Social Media Takeovers for Nonprofits: How to Grow Your Following in 8 Simple Steps

Social Media

Cameos are exciting, surprising, and generate conversation. They’re used in films, commercials, music videos, and more frequently, in social media campaigns. An easy and affordable version of the cameo is the social media takeover — when an influencer takes control of a social media account for a predetermined amount of time to post content. How long they post and what they post are up to you and the influencer. Looking to nurture influencer relationships, generate new content, and increase your reach? Check out our tips for how to grow your following with a social media takeover below.

But first: Why you should try a social media takeover

Social media takeovers build brand credibility and awareness in one fell swoop. When someone authoritative, like an influencer or expert, is in your corner, it shows new and existing followers that you are a leader in your cause space. It also improves the reputation of the influencer or expert when they are tied to a cause — nurturing this relationship can be valuable for campaigns or events down the line. 

Takeovers will also increase your reach, as influencers will encourage their followers to go to your profile to see the takeover. Many of those new eyes will become new followers, and potentially supporters, for your organization. With the new Instagram donate button, it’s even easier to turn social growth into donations. 

For small teams with limited time, social media takeovers can be a great opportunity to generate new content without adding extra creative work internally. 

How to grow your following with a social media takeover

If a social media takeover sounds like the right fit for your organization, make sure to follow these steps for success. 

1. Set a goal for your social media takeover

You wouldn’t hand over the keys to your car if you didn’t know where the other person was going (and how good of a driver they are, but we’ll get to that in a second). Make sure to set a goal for the takeover and clear metrics that align with that goal. If your goal is to grow your following, make sure the influencer alerts their followers to go to your account to see the takeover, tags you in multiple posts, and that you track the number of followers that come in on the day of the takeover. Other example goals and metrics could be video views, donations, or clicks to site (on Instagram, this is viable only  if the influencer has more than 10,000 followers and has the swipe-up feature enabled on Instagram stories). 

2. Find the right influencer

As we said above, you want to make sure someone is a good driver before they take off in your car. First, choose the right platform for your audience — meet your future followers where they are to avoid shouting into the void. 

Then, research influencers on the chosen platform with relevant interests to your organization and to your target audience. An “influencer” in this case doesn’t need to be a celebrity (though that is awesome if you have a celebrity or social media personality in your network). Below are 4 kinds of people that could tell great stories about your organization with examples from nonprofits. 

1. Beneficiaries of your work

Illustrate stories of success and put your beneficiaries at the forefront. If it is too much of an ask for them to take over for a day, you can have them submit their stories in their own words, along with photos or videos for your team to post. 

View this post on Instagram

"My family’s love and support has meant everything over the years, and my donor’s selfless gift did much more than just help me. My donor is helping every patient I will ever see in my lifetime.” Hunter had big plans to become a doctor, but complications from his cystic fibrosis left him as a patient in need of a new liver. A donor’s gift gave him the chance he needed to attend medical school, saving Hunter’s life — and ultimately enabling him to save and heal the lives of others as a future physician. Today, Hunter feels healthier than ever and is back on track pursuing his career dreams. He has obtained his master’s degree in biomedical sciences, and he is about to begin his third year of medical school. Hunter hopes to become an emergency physician so he can give back. 💙💚 . . . #ECHODonateLife #StoriesofHope #DonateLife #DoneVida #DonateLifeAmerica #RegisterMe

A post shared by Donate Life America (@donatelifeamerica) on

2. Socially-active employees 

They know your cause inside and out — who better to represent your organization? For schools and colleges, can be a great option to feature the students that make up the institution. 

3. People out in the field 

Volunteers, freelancers, representatives, or ambassadors working out in the field on a specific project can show the work on the ground — a great option for environmental or humanitarian organizations. 

4. Guest artists or speakers 

These are individuals with some amount of prestige and recognition that are already connected to the organization for that event — a great option for arts organizations. 

Whoever you choose, meet with them to align your goals with theirs to ensure success and happiness from both sides. 

3. Make it easy and mutually beneficial 

Set clear guidelines for the influencer so they do not feel overwhelmed — this could result in an unclear takeover narrative or not enough posting. Before the takeover, be sure to schedule a planning call and send over:

  • The goal of the takeover
  • Timeline of the takeover, including when it is, as well as when and how they should promote it
  • Your organization’s style guide with approved and disapproved language
  • Any hashtags or accounts to tag in posts
  • Any creative assets (images, videos, gifs) they should share if relevant
  • UTM tagged landing pages they should send followers to if relevant


It’s also wise to draft up a contract or MOU of some kind to protect your organization and set clear expectations and make sure goals are clear. Depending on the influencer, they may also ask for compensation. 

As mentioned in the example with Donate Life America, you can also take a different approach to the “takeover” and have your “influencers” submit materials in advance (stories, quotes, images, videos) and then post later on their behalf. 

4. Protect yourself

Speaking of protecting your organization, be careful when handing over your passwords. We recommend setting up a temporary password for that day and influencer, rather than letting them peak behind the curtain at the passwords you use for all your accounts. Be clear with the influencer as to when you will log in and take over again so they understand the time constraints. Then remember to remove their access or change the password after the takeover. 

5. Promote it

Send out the invites! Let your followers on all platforms know the takeover is happening and when — not only will you get more eyes on it, but you will hopefully attract  followers from other platforms to follow you on the takeover platform. Make sure your takeover partner is also promoting on their channels in advance and tagging your account so their followers know where to go and when. 

6. Track it

Make sure you have a plan for tracking the takeover so you know how close you’ve gotten to your goals. Utilize hashtags — including a custom hashtag for the particular takeover, UTM tag landing pages if you are sending users to your site, and make sure you have a business profile, rather than personal profile on Facebook and Instagram to see detailed data. 

7. Say thank you

After the takeover, be sure to thank your guest poster! Public and personal thank yous nurture your relationship — it could lead to more takeovers, campaigns, or events in the future. 

8. Review and reflect

Review the data internally to see if you reached your goal or not. What could have changed? What was missing, if anything? Was the takeover process exceedingly stressful or like a content-related weight was lifted off your teams’ shoulders? Use this conversation to inform future social media takeover campaigns. 

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