How to Do a Social Media Party or Account Guest “Takeover”

If you’re marketing your writing, you know that growing your audience is the most difficult part.  One powerful tool: leveraging other people’s audiences.  If someone a potential reader knows and trusts has you on as guest, that reader will be more likely to trust that your work has quality too.

One fun way to do this is to temporarily take control of someone else’s social media account (Usually for somewhere between an hour and a day).  This can be for a book blogger, another author, a Facebook group – anywhere readers go for information.  This is beneficial for both you and the account holder.  You get the signal boost.  And the account you’re taking the reigns on gets unique content.  Win, win, right?

It is – as long as you plan ahead, so that everything goes smoothly.  Most of the work involved actually takes place before the day of the party or takeover.

Define Your Objectives

What specifically do you want to get out of the takeover or party?  Are you trying to get more followers for your own social media?  Encourage subscription to your author newsletter?  Encourage reader reviews?  Tailor your pitch to the account holder – and later your posts – to subtly lean into this goal.

Choose Which Social Media Network

The whole point of doing a media or takeover is to grow your own audience.  Choose a social media platform that you are already active on, so that you have appealing content for potential readers/followers to go to if they follow your username back to your account.  If you’re looking to expand onto a new platform, make sure you’ve made an account in advance, and put up a few posts that give the flavor of the account you’re planning to create.

Different social media networks appeal to different types of readers.  If you know who your “ideal reader” is (the specific person you imagine picking up your book in the bookstore), take a little time to figure out which social media platforms that reader will be most likely to use.  For example, young adult readers are more likely to be on Tik Tok than Facebook.  Reach out to your ideal readers on whichever platform where you’re most likely to find them.

Choose Who You Want to Work With

Your posts will stay on the social media account you’ve partied at/taken over, so make sure the owner of the account is someone you want to be associated with long term.  If you are taking over another author’s account, think about how that author’s work relates to yours.  The last thing you want is to have readers of that author’s work buy yours after the party or takeover, only to find it isn’t the type of read they are looking for – and potentially give you a poor review.

When narrowing down who you want to contact, give preference to accounts with high audience engagement.  You want to be able to ask and answer questions during the event, so having people who are already used to participating really helps.  Obviously, accounts with large number of followers will give you more exposure for your posts, so take that into account as well.

Look for accounts that mesh well with the genre/subject matter of your book.  But don’t be afraid to think outside the box.  For example, if the protagonist of your book is an archeologist or a history buff, maybe you could workout a takeover with a Facebook Group that focuses in on history.

Decide on the Type of Event

There will be some similarities between any type of event where you have permissions on someone else’s account to post your own content, but what you call the event will set expectations for people who visit the account.

Decide whether you are proposing a:

Book Launch Party – This is a party to celebrate your book.  It is usually on or a few days after the book’s release date.

Multi-Author Party – This is an event where several authors all get permissions to the same account and create posts around a theme or genre.

Account Takeover – Basically, you pretend that the account you’ve taken over is your account for the day.  Let readers into your life as an author, and give potential followers a taste of what they’d see on your account.

Pitch the Account Owner

When you ask if the account owner is interested in having you do a takeover or party, format your message or e-mail as much like a business letter as possible.  You want to sound professional yet personable.  Give the account owner enough information to find your website, and to see the listing for your book on Amazon and other bookseller sites.  If you have qualifications as a speaker or teacher, or other skills or life history that would make you an interesting guest, make sure to share them.

Keep a list of who you have contacted, so you don’t accidentally pitch to the same person twice.  Once you find someone who says yes, make sure to clarify expectations on both sides well before the event.

Agree on a Time Frame

You need a clear expectation for how much time you need to be available to actively participate.  Don’t expect to multi-task during the event, especially if the group/account has active engagement.

Sometimes you may be expected to actively post in the event for a relative short period of time (ex. 1 hour) but the posts will remain open for comment for much longer (ex. 48 hours) during which time you will be expected to check in and respond to comments.

Agree on a Number and Type of Posts

Make sure your expectations for what and how often you will post during the event matches the account owner.  (For short events that last only an hour or two, I like to pre-schedule posts to show up every ten or fifteen minutes.  If an event is going to last all day, I space them out more.  You don’t want to overwhelm someone’s feed with something new every few minutes, all day long.  That will make them remember you alright – but not in a good way.)

The account may be looking for:

Static Posts – These consist of a still image and caption text.  Try not to make posts that are just text, as readers tend to scroll past them.  If you don’t have pre-built graphics, at least add a gif or stock photo that gets across the mood of the text in a way that will catch the reader’s eye.

“Stories” Type Posts – These are temporary posts that show up for a day or so, and are not part of the account’s main feed.  They are typically less formal, and may have stickers or interactive elements applied to them.

