Social Media Takeovers 101

Social media takeovers don’t work for every industry but they can be very helpful for some, higher-education included. To clarify, a takeover is when you hand over the keys to one of your social media platforms for the day (or half-day or however long you’d like – you make up the rules). For the college, we let students, faculty, and staff take over our Instagram stories and Snapchat accounts.

Over the course of the past three years, I’ve worked on improving our takeovers. Here is how I recommend you approach them:

  1. Identify what you want to get out of the takeover. More followers? Event promotion? Increased reach? Your primary goal may vary from takeover to takeover.
  2. Once you have identified your objective, find the right person to do the takeover. You may like person A but person B may help you achieve your specific goal better. Don’t default and simply choose someone whose photos you like or who has the most followers.
  3. Create and share a document with official takeover guidelines. Outline what your brand stands for, key messaging, what to post and what not to post, etc. Are you going to share your password (be sure to change it immediately afterwards!) or follow this person around all day? Some influencers are paid based on how well they performed; sometimes there is no payment involved with takeovers. Iron all of this out beforehand. Make sure that person who is taking over your platform is on board with everything before you pick a date.
  4. Relax! It’s never going to go exactly how you planned but that’s ok.
  5. Don’t forget to take down analytics afterwards. Establish if you met your goal and jot down some bullet points that identify why you think you did or you didn’t. If you don’t do this, you aren’t maximizing your takeover. This data will not only help you with future takeovers, but will also help with your social media strategy as a whole.

As with anything else you try, it’s great to do some research and see how other similar brands are handling takeovers. This will help you develop your takeover strategy, even if you opt to do something completely different.


When You’re a Mom and You Work in Social Media

I know some people don’t like the whole “working mom: how does she do it?” topic, because they’re upset that men are never asked how they balance work and life, but, honestly, I do think it’s different for women. I carried a child and then I spent over a year with a tiny human or ridiculous pump attached to me for one-third of the time. Pretty sure my husband never gave a presentation with a milk stain on his dress.

When I went back to work twelve weeks after birthing a child, I was terrified. I was exhausted, nervous…every emotion in the book. My brain was complete mush. I didn’t even know how I was going to get out of the door so early in the morning, let alone survive a work day.

Yet, here we are.

In a way, social media is a great field for parents because a lot of it can be done remotely. I’ve caught up on work while my daughter napped in the backseat of my car; I’ve drafted emails at 3 a.m. when I was up for the millionth time.

What parenting really looks like tbh

The downside is that I never feel that I can turn work completely off (which, of course, I’m sure is true for those in other industries as well). No one wants to spend the holidays responding to Facebook messages, but someone has to do it. Now that my daughter is a toddler, she can see that I’m addicted to my phone – eek!  She asks for “her phone” because she sees that I am on mine. It’s hard to explain to a toddler that Mommy is working.

Also, generally speaking, managing social media is not a strictly 9-5 job. There are events on nights and weekends that I have to attend, which sometimes leaves us scrambling for child care. I never want to spend more time away from my daughter than necessary … unless it’s for something fun like getting my nails done (real talk here). Plus, when I was nursing, the prospect of pumping at events was so daunting. Where will I go for privacy? Is there a way to refrigerate my milk without lugging a cooler? 

My daughter is only 22 months old, and, while she has sent snaps to people with text and emojis (seriously!), she is not teaching me anything about social media…BUT one day — in the probably not-so-distant future — she will! And that is so cool to me.

So…is being a social media manager an easier or harder job than others when balancing work with parenting? I’m not sure, since this is all I’ve ever known. But, just like everyone else, we’re making it work.

A Trick I Tried: Instagram Stories

I’ll admit it: I was nervous when Instagram stories first came out. How was I going to be able to make beautiful content instantly? And, also, I’m just starting to get used to Snapchat! Of course, that’s the thing about social media; you will never feel completely comfortable. And when social media is your job, that can be a little scary.

It turns out that maybe there wasn’t any need to panic. The content we produced for Instagram stories instantly (ha) performed well and we were getting good feedback. I was happy but not yet satisfied. I knew I wasn’t doing my absolute best, but I wasn’t sure how to take it to the next level.

Then, one day, I was looking at the Instagram stories on my personal feed. I realized that Ilana Wiles/@mommyshorts – someone I’ve been following since my days at Parents magazine – wasn’t posting her Instagram stories in real time. She would wait until she had a chance to go through her video content and then curate everything for her stories. No wonder they flowed so well and looked so nice! Why didn’t I think of this?

Unlike with Snapchat, Instagram doesn’t have the annoying “from camera roll” disclaimer when you upload content from your phone. It’s really a great solution.

Recently, I covered a campus tour at the college where I work and I decided to try this strategy. It made a huge difference. Even if you have an idea of how you want your stories to flow, it rarely works out that way in practice if you’re uploading it as it’s happening. (Keep in mind I am not a videographer by any means.) By having the ability to edit footage and thoughtfully consider captioning, tagging and what I’ll call “decorating” (emojis and GIFs), I made a more cohesive product.

Honestly, I probably could have spent even more time editing it. I realized that, in the future, I should film even more, because I have the opportunity to edit exactly how I please so having more content to choose from is better. (Again, amateur hour over here.)

The other thing I should have done is posted at a peak time, which is something I normally consider but didn’t think to do in this instance.

Now, I’ve made the move from being skeptical about Instagram stories to becoming a fan. Where do you stand?

When You’re Running Low on Content

If you don’t feed your social media platform with content, it isn’t going to function at its true potential. If you feed it too much at once and then have a starvation period, that isn’t great either. It’s very rare that a brand is going to have a steady amount to share 365 days a year … so how do you keep your profile consistent?

