When WCVA’s two volunteer champions Iris and Emma took over Volunteering Wales’ Twitter during Volunteers Week, the @VolWales account saw a significant increase in its engagement and reach. Here, they share their top tips for a successful volunteer takeover!
What is a ‘takeover’ and why should you do it?
A volunteer takeover is an experience organised by an organisation or company to involve volunteers in their social media activities. There are varying degrees of involvement during a takeover, which is up to you and your organisation to decide.
While you as a volunteer have the opportunity to gain insight into the organisation’s workings and develop skills, the organisation benefits from the fresh blood running through its veins.
The opportunity to interact with individuals that the organisation would not normally have engaged with can also help promote its agenda. Volunteers, especially in the case of younger generations, further often bring enthusiasm and passion to their tasks, which shines through to the audience.
How to start a takeover as a volunteer?
If you’re a volunteer and you’re keen to do a takeover, then talk to your volunteer coordinator.
They should be able to help you further along and put you in touch with the person responsible for the organisation’s social media accounts. A takeover should involve an ongoing dialogue between the organisation and volunteer as well as a thorough understanding of the role on both parties.
Now this all sounds well and good, but what if you as a volunteer have been asked to do a takeover, and you have no idea how to do it? It can be daunting to communicate your ideas to an entire organisation’s audience – hundreds, possibly thousands, of people. So here we are to help you with 5 easy tips on how to do a volunteer takeover!
- KNOW WHAT’S EXPECTED OF YOU
As mentioned, good communication between the organisation and volunteer is crucial to a successful takeover.
It is important that the organisation provides a clear outline of what they want a takeover to look like, providing for a distinction between the organisation’s staff members and volunteers.
This ensures that all members feel comfortable with the takeover, and the volunteers feel confident in what they are doing.
While the specific activities undertaken during the takeover should be agreed upon between the organisation, team of staff and volunteers, we have outlined some examples of what you can do:
- Create content for the takeover, including articles, blogs, videos, interviews and social media posts
- Draft a social media content plan
- Deliver the social media campaign, involving the sharing of posts and interaction with social media users
- Review the takeover experience
- PLAN PLAN AND PLAN AGAIN
You want your content to seem as organic as possible, but it’s useful to have an outline to follow for three key reasons.
The first is that you need to ensure that there is someone present to interact with users.
Depending on your time and the length of the campaign, you can get involved on one or more platforms as well as set a time for taking over.
If there is more than one volunteer (which is highly recommend as you can help each other out) you could take on different timeslots.
Secondly, in order to feel confident during the takeover, it is important to have prepared your content. You will feel more comfortable knowing your organisation agrees with your approach.
Focusing on a specific topic or theme of expertise is a great place to start and create content. The drafting of a social media content plan can further help lift the pressure during the takeover.
The final reason to plan your posts is that you want to see good engagement! If you let people know when a takeover takes place, and what topic will be relevant, you increase the chances of interaction.
A great way to spark off engagement is to have an opening post introducing introduces yourself, this familiarizes the users with the takeover and immediately opens up to lots of interaction!
Emma and Iris here! During lockdown we have been volunteering with WCVA since April as Volunteering Champions, (including this takeover) do you have any questions for us about our experiences as #lockdownvolunteers #virtualvolunteers?
— Volunteering Wales (@VolWales) June 1, 2020
- BE AWARE OF CURRENT AFFAIRS
A third easy way to ensure a good takeover is to stay up to date with current affairs.
You can’t plan for everything; unexpected events and situations can always pop up and disrupt the campaign.
It is therefore important to keep up with what is happening on social media, so you can tailor your posts accordingly.
Also remember to check with your organisation about their policy on politically orientated content!
- HAVE A SUPPORT TEAM AVAILABLE
This is a tip for the organisation running the takeover. It can be difficult to find out how to embed youth social action in your organisation, but luckily, we and many others are here to help you!
If an unexpected situation arises, or if someone makes a negative comment, volunteers may feel out of their depth. It can then be very helpful for to have a support team consisting of staff available to assist in these situations.
They stand ready to help with knowledge of the organisation’s policies and its social media. It’s definitely not part of a takeover description to do crisis management.
Further useful resources on how to embed youth social action in your organisation can be found here.
- JUST BE YOURSELF!
It sounds cliché, but it is beyond doubt the most important tip! If you let your plan, current affairs or support team interfere too much then your personal voice is lost in a mass of other voices.
While it is easy to get caught up in trying to formulate the perfect response to a comment, our best tip is therefore to avoid overthinking. Don’t let uncertainty about organisational branding and formalities drown out your personality entirely.
Whereas it is of course very important to be aware of the frames of the takeover, a takeover voice doesn’t need to comply with the usual voice of the organisation.
The point of a takeover is to bring another perspective to the platform, so let your passion shine through; this will speak to the users more than anything!
Don’t forget to have fun!
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, don’t forget to have fun. A takeover should make you feel valued and skilled, and not leave you stressed or worried.
If you have the opportunity to participate in a takeover, then we recommend doing it! Don’t feel afraid to make mistakes, you will learn along the way.
We certainly thought it was an exciting way of connecting with an engaged volunteering community!