Paula Kiger

Anatomy of a Snapchat Takeover

By: Paula Kiger | September 6, 2016 | 
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Anatomy of a Snapchat Takeover

Snapchat: For no other social channel is it more applicable to say, “You learn by doing.”

My list of Snapchat foibles is lengthy and it contains a disproportionate amount of “Laura.”

Like the time I included this image in my story without realizing it:

Anatomy of a Snapchat Takeover

Or the multiple times I included Laura in my Snapchat posting, prompting her to “encourage” me to stick with posting stories to the general public rather than also sending them directly to her.

During the past few months I’ve been on Snapchat, I have mastered some of the basics…finally.

And Snapchat keeps worming its way into my writing, including a post for Weaving Influence and this one for Spin Sucks.

Do a bit of knowledge and a few blog posts qualify me to take over someone else’s Snapchat account?

Maybe not, but I volunteered to take over for a day when Shot at Life asked, and they accepted me.

Off we went down takeover road.

Why Do a Snapchat Takeover?

According to Delmondo, a Snapchat takeover is “the most effective method for growing audiences while showing variety of content and exposing new audiences to new people.”

When I asked Shot at Life’s digital manager, Beth Nervig, about the results of my takeover day, she responded, “We got 20+ new followers from your takeover (which for us was a 20 percent jump!).”

Lessons Learned from a Snapchat Takeover 

Plan Ahead

The Shot at Life digital team did a fantastic job of working with me in advance to plan the takeover day, and make sure I was equipped to succeed.

They sent a resource about understanding Snapchat in general (because I certainly do still need THAT), as well as, Shot at Life’s goals for incorporating Snapchat into its digital strategy.

Once I sent my thoughts on how the day might look, Shot at Life responded with the considerations I needed to keep in mind.

For example:

One of the snaps I proposed had to do with a national pharmacy chain that has a partnership with Shot at Life.

This was not preferable because they would need to approve the way in which they were represented in a snap.

Another snap I proposed was at a business where I had conducted a fundraiser previously this year.

I was reminded to mention this had been a personal fundraiser (vs. a cause-wide fundraiser).

And of course there were the basic tips and hints:

  • Always hold the phone vertical.
  • Make snaps a minimum of five seconds.
  • For blocks of text, superimpose them on a big block of solid color.

Tell One Piece of the Story

It would have been impossible, not to mention ineffective, for me to try to cover everything Shot at Life does in one 24-hour period on Snapchat.

In addition, the most effective Snapchat stories are the ones that best reflect you as an individual, even when you are representing an organization.

Although Shot at Life focuses on four vaccine preventable diseases (polio, pneumonia, diarrhea, and measles), I decided to focus, for the most part, on polio (partially because I have an adorable stuffed “polio” that lent itself well to being the day’s “mascot”).

Shot also has three different goals: Educate, empower, and connect.

In choosing to do a story around “a day as an advocate,” I ended up focusing more on the “educate” part.

Trying to squeeze “empower” and “connect” into a set of approximately 20 snaps would have diluted the story and made it lose focus.

How it All Went

One step in being the person behind a takeover, is promotion.

For example, I made my Facebook profile picture the Shot at Life snapcode, mentioned the takeover two days prior during the weekly #ChatSnap Twitter chat, and included my takeover in the “share thread” for one of my blogger groups.

It was one thing to have fun taking over, but it was another thing to take responsibility for making sure new people were following along.

A few notes from the day itself.

  • It was necessary to have planned in advance which shots I wanted to capture. I did end up doing some spontaneous shots, but if you don’t have a rough outline in mind of the snaps you need/want, you may miss out on opportunities to create a cohesive story.
  • Even though everything on Snapchat happens in a ….. snap, you still have to take time in advance to set up the way you want. I sent at least one snap that wasn’t the minimum five seconds and it was so frustrating to not be able to fix it after the fact.
  • A Snapchat takeover requires a delicate balance of thinking on your feet and taking a deep breath to make sure the basic mechanics are working. I traveled all the way to our Capitol Building, took a picture in a Senator’s office that was (to me) critical to the theme of “A Day in the Life of an Advocate,” and clarified the details of the caption I wanted to include with his regional director …. only to find that the snap never loaded. AHHHHH!!!! If I had checked to make sure it had loaded, all would have been good.
  • It’s okay to put your plan aside when the perfect opportunity presents itself. After my failed snap from the Senator’s office, I had a fun snap from the top of our Capitol Building, which has a great observatory that overlooks all of Tallahassee. I was able to mention my fellow Shot at Life champion, Inga, who is a college student, by pointing out Florida State University and using Snapchat’s drawing capabilities to draw an arrow to FSU and mention Inga via a caption.

Would I volunteer to take over the Snapchat for a favorite cause or product again?

You bet I would!

I learned more about Snapchat (remember, I have a lot to learn), I connected IN PERSON with people who are important to our effort (like the Senator’s staff), and I enticed a few more people to follow Shot at Life.

Snapchat may be (mostly) temporary, but my takeover day made a permanent impression on me, and hopefully on others.

image credit: Paula Kiger and Shot@Life

About Paula Kiger


Paula Kiger believes her Twitter bio says it best: Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. She is a communications professional who provides writing, editing and social media services through Big Green Pen. She was the community manager for the Lead Change Group for two years. Paula has a Master’s Degree in Counseling and Human Systems from Florida State University. She is an active advocate for many causes, including access to immunizations for children worldwide.