4 Tips for a Successful Social Media Takeover

Even for the most successful brands on social media, simply posting along branded lines can make an account feel stale after a while. No matter how witty, funny or engaging the posts can be, sometimes you just need a change of pace. One way to do this is by orchestrating a takeover of an account. Such a change in voice and personality has the potential to reinvigorate fans and bystanders alike.

Takeovers can be used to various ends—product launches, live-tweeting or as part of a larger campaign. What the finished product looks like will depend heavily on what the goals are and who is in fact taking over. And to be effective, a takeover doesn’t necessarily have to be carried out by an influencer or any specific person. The Twitter account for Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment’s video game "Shadow of Mordor"—a game that takes place in the world of J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels—was taken over by Orcs (nefarious, evildoing creatures that stand in the way of the story's protagonists).

To build buzz for the game’s launch, Warner Brothers and its agency partner Edelman used the uniquely vile personality of the game’s villains to give its Twitter presence an overhaul. Changing the brand’s voice from optimistic to brutish, the team challenged big brands and fans to a virtual war of words to build awareness for the game.

Here are four things to keep in mind when planning and executing a social media takeover, drawn from Edelman and Warner Brothers' campaign.

Go big—Use the novelty of a takeover to engage with more fans, brands and influencers than usual, while building and solidifying relationship along the way. The Orcs of "Shadow of Mordor" called out big brands like Pizza Hut, Monster, Old Spice, Snickers and Red Bull on Twitter and comedy ensued as the brands went back and forth, playing along with the Lord of the Rings theme.

Be different—For a takeover to be successful it has to have a unique element. There has to be something significantly different about the takeover content when compared to the regular postings. The "Shadow of Mordor" account usually has an aspirational tone, one that speaks to the players who would fight the Orc armies in the game. The Orc takeover flipped this on its head by being playfully aggressive and communicating in all caps.

Have a war room—This is important in all communications campaigns, but should not be overlooked here especially. The whole idea is to generate increased engagement and reach through a takeover, which is all for naught if no one is paying attention to keep conversations going throughout the effort.

Don’t forget visuals—With visual elements becoming increasingly important across all social media, unique images can help draw eyeballs to your posts. Visual content can also help showcase the change that takes place in a takeover through individual postings, account backgrounds and avatar images.

Warner Brothers and Edelman kept all these things in mind and saw an incredible amount of engagement and success as a result of the Orc takeover. The hashtags #ShadowofMordor and #OrcTakeover were used over 4,500 times in two days, the team garnered over 6 million impressions and the "Shadow of Mordor" Twitter account saw a 40 percent increase in followers. The team’s work on the takeover was also awarded a 2015 PR News Social Media Icon Award for Best Tweet Content.