How to run an Instagram takeover

Felicity Wild
Tuesday 2 August 2016

An Instagram takeover is when a special guest is invited to temporarily take control of a brand or organisation’s Instagram account, often providing a glimpse into their lives or a behind-the-scenes look at a certain event.

In the context of Higher Education, St Lawrence University runs a community Instagram account that features a different group of students each week – usually a society or special interest group. This gives prospective students an insight into life at the university. 2016-07-28 14-40-06


Like any other type of campaign, Instagram takeovers require careful planning to be successful.

Possible reasons for deciding to undertake a takeover include:

  • growing your audience
  • boosting community engagement
  • promoting an idea, product range or event
  • fostering authenticity and collating user-generated content
  • showing behind-the-scenes insight into your community.

The host

Your choice of host very much depends on what you want to achieve with your takeover.

Two options to consider are:

An influencer

Someone with a large fan base and social following. For example, cosmetic brands often invite high profile beauty bloggers for temporary takeovers. This is a good choice if you wish to grow your audience, promote products or boost engagement.

An ambassador

This is someone from within your community. In a Higher Education context this could be a current student or a researcher. This method can help foster authenticity and share behind-the-scenes insights.


The duration of a takeover depends on its purpose, but generally they last a week with promotion leading up to the takeover, including promoting branded hashtags to allow users to join the conversation.

To avoid sending mixed messages, it is important that “business as usual” activity should stop on the account for the duration of the takeover.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

It is important not only to define what you want to achieve in advance but also how you are going to measure and quantify your success.

Depending on your aims, KPIs that you may want to consider include:

  • number of followers
  • reach
  • engagement
  • social shares
  • referral traffic (web traffic from social media)
  • share of voice (how many mentions a particular brand receives in relation to competition)
  • sentiment (how an audience feels towards a brand)

Instagram does not offer much in the way of analytics, however, there are plenty of third party apps to help with this.

Iconosquare will provide key analytics on your Instagram account including follower growth, top followers, follower location, post engagement, hashtag engagement, and optimum post time. It also allows you to track five of your main competitors to compare your performance with theirs.

Buffer has recently added support for Instagram so is a good choice if you already manage your Facebook or Twitter accounts through this tool. Much more than just a scheduling tool, Buffer gives you analytics on all your posts as well as interesting add-ons such as Pablo and Respond.

Do you have any Instagram takeover tips and tricks? Feel free to leave a comment below or contact us at [email protected].

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