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How to run a Twitter takeover

12 March 2021

Twitter takeovers can give your audience a behind the scenes peek into charity work. How does a day in the life of a palliative care nurse look? What is it like to manage a charity shop? For us, takeovers are a way to celebrate our amazing staff and volunteers by giving them the opportunity to use our account to tell their own stories and answer all these questions.

We first started our takeovers inspired by the NHS account, which used to be curated every week by a different person working for or being treated by the NHS. As a charity providing palliative, neurological and bereavement support, we cover a wide remit and the takeovers were an excellent opportunity to showcase areas of our work our supporters might not be familiar with.

Having agreed on what we wanted to achieve; our next step was to find potential curators with as much variety as possible. To ensure that the curators would be confident using Twitter, we started by approaching staff members or volunteers we knew were already active on the platform and using it to talk about their jobs.

Even if it’s just for a day, giving up control of your carefully curated social media accounts can be a daunting prospect. Those fears are natural and the best way to tackle them is to put in place a robust process for selecting and briefing the curators. It’s important to set clear guidelines (timelines, goals, and rules) before letting a curator take over, so they know exactly what to expect and don’t feel overwhelmed, ensuring there are no unwanted surprises for either party. We first email the curators in advance with an agreement with basic rules to follow (nothing offensive or political, no private conversations, not changing the password, etc.) and a call to go over these, plan a general outline of themes and answer any questions.

Good promotion in advance of takeover day is crucial to guarantee the takeover’s success, so in the run-up to the day, we advertise it across all our networks, both external and internal and encourage the curator to do the same. On the day of the takeover, we send our Twitter password to the curator and then take a step back and enjoy a day of great, engaging content.

Of course, we are always a phone call away from our curators in case anything comes up. We also monitor the takeover to ensure that everything goes smoothly and alert the curator if they miss any questions from our followers or forget to share any important content we had prepared beforehand. Finally, at the end of a curator’s session, we change our login details to keep the account safe.

The following day we collate the tweets in a Twitter Moment, allowing the takeover to be revisited at any time. When analysing the data, we’ve found that the number of impressions and engagements on a takeover day can at least triple the monthly average.

Here’s an example of one of our Takeovers.

Here are some top tips from our experience running takeovers:

  1. Make sure that the curator is confident and proficient in using Twitter.

    It’s important to choose curators who are familiar with its basic functions (quote tweet, threads, etc.)

    If the curator doesn’t feel 100% confident with the technical aspects of the takeover, we would encourage them to practice from their personal account as much as possible and come to us with any questions, then pick it up again with them when they feel more confident.
  2. Choose the takeover day carefully

    It should be a day when the curator is not swamped with meetings and work, but also a day when enough is going on to tweet about.

    On occasions, we timed the takeover with an awareness day related to the curator’s role, which helped maximise reach and engagement. We also found it useful to include the curator’s manager in the conversations before the takeover, so they are aware that the curator won’t be able to do as much work as usual during the day.
  3. Make sure that the curator will be tweeting from their phone

    Our first curator used a desktop computer to tweet, which limited the amount of content they were able to share. It is important to make them aware that, ideally, all tweets should include an image/video clip to increase the likelihood of engagement.
  4. Plan content so the curator always has something to tweet about

    Our experience is that polls work really well for engaging with the audience and testing their knowledge on more complicated topics. Having relevant infographics and visual resources prepared beforehand is also a great way to ensure there’s enough to tweet about.

    Content can also include general facts about the charity, their place of work, and light-hearted tweets about the curator’s personal life or interviews with other members of their team.

Takeovers have allowed us to reach new audiences, increase social media engagement, build brand awareness and drive web traffic. They have been a fantastic way of improving our audience’s understanding of what we do as a charity, opening up a direct dialogue between our frontline workers and our supporters.

If you want to learn more about engaging with your audiences join us for The new rules of audience engagement Conference.

For more social media tips check out Making your social media accessible.

Image: Pixabay on Pexels

Irene Cantizano

Social media and content officer, Sue Ryder

Irene Cantizano is Sue Ryder's Social Media and Content Officer. She has seven years of experience working in communications in the charity sector. As a content producer and social media expert, she is a big believer in the power of storytelling to connect with our audiences and spark change.