How Your Brand Can Host a Celebrity Takeover on Social Media

Many brands have successfully partnered with famous people to share their company's story. Here is how to do it the right way.

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By Nate Birt

Vin Scully

This story originally appeared on

Your brand might not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame yet, figuratively speaking, but there's a way to reach that objective that can save you time and create impressive exposure.

That's right: We're talking about a celebrity takeover of your social media channels. Many brands have successfully partnered with famous people to share their company's story.

Yet you'll need the proper strategy for execution, including finding the right person to advocate for your brand, identifying objectives for the takeover and promoting it heavily at all stages of the event. You'll also want to evaluate whether your campaign proved successful based on the metrics you established.

Let's channel the talented Alex Trebek to discover how to run a successful takeover.

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Identify what celebrities do well.

In some ways, a celebrity takeover seems counterintuitive. After all, shouldn't in-house experts and brand champions within the walls of your company be the ones to tell its story?

Yet there are numerous reasons to explore a celebrity partnership under the right circumstances. In reviewing the book "Celebrity Sells" by Hamish Pringle, blogger Bob Williams of The Brand Agent summarizes Pringle's 10 reasons celebrities can be effective in advertising. Among them:

  • They can help a new product stand a cut above.
  • They can serve as effective role models.
  • They can reveal new details of their lives to explain why a brand or product is relevant to them.

Whatever reasons you decide to bring in a celebrity, this list is an excellent guide for your campaign.

Determine your brand objectives.

The next step is to determine what a celebrity can do for you, small business expert Susan Solovic writes. It's a nice piece of "Jeopardy"-worthy trivia if a famous person uses your brand's products or services in real life, but that's hardly actionable.

On the other hand, you can leverage celebrities in an effort to get consumers to make specific purchasing decisions. Such is the case with a campaign scheduled to launch this spring from Partnership for a Healthier America.

In this case, the objective is to get teenagers to eat more fruits and vegetables, explains To do that, the nonprofit has enlisted the help of First Lady Michelle Obama and other famous people, including actress Jessica Alba and athlete Cam Newton, to convey relevant messages on social media, print, TV and more.

The event included a social media takeover aimed at generating 1 million posts per day for an entire week aimed at healthy eating.

In this case, organizers identified a goal; added metrics and a timeframe for completion; and inked a deal to use celebrities as spokespeople for a good cause. Imagine what your brand could do with these ingredients.

You can also read about successful unofficial social takeovers, such as Alba and Drew Barrymore's recent appearance at a Baby2Baby event to benefit low-income families.

Related: 6 Tips for Scoring Celebrity Content for Your Website

Make the pitch and promote your event.

To successfully engineer a social media takeover, you need to identify the right celebrity for your brand. Twitter shares some excellent examples from the world of athletics, such as veteran broadcaster Vin Scully's takeover of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball account.

Whether your brand creates cleaning products or hosts cruises in Alaska, find celebrities whose career and interests align with yours in some way. Some marketing companies such as ROI Influencer Media even work with talent agencies to make the right match.

Once you've confirmed participation, the next step is to make sure everyone in the social universe knows about the takeover. You'll want to tout the celebrity you're working with, the time and date of the event and the ways Internet users can participate in the fun.

Twitter notes that a "short, snappy hashtag that includes the name of the person taking over the account helps drive people to that takeover." To that end, consider creating promotional materials such as this tweeted illustration from NBATV to show off your celebrity as well as the hashtag they'll want to use to interact.

Host the takeover.

When the big day arrives, you'd better be on your game. As brand content director Aubrey Flynn of Blue Flame Agency tells Digiday, "Brands can really benefit from celebrity takeovers in particular, harnessing the social media influence of a tastemaker, serving as an organic endorsement."

A few steps bear mentioning here. First, ensure you've worked out details with your celebrity such as who will be doing the posting. It might be your brand's communications team (posting text and photos verbatim from the celebrity without turning over sensitive passwords, for example). On the other hand, if you've built a trusting rapport or have an in-house celebrity, your famous spokesperson might literally have free reign of the account.

Second, have objectives in writing. Is your celebrity supposed to post to Instagram and Facebook dozens of times during the course of a day? A week? Should he or she also be directly responding to comments from fans on social media, or re-sharing posts? Having these details worked out up front will ensure the campaign runs smoothly once it goes live.

Finally, ensure your brand team is ready to handle any questions or technical glitches as the takeover progresses. As with anything in social media, change happens quickly. Know the plan but be prepared to change as the situation merits.

Evaluate results.

If your campaign is successfully, your brand likely will have a wealth of social data to mine after the takeover ends. Metrics might include:

  • Total followers to social channels after the takeover
  • Total mentions of a particular hashtag across social channels (see this post from The Globe and Mail for details on successful engagement with celebrities)
  • Total impressions across media, including TV and print
  • Total funds raised (e.g. a campaign to raise money for a cause or a nonprofit)
  • Total business leads generated

Remember, even low-touch takeovers such as these described by Hootsuite can result in return on investment in the form of time-savings for your creative team. If executives in your company want to engage on social media, a little training and guidance for a mini-takeover can enable you to share social posting responsibilities while engaging with your audience in a new way.

Enjoy the experience, and remember to have fun with your newfound star power.

Related: 6 Music Stars Betting Big on Tech

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