At the 2015 Dusseldorf International Boat Show, an expansive red cloth hid a new yacht, leaving only a vague boatish outline visible to a growing crowd. As a Coldplay song blared and the fabric suddenly lifted, Katie Jackson — brand manager for boats.com — took out her iPhone and shot a 29-second video of the big reveal.
In one day, that video reached roughly 6,700 people through boats.com’s Facebook account — whereas the company’s other video posts usually average a few hundred to a few thousand views. What was different about this one? It was part of Jackson’s ﬁrst social-media takeover for boats.com, a global search engine that bills itself as “the go-to resource for everything boats,” including news articles and sale listings. Jackson has since staged several more takeovers, picking out Instagram ﬁlters and ﬁring off tweets from boat shows all over the world. She says the takeovers boost social-media engagement — and she has the data to back it up.
A social-media takeover means letting someone who doesn’t normally handle your company’s social media take the reins for the day. It can be someone from a complementary business or just a different department. (Search the hashtag #socialtakeover on Twitter to see dozens of examples.) Jackson describes her takeovers as “an organic, unpolished, unedited, shoot-from-the-hip approach.”
They actually began out of necessity. Jackson asked the team that ﬁlms “ﬁrst-look” videos for boats.com to put some social posts up at the next boat show, but they said producing the videos didn’t leave time for social media. “I said, right, I’m going to come and do it myself, and prove we can generate results,” Jackson said. “And we really did. Everyone was gobsmacked by what we were able to achieve for the cost of a ﬂight and a cheap hotel room in Germany.”
During a takeover day, Jackson posts live from major boat shows to boats.com’s accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — but never more than once on each platform per hour. Before she even arrives, she knows how many people she wants to reach. Using the ﬁrst takeover in Dusseldorf as a base-line, Jackson has set a stretch target for every show since, growing boats.com’s engagement numbers a little at a time. This past September, she aimed to reach 25,000 people on social media between takeovers at the Cannes Yachting Festival and the Southampton Boat Show. She reached 32,000 at Cannes alone.
Jackson uses the post analytics that Facebook offers to business accounts, then manually tallies likes and comments on Instagram and likes and retweets on Twitter. For a single boat show, she aims for 50 likes and 25 retweets on Twitter; on Instagram, she looks for 400 to 500 likes. “Facebook is by far the most massive in terms of reach,” Jackson said. “But it’s very much comparing apples, oranges, and bananas when you compare these three platforms. They all provide different opportunities and report different metrics.”
There are generally more stats to analyze and explore on a takeover day than usual. “You’re probably going to deliver more posts in a given 10-hour window,” Jackson s.aid, “than in any normal posting day.”