Communications and Customer Care

A lineworker's Twitter takeover

Social media requires us to keep up with multiple channels. At JEA, we wanted to get more customers to follow us on Twitter. On Facebook, we had more than 25,000 likes, but on Twitter, we had just 2,500+ at the time.

How could we increase our Twitter following? We tried following sprees and created Follow us on Twitter" banners for Facebook. But we didn't gain many followers.

We came up with other ideas, but only one stood out: replicating James Corden's car karaoke idea, but with lineworkers. We thought karaoke might not be the best option as customers might ask why lineworkers are singing and not working. But we wanted to do something similar.

What's a Twitter takeover?

That's when the Twitter takeover idea emerged. We said, let's get a lineworker to take over JEA's Twitter account for one day — post live videos, answer frequently asked questions, and offer a behind-the-scenes look at their work. Customers wonder what lineworkers do, and often have misconceptions. Our takeover was an attempt to clear up some of those misconceptions in a fun way, and give customers a look at what goes on once a lineworker gets in a truck and starts the day. We also wanted to increase our engagement numbers on Twitter.

How did we find the right person?

Having the right person to drive the Twitter takeover is EXTREMELY important. You need to find someone who is well liked, has a great personality, and is very knowledgeable in their field.

I reached out to our linerworkers' manager and asked if he had anyone on his team who would be a good fit for the Twitter takeover. I wanted someone who wasn't camera shy and was people-friendly. The manager suggested Richard. I remembered that Richard was in a few JEA videos a while back and was a pleasure to work with. He has been a lineworker for more than 10 years.

My social media associate planned the takeover, met with Richard three times to coach him, and shadowed him on takeover day. She helped him take pictures and videos and respond to tweets. Richard rearranged his work load and saved the fun jobs for the day of the takeover. Here is one of his tweets answering Why do your neighbors sometimes have power and you don't?

Did it work?

Our goal was to gain 20 new followers — we gained seven and lost three. However, in terms of engagement, we were extremely successful. We received more than 20,000 impressions (people who see your tweets) on the day of the Twitter takeover. On a normal day, we receive around 1,000 or less. Our takeover day engagement numbers were the third highest in 2016 — Hurricane Matthew was first and Hurricane Hermine was second.

By voluntary word of mouth, we learned that our takeover was shown to several customers and they learned a lot, so we accomplished our goal of answering FAQs.

What did we learn?

Before planning the takeover, my social media associate did lots of research. She found this Hootsuite page very helpful. She analyzed other takeovers, such as #HulkTakeover. Here are some tips for a successful takeover:

  1. Have clear goals in mind. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? How will it help your brand?
  2. Think of a topic your customers always ask about. If they're interested, they will engage.
  3. Coach the takeover host ahead of time. Make him or her aware of the topic, tone, and types of videos and pictures needed.
  4. Promote, promote, promote! We promoted the takeover every two days on Facebook and Twitter — we used banners and pinned the announcement tweet/post to the top of the page. We boosted the Facebook post a few days before and the day immediately prior to the takeover. We also promoted the takeover in our monthly newsletter.
  5. For promotional social media posts, have a quick photo shoot with the host if you can. Make these posts informative. Add the date, time, official hashtag, and a short description.
  6. Have someone, like a social media manager, shadow the host and post the tweets — especially during the first takeover.
  7. During the takeover — avoid jargon, use a hashtag that's not already on Twitter, have the host introduce the show properly, and take foodie pics if you can!
  8. Have filler questions/posts prepared ahead of time, in case you run into a slow period.
  9. Share some takeover videos on Facebook to draw people to Twitter.
  10. Measure, measure, measure. We used the built-in Twitter analytics. Do before and after numbers — for followers, engagement, or whatever your goals are.

Make the first time a true learning experience. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Just learn from any mistakes and try again! Good luck with your Twitter takeover."

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