How to Run a Successful Instagram Takeover

Working on the next I Heart ROC Instagram takeover

Working on the next I Heart ROC Instagram takeover

For over three years now, I’ve been working on a project called I Heart ROC. We tell the stories of Rochesterians living in and loving Rochester, NY. One of the ways we’ve been able to grow our following is through Instagram takeovers. When I joined in May 2016, we had about 800 Instagram followers. By October 2019, we’d reached 13,000 followers. Because Instagram takeovers have been such an effective strategy for us and for many others, I thought I’d share some tips on how to run a successful Instagram takeover.

First things first, what is an Instagram takeover?

An Instagram takeover is when a brand account, business, or influencer allows someone else to “take over” their feed or Stories for a set period of time, sharing their perspective to freshen things up. It’s a great opportunity to mix up the type of content you share, offering something new and interesting to your audience that they’ll genuinely be interested in. Some Instagram takeovers run for just a day; others, like I Heart ROC’s, last for a full week. Our takeovers also culminate with the publication of a longform interview on our website.

Who’s doing Instagram takeovers?

Lots of major accounts do Instagram takeovers! One of my favorites is Girls’ Night In, a community of women who’d rather stay in. Each Sunday, they have a different influencer take over their Instagram Stories, sharing how they relax and recharge on Sundays. It’s always fun to see who they choose and what they share.

How do you pick who should take over?

The key to selecting the ideal person for an Instagram takeover is knowing your audience. What are they into? What content resonates with them most? You’ll want to find someone who creates the kind of content your followers enjoy, understands social media, and is willing to partner with you. There’s no need to rush into selecting someone for an Instagram takeover. Do your research, follow them on social for awhile and engage with them, and develop a relationship before making the ask.

What’s in it for them?

Whoever you ask to take over your feed should be able to see mutual benefit in the partnership. They’ll have to create content for your audience, but ideally, it’s an audience that’s helpful for them to get in front of. For example, Girls’ Night In often features authors in their Sunday takeover series, which helps them get in front of an audience of introverted women. It’s a win-win.

Set ground rules.

Once you’ve chosen the person who will be taking over your feed, you’ll need to set some ground rules. Will they be sending you photos and copy ahead of time, and you’ll be posting it, or will you give them access to the account and allow them to post freely? 

Either option is fine, but it’s crucial to discuss this ahead of time so both parties know what the plan is. For I Heart ROC, we have each person send us their photos and captions one week in advance of their takeover kickoff. This allows us to proofread the captions and make any necessary edits. We also schedule all posts with a scheduling tool (a real time-saver that I highly recommend to all my clients!).

If you opt to let the person taking over post freely, make sure you have a game plan for giving them a temporary password to the account, then switching the password afterwards. You’ll also need to keep a close eye on content as it goes up to make sure the person doesn’t go rogue on you. You should certainly pick a person you trust, but monitoring the takeover just in case is always a good idea.

Don’t forget to tag and cross-promote.

Announce the takeover in advance in an in-feed post and a Story, and ask the person taking over to share it to their own account. This kind of cross-promotion will maximize the reach of your takeover by getting it in front of their audience as well as your own.

In each Story and post throughout the takeover, be sure to tag the person’s account. This ensures that 1) it’s clear who the post is coming from and 2) it’s easy for the person taking over to share the content to their own account.

Pin to Highlights.

The Highlights section of your Instagram account is important and often underutilized aspect of your ‘gram. After the takeover has concluded, pin the Stories to the Highlights section under a label such as “Takeovers.” This allows your audience to go back and view the Stories from that takeover at any time, maximizing the shelf life of that content.

Step back and analyze your results.

Here’s another often-neglected step: pause for a moment afterwards and review how things went. Carve out 30 minutes in your schedule to analyze the takeover results. Head to the Insights tab of your Instagram, and take a look at your engagement, impressions, and reach. Compare those stats to how your content typically performs, and ask yourself what worked and what didn’t. From there, you can continually improve your Instagram takeovers!

If your audience didn’t enjoy the takeover, you can always utilize the poll function and questions sticker in Instagram Stories to ask what they’d like to see in the future.

Say thank you.

Like many parts of business, social media is reliant on relationships. Make sure you take a moment to say thank you to the person who took over your Instagram. Showing your gratitude is a great way to keep that relationship strong! A simple thank you email is always appreciated.


Have you tried an Instagram takeover for your business? How did it go? I’d love to hear about it! Tweet me at @servemethesky.