Influencer marketing is a trendy topic these days, but it doesn't require a lot of work or a ton of money to harness the power of influencers on your brand's social media channels — and hosting something called an Instagram takeover is one of the lowest-effort, most organic ways to do just that.
Not sure what we're talking about? Instagram takeovers involve a person or brand posting on your Instagram channel to give followers a peek at new and unique content from another perspective. Here's an example of our friends at WeWork taking over our Instagram account:
In this post, we'll dive into how to host your own Instagram takeover to drive engagement, brand awareness, and positive outcomes for your brand.
What's an Instagram Takeover?
An Instagram takeover is when someone temporarily takes over another Instagram account to share original content and engage with that account's audience. The most common Instagram takeovers are ones where an influencer or celebrity takes over a brand's account.
But there are several different approaches to Instagram takeovers that can be beneficial to your brand.
Other types of Instagram takeovers can include:
- Employee takeovers
- Customer or community member takeovers
- Event takeovers
- Product or offer promotions
Instagram takeovers are mutually beneficial for the guest Instagrammer and the host account. The host can bring valuable new content to their followers without having to create it themselves, and the guest is able to reach an entirely new audience by posting on another account.
Plus, Instagram takeovers help cultivate good-faith relationships between influencers that can create inroads for future collaboration and cross-promotion.
Now, let's dive into how to get started with your Instagram takeover.
How to Host an Instagram Takeover
1. Choose what you want to accomplish.
Before choosing a guest to host your brand's Instagram, you have to determine what you want to achieve with the takeover. Ideally, your Instagram takeover will achieve multiple positive results — but choosing a primary goal of the campaign will help determine which type of guest to invite.
Instagram takeover goals could include:
- Increasing brand awareness. This can be measured by the number of new followers the Instagram account gains as a result of the takeover.
- Promoting a product, event, or offer. This can be measured by the number of event registrations, offer redemptions, or lead form submissions as a result of the takeover.
- Driving engagement within the Instagram community. This can be measured by the number of likes, comments, video and story views, and link clicks as a result of the takeover.
2. Pick your guest Instagrammer.
Now that you know your goal, you'll have an easier time finding a guest who can make it happen.
For example, the team behind the award-winning musical Hamilton wanted to familiarize fans with the plays revolving cast members.
To do this, Hamilton started #SwingSaturday on Instagram in which a cast member who is prepared to play multiple roles (known as a swing) takes over the official Hamilton Instagram.
There are a few types of guest Instagrammers you can invite to create content for your takeover:
- Influencers within your industry
- Employees at your company
- Community members or customers
While it's certainly possible for Instagram takeover guests to accomplish multiple goals, we recommend choosing your guest with the most effective strategy in mind.
- Influencers will draw their followers to your Instagram with their endorsement of your brand, so they're the best fit if your primary goal is to increase brand awareness by growing followers.
- Employees will attract interest from their friends and colleagues who want a behind-the-scenes look at what they do at work every day. They're the best fit if your primary goal is to drive engagement on Instagram.
- Community members and customers will post enthusiastically about your brand and show the value of your product. They're the best fit if your primary goal is to promote a product, event, offer, sign-up, or download.
Again, these goals aren't mutually exclusive. Ideally, the content your guest creates will be highly engaging, shareable, and compelling to the viewer.
3. Decide on the content format and takeover logistics.
Once you've figured out what you want to accomplish and who will host your takeover, it's time to nail down the specifics of how the takeover will run. Below are our suggestions of questions to answer when you meet with your takeover host:
- When are you hosting the Instagram takeover, and how long will it last?
- Who will manage the account? Will the guest get access to your Instagram credentials, or will they send you content and captions to post on their behalf?
- How many times per day will the host post takeover content? If you have an optimal publishing schedule in mind, what times per day will the host need to post?
- What hashtags will be used? Will you create a custom hashtag to promote the takeover? Is there a maximum amount of hashtags you want the guest to use in any given caption?
- Which types of content will be shared during the takeover? Will the guest post photos, videos, Instagram Stories, or live videos? Will they post a combination of these formats?
- How will both the guest and the host promote the takeover on Instagram? Will you agree to promotion on Instagram or other channels leading up to the event?
- Are there any guardrails? Is there anything the guest shouldn't record or mention over the course of the takeover?
Once the details of the takeover are finalized, decide how you'll measure success over the course of the event.
4. Determine metrics to track during the takeover.
Depending on the goals of your Instagram takeover, some of these metrics will be more important than others. Below are the metrics we recommend tracking over the course of your takeover:
- # of new followers
- # of likes
- # of comments
- # of mentions
- # of direct messages
- # of Instagram Story views
- # of live video viewers
- # of Instagram Story clicks
- # of offer redemptions/app downloads (if you promote a landing page)
- # of attendees or sign-ups (if you promote an event)
- Total social referral traffic to your website
Qualitative metrics to keep track of could also include positive comments on Instagram.
5. Promote the takeover across multiple platforms.
Once you've figured out the details of your Instagram takeover, it's time to start getting people excited about it.
A day or two before the event, start promoting your upcoming Instagram takeover. If there are any contests, giveaways, or other incentives for people to follow along, make those clear in your promotions.