Scheduling posts is a good way around this conundrum. Do you have any evergreen content (meaning material that isn’t time sensitive) you can save for a slow period? No one will know it is scheduled except for you (and anyone else who has administrative access to your social media accounts, of course). If you don’t have a third-party app that can schedule posts for you, you can do it right on the Facebook app or have everything ready to go on your phone. I do this for holidays when I am away from the office.

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Photo by JÉSHOOTS on

Crowd sourcing for content is another approach I like to use. At the college where I work, we have two major hashtags and a handful of lesser-used hashtags that we encourage members of our community to add in their social media posts. I search the hashtags frequently to see if there is anything that can be used on our main social media channels. I also look at our mentions. Most people are thrilled to have their content shared on another account, as long as they receive credit.

You can crowd source the old-fashioned way as well, asking your colleagues if they have anything share-worthy for social.

Another way to keep your account fresh during a less-busy period is to run a contest or giveaway. These can spice up your feed when it’s looking a little lean.

Having Throwback Thursdays and Flashback Fridays is an easy way to keep content moving towards the end of the week. Having an entire week filled with “vintage” content is fun and a viable choice when you’re a one-person team and you’re on vacation, which everyone needs to take from time to time.

Sometimes there is an urge to post everything you’ve got on social media ASAP – Instagram has that name for a reason – but spacing out your content that isn’t extremely time-sensitive elevates your social media presence as a whole.

When Things Get Negative: Handling Social Backlash

It can be a terrible feeling to see a nasty comment from one of your followers after you’ve worked so hard and invested significant emotional energy on your brand. Unfortunately, social media managers deal with this all of the time.

This following is one of my favorite stories to share in relation to this topic, because it is actually somewhat comical:

When I worked at Parents, I published an innocent blog post on how Kourtney Kardashian is a great mom (which I stand by – haters gonna hate!). I put it on our Facebook page and quickly realized strangers were commenting on it and attacking me, saying I didn’t know what it meant to be a good mom, etc. Here I was, writing about a Kardashian super casually because I am slightly addicted to Keeping Up With the Kardashians, when all of a sudden things. got. real.

The key is to recognize that when people attack you on social media, it’s not really a personal attack – at least, not usually. They don’t know you; they are looking for a way to channel anger about who knows what. It is much easier to hate on something from the privacy of your home/Twitter account than it is to go up to someone and let her know exactly what you think.

woman holding cup wearing tank top sitting on bed
Photo by Bruno Cervera on

I almost always recommend that people ignore the trolls. By engaging, you are giving them ammunition. In the blog post scenario, what could I really say about myself or Kourtney K. that would change their minds about what they wrote? Better to let it be and have everything blow over until the next celebrity parent scandal.

The feedback I got from my blog post was definitely not constructive; however, there are some occasions when comments may be hurtful but they still deserve a response. The key to generating a successful customer service response is to remain professional and make sure you are expressing empathy. Use facts to explain a situation, and don’t try to diminish the customer’s anger over something. Don’t get overly defensive; you can share your true thoughts later to your best friend or, better yet, take a deep breath and let it go.

I like to save my more generic responses and then cater them to individuals. It can be a lot of work to generate an effective response and it is helpful to have templates.

You can also ask a couple of people to read your response over and provide feedback; but you don’t want your answers to be overly polished to the point where they seem fake.

A lesson that I’ve learned the hard way is that you should always move the conversation to a more private space, such as your DMs (direct messages). Yes, it is possible that your customer will screenshot your messages – always write with this in mind – but it is less likely. Keeping things public gives additional bait to the customer to continue his or her public criticism.

Another point: some criticism is good. It means that people are so deeply invested in your brand that they have a powerful emotion about something. If everyone is indifferent, that is bad news.  In the case of this Kardashian blog post – holy cow – I was like 24 years old and receiving national attention. (Not to toot my own horn … that may have been my peak as a writer!)

If the hate is weighing on you, take a break and reconnect with the real world. Take it from me: a 15-minute walk in sunlight can be completely mood-altering.

Is Anyone Out There? Making Social a Two-Way Conversation

You’ve created a social media strategy, and you’ve started posting content, but you’re getting radio silence from the outside world. Sound familiar?

You are not alone — this is a common problem. But that doesn’t mean you should get discouraged. Starting the conversation just takes some (additional) work.

Here are some easy ways you can get the social conversation flowing:

Build offline relationships, too.

Even in our increasingly digital world, you cannot underestimate the value of building relationships IRL (in real life). How you do this is going to largely depend on your brand. As an individual, you can attend conferences and go to networking events. Social is a great way to deepen the relationships that you establish offline.

Keep it simple.

Chances are good that no one is going to find inspiration from a social media post to fill out a 10-minute survey (unless they are really bored – sorry!). They are more likely to write a brief comment directly underneath the post (no clicking necessary), which is still valuable.

selective focus photography of woman using smartphone beside bookshelf
Photo by on

Host a contest/giveaway.

People like winning/getting things. I would advise against running too many of these, because you want your social media presence to have a deeper meaning than simply “hey, win these things!”

Remind your audience to say hello.

If your DMs (direct messages) are looking a little light lately, it can’t hurt to let your followers know you’d love to hear from them. Again, doing this too frequently looks a little desperate, but an occasional reminder that you are welcoming messages and will respond to them can be inviting.

Initiate the conversation.

Show that you care by going on prospective (or current) followers’ profiles and liking and commenting on their posts. I highly recommend that you read Gary Vee’s advice on building an Instagram following. It really applies to any platform: comment on someone’s profile and that person is more likely to comment on yours. Join a Twitter chat. Comment on someone’s Facebook Live video. Make the first move.

On that note, I invite you to contact me at any point. Had to sneak that in there 😉