of your Twitter account, if only for a while.

Wait For Them To Come To You

Once you figure out what sort of spokesperson you want on your Twitter account, the next step is to wait and watch. This might seem sort of counterproductive at first, but trust me – it’s the right choice to make. You want to find someone who actually loves your brand; someone who actually enjoys what your organization creates. This can be done by watching your Twitter feed and see who is talking about you.

If you are choosing an influencer or celebrity, it is best to contact them or their agent to see if they are interested.

“If people perceive that a person truly loves a brand, then they will likely see them as more of an advocate,” explains Broadside Consulting CEO Daniel Newman. “Conversely, if they believe that the person is working with a product strictly for the financial benefit, the message is weakened by more than five times, as the advocacy shifts back to the less trusted influencer.”

 

Don’t Force It – Make Sure They’re Right For The Job

Even if someone’s a brand advocate, that doesn’t mean they’re a good fit as a brand representative. Look at how they conduct themselves on social media – how do they converse with their friends and followers? How many people put stock in what they say? Are there any controversies directly related to them?

Handing the reins of your Twitter account over to the wrong person can have fairly disastrous results.

Establish A Voice

Once you’ve gotten an advocate on-board – and you’re certain they won’t engage in too many gaffes on your Twitter stream – your next step is to establish a clear voice for them. The key question you need to ask here is whether you’re going to have them represent themselves, or simply work behind the scenes and maintain your brand’s current voice. Which one your choose is entirely up to you, though if you’re going with the former, I’d advise announcing to everyone that you’ve got a new face working at your side – otherwise, your followers may find the change of voice and tone a bit too jarring.

“Your opinion is your personality. Your voice is your brand. I remind myself of that every single day, as I set out to tweet for 10 very different people,” writes celebrity social media manager Phil Pallen. “In my mind, I have characters for all my clients. I’m aware of the way they talk, comment, reply, and interact. I have a clear idea of their writing style, reoccurring sayings, punctuation, and capitalization. That makes it easier to switch back and forth, while managing to keep things consistent.”

Hammer Out A Content Plan

Together with your spokesperson, you need to hash out a content plan for your feed. What are they going to tweet about, and how are they going to tweet it? How will you handle current events and industry news? Responses to followers and fans?

“At the beginning of every month, I develop a content plan,” explains Pallen. “This forces me to conceptualize content, as a whole, rather than just working off of spontaneous inspiration. A combination of both make for a solid online brand. I make an effort to diversify what I share.”

Hold Regular Touchbases

Meet regularly with your spokesperson to ensure everything’s going as planned. Are they able to stick to your content plan? How has your Twitter feed improved since they came on board? Do they have any suggestions as to how you might improve?

This does not apply to all takeovers, as some may just happen for an hour or two. During this time it is good to make sure that you have contact with them though just in case something goes awry.

Learn From The Mistakes Of Others

I’ve always maintained that the best way to learn isn’t necessarily from your own mistakes, but by paying attention when others in your field stumble and fall. Ask yourself what they’ve done wrong – and more importantly, what you can do to avoid the same foibles that they fell prey to. Thankfully, Twitter provides a wealth of learning material that you and your spokesperson can tap into.

Generally speaking, you want to avoid:

  • Jumping on a trending hashtag without researching what it actually means. Noteworthy offenders: DiGiorno Pizza, Celeb Boutique.
  • Tweeting tone-deaf, clueless statements. Noteworthy offenders: Geraldo Rivera, Martha Stewart.
  • Deleting tweets that don’t go over well. Noteworthy offenders: Rita Ora.
  • Trying to hijack a sensitive, controversial event for your own gain. Noteworthy offenders: Entenmanns, Gap, Urban Outfitters, President’s Choice.
  • Kicking off a hashtag campaign without proper research. Noteworthy offenders: McDonald’s, The New York Police Department.

Track Your Progress

As with any other social media campaign, you need to track the progress of your Twitter takeover to ensure you’re making progress. You should already be making use of Twitter’s analytics anyway, really. Of course, if the core analytics tools aren’t quite extensive enough, there are plenty of alternatives, as well.

Don’t Forget: You Still Have To Manage Your Social Presence

Last, but certainly not least: don’t forget that hiring a spokesperson doesn’t mean your work is done. You still need to make sure your presence on Twitter meshes with your presence on other platforms. You still need to ensure that your brand advocate’s doing a good job running the show, and you may still need to step in now and then when they don’t have the time to manage your account on their own.