Of course, you need to promote the upcoming takeover on Instagram — especially if the takeover is happening within Instagram Stories or Instagram Live and you want to drive visitors to view those spots within the app.
However, you also need to promote the takeover on other social media channels to attract as many people to your campaign as possible. This is especially necessary if your brand's Instagram account isn't as developed or engaged as other channels.
The host and the guest should promote the takeover on a few of their channels leading up to the event to get both audiences as engaged and excited as possible.
6. Launch the takeover.
On the day of the takeover, it's all systems go.
Make sure you have one team member monitoring comments and one team member uploading content to Instagram (if applicable). Remember, users can now upload content from desktop computers in addition to the mobile app, which can make the process easier from the office.
Throughout the day, cross-promote content that the guest is posting on their channels to help draw new people to your own Instagram takeover event.
Make sure to communicate when the takeover is starting and ending. Note in captions when the first and last posts are happening so viewers aren't confused or abruptly left in the lurch, wondering if there's more content forthcoming.
7. Analyze the results.
Once the takeover is over, it's time to analyze its performance. Use the performance data from the takeover to determine how (or if) you'll do your next takeover differently. Here are some questions to ask in your post-takeover analysis:
- Did we achieve our goal? Did you earn more Instagram followers, achieve high levels of engagement, or get visitors to sign up for your offer?
- Did we achieve secondary goals? Did the takeover result in other net benefits for your brand and your business?
- Was the takeover worthwhile? Did it save you time and energy creating your own content, or did it create extra work? Did it drive a push of traffic and engagement, or did numbers remain mostly the same?
Even if the takeover doesn't drive hard numbers for your business's bottom line, takeovers are authentic and real. They also provide an inside look at an aspect of your brand or community followers don't normally see.
And just because a takeover didn't achieve your desired results on the first launch it doesn't mean you shouldn't give it another try later. That's why you need to track its progress and results so that you can do better next time.
Social media is about being social, so pay attention to qualitative feedback, too. If commenters respond positively to the takeover, take their feedback and use it for ideating future Instagram campaigns.
Instagram Takeover Examples
Here are examples of some excellent Instagram takeovers:
1. Broadway Plus
To promote its brand to Broadway fans, Broadways Plus had Hadestown actress Kimberly Marable takeover the company's Instagram stories. The takeover was promoted the day before by sharing a clip of Kimberly and the rest of the cast singing during an NPR Tiny Desk concert.
During the takeover, Marable shared exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the Hadestown tour and gave followers of the account a glimpse into the day in the life of a Broadway performer. This worked in Marable's favor as well because doing so promoted the Hadestown tour to more Broadway fans.
What I Like About This Instagram Takeover
This takeover provided timely and relevant content to fans of Broadway by having a prominent star give an exclusive look into a current tour. Marable was able to share content that only she would have access to, making the takeover that much more valuable.
2. Fenty Beauty
Celebrity makeup artist Nina Ubhi took over cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty's Instagram account stories in 2020. The goal was to show how makeup lovers can use brand's products to achieve the perfect spring look.
During the takeover, Ubhi gave quick makeup tutorials using Fenty Beauty products while also showcasing her skills as a makeup artist.
What I Like About This Instagram Takeover
This takeover brings value to both current and potential Fenty Beauty customers. Not only did Ubhi promote the brand's products, but followers of the account learned how to apply the makeup and create new looks.
As we mentioned before, an Instagram takeover can be just as beneficial for the guest as it is for the host. For example, the boy band Why Don't We promoted their music and tour by taking over Billboard magazine's Instagram account. During the takeover, the band shared behind-the-scenes tour footage and live-streamed portions of their concerts.
What I Like About This Instagram Takeover
The takeover was a treat for general music fans as well as fans of the band thanks to the exclusive content and concert performances. The live-streamed concerts from the band's performances especially created an immersive experience for Billboard followers.
4. MS Association of America
To raise awareness for multiple sclerosis, the MS Association of America had actress Selma Blair take over the association's Instagram to share her experience with the disease. During the takeover, Blair read an excerpt from her autobiography "Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up" that details how MS has impacted her life.
What I Like About This Instagram Takeover
Having a celebrity living with MS be the guest for the takeover was a great way to raise awareness of the disease. The videos of Blair reading excerpts from her book gave a personal touch that provided insight and stirred emotions from followers.
Online clothing store ASOS teamed up with Neom Organics by having the organic beauty line company takeover the ASOS Instagram account. This showed ASOS customers that Neom is available at the online retailer and it introduced Neom Organics to a new audience.
What I Like About This Takeover
This is another great example of mutually beneficial takeover for both the guest and host. ASOS showed its range as an online retailer but showing that it sells more than just clothes and accessories — customers can also turn to the company for skincare needs as well.
At the same time, Neom Organics used the opportunity to promote its products, reach new potential leads, and provide information on where its products can be found — at ASOS.
And there you have it — a helpful checklist to launch a successful Instagram takeover and five examples to inspire you. For more ideas on how to drive results for your brand, follow us on Instagram, and download our guide to Instagram for business here.
Has your brand ever hosted an Instagram takeover? Share with us in the comments below.