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by Katie Jackson | October 12, 2016

Katie Jackson of boats.comWant to bring fresh, live content to your social media audience? A social media takeover -- in which the posting duties are turned over to an on-the-spot guest -- is an excellent way to make it happen. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed about how to get started, don't worry. This seven-point plan is a proven guide for any poster to deliver successful live-event coverage.

Before the event
1. Develop a strategy.
Because there is typically so much going on at the same time during a big event, it's important to review the agenda of everything that is taking place (for example, who's speaking and about what) and decide which sessions or elements of the event you want to share with your community. It's always better to cover some of the event's elements really well than to try to cover it all.

Once you have reviewed the agenda and determined exactly which elements you'd like to feature (such as keynote speakers, product launches or live demonstrations), be sure to know when and where you'll need to be to get the inside scoop. Think of yourself as a journalist: You want to be the first one at the scene of the story. Whether snagging a front-row seat for the keynote to get the best audio for your SnapChat video or arriving at a booth in time to capture the setup of a live demo, giving yourself that extra time is key to delivering unique behind-the-scenes content to your followers.

It takes time to craft posts, filter photos and add relevant hashtags (especially when you are posting on multiple platforms); aim to give yourself enough time to be posting at least once an hour, and stay focused on delivering your plan.

Bonus tip: Make sure you have a portable mobile phone charger. Without this, your takeover could be cut short!

2. Get familiar with your brand's preferred audience, voice and preferred platform(s).
You may know your own brand and audience inside and out, but when it comes time to hosting a social media takeover, it's vital that you be familiar with both the audience you are trying to reach as well as how and where to reach them to create an effective campaign. Connect with the social media or marketing team of the brand whose social media you will be taking over to get their thoughts on what has (and hasn't) worked in the past. If they're new to the social media world, ask them for feedback on marketing campaigns that have been most effective and why they think they worked.

Let them advise you on which platforms they'd like you to post on and make sure you are familiar with the platform while your colleagues are on hand to give you pointers. Never posted an Instagram story? Don't panic! Try it out on your personal account and ask for feedback well in advance.

Bonus tip: Make sure you have a list of all the platform user names and passwords that you'll be posting to, and take it with you to the event.

3. Know the key players, handles and hashtags of the event.
One of the most important parts of putting together your pre-event plan is to create a list of the relevant brands and people you want to interact with on social media during the event, as well as their social handles and hashtags that will be used to ensure you are a part of the bigger conversation happening online.

For each topic or session that you plan to cover during your social media takeover, research the social media accounts of the companies or people that you plan to feature. Be sure to like their Facebook pages and follow them on Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat. Tagging them in your post and including any of the hashtags they use means you'll spread your event's reach farther.

Bonus tip: Be sure to follow the event organizers and feature them in your posts. They'll love your support, and you'll increase your opportunities to engage with their audience.

During the event
4. Greet your audience.
At the heart of every successful social media campaign is creating a personal relationship with your audience. This is especially true during a social media takeover, as you're communicating with a new audience and it's important to gain their trust in order to capture their attention.

Introduce yourself in your first post of the day on all of your platforms; there's no harm in dropping in a little selfie, too. Let the audience know who you are and what you'll be sharing with them each day. Use hashtags that highlight you are taking over on all of your posts -- e.g., #KatieJTakesover.

Bonus tip: Not all platforms are hashtag appropriate, so be sure to sign off your posts in the same way each time. Remember, not everyone will have seen your introduction post.

5. Post live videos.
Live videos are what really bring a social medial takeover to life! Don't worry about polishing or editing your video to perfection; the fact that it's raw and gritty makes it all the more authentic and relatable. You'll also notice that the engagement you generate from a video post is far greater than standard text and image posts.

There are many different channels that support live video, but if you have a strong following on Facebook, Facebook Live is a great way to interact with an existing audience. Instagram allows you to post videos up to 60 seconds long.

Bonus tip: Remember that quality is better than quantity; try to keep your videos under 60 seconds to always leave your viewers wanting more. You don't want to oversaturate them with content or bore them by hanging around too long. Keep it brief and they'll keep an eye out for your next post.

6. Give the people what they want.
Successful social media interactions should be just that: interactions. Focus on creating a two-way conversation to create engagement. Ask the audience what they'd like you to share with them. Engaging in a conversation with your new community will help you find out more about what they want to see or learn. As you are their eyes and ears into the event, you want to make sure you're highlighting what's most interesting to them.

Depending on the type of event you are covering, you can ask your followers if there's something specific that they want to see -- a new product launch, an upcoming artist performance, etc.

Bonus tip: To increase engagement, craft posts that invite conversation. Ask questions.

After the event
7. Report and repeat.
When the event has ended, take time to review and analyze your results. Look at the performance of the different post types on the various social channels. Determine which posts created the most engagement and on which platforms. You should see some trends that can help offer insight for future events, and you should also notice a spike in engagement compared with a nontakeover day.

Armed with these results, you should be even more prepared for your next takeover.

Katie Jackson is the brand manager for boats.com.