How Customer Social Takeovers Can Build Trust with Your Audience

Adam Buchanan
6 min readSep 4, 2018

Since Influencer Marketing has hit the scene in business one popular tactic has been having an influencer do a social takeover.

This is when the influencer gets the password and login for the brand’s Instagram account and post content for a day. They announce they are taking over the account and let the audience know they can ask them questions, follow along, and engage with them.

In this article I’ll share how brands can do takeovers the right way to build trust with their audience using the Marketing Trust framework.

Flashback alert

Social takeovers remind me of the old days (I’m 34 to give you a sense of when I say ‘old’) when there would be fundraiser telethons and you would call in a 800-number and John Elway or Deion Sanders would pick up the phone and you could donate $10 to a good cause.

Huffington Post Live had me interview Helen Hunt because they saw on Twitter I’m her biggest fan.

Why would talking to a celebrity on the phone get people to donate? Because talking to a celebrity on the phone is pretty dang exciting! I once interviewed Helen Hunt, my childhood crush, a few years ago with Huffington Post Live and I have to admit it was super exciting. I pitched Twister 2 and my guess is I wasn’t the first…

Wanna hear something even more crazy? I was interviewed on Jay Baer’s Social Pros a year before the interview with Helen Hunt happened. On the interview he asked if I could Skype with any living person who would it be? I chose Helen Hunt. A year later, bam. Life goal unlocked. Thanks Jay.

Why Social Takeovers Work

Before we dive into how to do a takeover the right way, I’m going to explain why they work so well.

Consumers are accustomed to media programming. When Netflix says they are releasing 2 seasons of the Walking Dead they expect to be able to view that content. When American Idol says the finale of season 219 (or whatever season they are on) will air on Tuesday 7PM CT people are ready with their phones to vote and watch who won the season.

Programming has exploded with the rise in social media. The reason why this is so important for brands to understand is to build their content strategy around what TV networks have done for decades: Consistency and Constancy. As brands, we set expectations with our audiences with programming and if done right will break through all the noise to maintain the attention of our audience.

Social takeovers are popular to brands because it alleviates off the content creation resources and they can bring in an industry leader who can create a deeper connection with the audience. They also work because consumers need a break from brands once in a while. They want to hear from real people.

Imagine that.

When we look at the Marketing Trust framework it’s build upon three main pillars and here’s how they relate to takeovers:

Proximity — In this case the audience feels close to the person because they can comment on the social takeover and get a response similar to calling a famous NFL football player during a telethon.

Honesty — Takeovers are fairly planned these days but the reason why they work so well is because the audience feels like the person taking over the brand’s social feeds can be real with them and lose the ‘brandvertising’ for a day.

Expertise — The most popular approach with social takeovers is using influencers with a high social following. I’ve also seen it work well to allow super fans takeover the brand’s social feed to share their story and how they use the product.

How to do a Social Takeover to build trust with your audience

The title of this article is ‘How Customer Social Takeovers Can Build Trust with Your Audience’. I meant to do that because I believe your current customers can be your greatest advocates which in turn means they can be your greatest influencers.

If your brand has relationships with ambassadors or influencers absolutely use the following strategy to do a social takeover, but also consider your customers can be great to partner with as well. Here are four things to include in your social takeover strategy.


Decide early how often you’ll host social takeovers. Remember, the reason why they work so well is because they give your audience a break from what you’re talking about but also should be done consistently.

One benefit of working with customers with takeovers is they are far more accessible then a social influencer. Influencers may charge you big bucks to do the takeover and may be harder to schedule.

As you stick to a specific programming schedule your audience will become accustom to it just like when they expect a new season release of their favorite binge worthy TV show.


By using the Marketing Trust framework of Proximity, Honesty, and Expertise I’d say the big one to keep in mind when selecting someone for a takeover is who can make sure they have a strong Proximity with the audience.

You want to make sure whomever is doing the takeover will pause, respond to comments, take a quick video to address the audience, and make sure they are present.

A lot of time I see social takeovers so rigid and scheduled that they leave very little room to ad lib and actually connect with the audience. You want to select someone who is comfortable with this.

If you do decide to work with a customer it’s best to work with someone that is comfortable producing content and can quickly produce a video. Most of the influencers and ambassadors that I see in the outdoor industry who do social takeovers can do this easily.

Remember: unpolished and raw content that have the right intentions can outperform perfectly executed updates in the newsfeed.

Plan with Freedom

Outline with the person taking over what the expectations are and how much content they should consider producing. Often I see in the outdoor industry photographers takeover a brand’s social account and have images prepared to post during the takeover.

This is definitely the right way to do it but I’d also take it one step further and allow them to create a quick video to answer customer questions.

Avoid having the takeover be so rigid that it comes off stale. Think of how can you make someone feel like they get special access to someone’s story.


I’m so surprised brands only think takeovers should be done on Instagram. Seriously this blows me away.

I’ve been hearing a lot of outdoor brands tell me lately that twitter has dropped off for them and isn’t seeing much performance and Facebook has so many algorithm updates it’s hard to keep up.

Let that go for a second.

Make sure that if you’re doing a takeover that ALL channels get taken over.

For twitter you could publish the live updates and even host a 30 min twitter chat.

For Facebook you could go live on Facebook Live and discuss the product or story being featured that day. You could increase the cadence to make the audience feel like they have special access for the day and can interact with the person taking over.

If some of your social channels are struggling a takeover can help re-engage those audiences and even might show that they do have signs of life. Or they don’t and you just need to delete your Facebook page.

Takeovers Can Build Trust with Your Audience

As you do more takeovers for your social channels keep in mind that this is about connecting with others and not cutting corners to cheat the social algorithms. Go in with the right intentions and consider doing takeovers often to serve your audience.

Have you seen success with takeovers or are you just starting out?

Hi, I’m Adam Buchanan. I’m a public speaker and marketing consultant for outdoor brands where I help them infuse more trust with their audience to grow their sales and loyalty. I’m the host of the Marketing Trust podcast which you can download and listen to here.



Adam Buchanan

Marketing and Business Consultant | Public Speaker | Influencer Marketing Strategist | Author | Beekeeper