Polls and AMAs – These are interactive posts.  Polls ask the reader to provide opinions.  AMAs (Ask Me Anything-s) invite participants to initiate conversation.

Prerecorded Video – These are video clips that lend themselves to book readings, behind-the-scenes footage, etc.

Live Broadcasts – These are videos recorded during the party or takeover, and may star you in conversation with someone else.

Understand the Parameters

Before the event starts, make sure you have discussed with the account owner:

How will you gain access to the account?  Will you be able to test access before the party starts?

Will you be able to pre-schedule posts?  If so, will it be in the social media platform or using a scheduler app.

Are there any hashtags that the account owner has been using for the event?  Hashtags you want them to use?

Do pictures need to be formatted to specific dimensions/resolution?  Is there a preferred format for captions?

Is direct marketing okay?  (Some Facebook Groups and other group accounts do not allow authors to post advertising/promotional material.  In this case, if you decide to proceed with the event, you will have to be very careful to only present information relevant to the group’s interests.)

Is profanity okay (if this is something you intend to use)?

Are there any topics you’re not allowed to talk about?  Any companies, events, or other accounts you shouldn’t mention?

The Posts You Should Make

Introduce Yourself – Tell us some of the things in your bio, but also let us in on skills, hobbies or interesting facts that can be used to make connections and start conversation.  In your initial post, tell readers what to expect. (Ex. – There will be ten total posts, scheduled ten minutes apart. Responding to posts that mention giveaways will enter you into the giveaway associated with that post.)

Highlight Your Book’s Subject Matter/Research – You did the research, and chances are some of it is fascinating.  Write a post or two that shares fascinating things you’ve uncovered.

Take Readers Behind the Scenes – Readers love to see where writers write.  If you have a cool workspace, a fun notebook, a special coffee cup – share it, and share what it means to you.  If you’re going places to do research, take pics or video as you go.  Or even better, have someone take pics of you doing the research.

Talk About Why You Wrote the Book – Inspirations behind writing projects can be very personal, but if you’re going to do this kind of post, you need to come up with a way to phrase it so that readers can understand.  You don’t want to come across as out-of-touch or self-absorbed, so you may have to be vulnerable.

Talk About Your Characters – Possibly even from their viewpoint.  I’ve written posts from the POV of an octopus, and from my character’s pet rabbit.  That can get a bit meta (my animal characters don’t talk in my books), so it’s perfectly acceptable to just talk about the characters.  Readers will want to know why you chose to write about these particular people.  What do you admire about the story’s hero?  What do you love to hate about the villain?

Talk About Your Setting – You’ve either extensively researched your setting, or you created this place from scratch.  You’ve bound to have come up with some fascinating facts.  Readers would also love to know what the place you’re writing about means to you.

Talk About Your Theme – Why did you write this particular book?  What about your overall writing career?  What themes keep coming up?  What do you hope readers will take away from having read your work?

Talk About Food – And offer a recipe.  If you talk about food a lot in your work, recipes are a good way to give readers a preview of what they can expect from your book.  Appealing photographs are the key to this kind of post.

Talk About Pets/Other Animals – If you have a pet, share a pic or two.  People are a lot more comfortable liking and sharing pictures of your pet than pictures of you.  It also helps you build connections and empathy, as you’re showing you’ve earned the affection of another living thing.  If there are pets or other animals mentioned in your book, make sure to mention it.

Offer a Giveaway – Readers love giveaways.  Offering one can encourage participation (especially if every comment gets us an entry in the contest.)  You can offer copies of your books, items such as pens and mini-mirrors, or gift cards.

Thank Everyone for Coming — Thank the account owner in your final post, and also thank those who dropped by for the event.  If you make this a positive experience, the blogger will be more likely to want to work with you again when your next book comes out.  This is also your chance to give participants a call to action.  Where should they go to find out more about you and your work?  Which one of your books should they buy?

Publicize the Event

To get the most out of a party or takeover, you need to tell others about it.  E-mail friends you think might be interested in participating and/or willing to spread the word.  (Maybe ask a few folks to stop by and ask questions, in case you need help getting the conversation started.  Post about the event on social media.

Participate in The Party

This is your takeover or party.  Which makes you the host, even though it is someone else’s account.  Try to be a good host, and circulate among the guests.

Answer all relevant questions posed.  Don’t feel obligated to answer any questions that don’t feel like part of the conversation or that make you feel uncomfortable in any way.  DO NOT respond to trolls, marketing spam or other negative posts.

Like or comment on relevant responses.  If there are so many that this gets overwhelming, at least acknowledge comments that are more than generic congratulations.

Have fun with it!

If you’re having fun, chances are participants/readers will too.

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