An Instagram takeover is when someone temporarily takes over another account to create and share content—usually on behalf of a brand. The takeover host might be a celebrity, an influencer, or even a team member.

There’s a reason why takeovers are a popular activity on Instagram. As with a crossover episode of two great shows (like the COPS episode of X-Files), it adds excitement and novelty to your content calendar, and gives your brand a big boost in the process.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • How an Instagram takeover can benefit your brand
  • A step-by-step guide to executing a successful takeover
  • Real examples of Instagram account takeovers to inspire you

Why run an Instagram takeover?

An Instagram account takeover is a win-win situation for both parties.

Benefits for businesses

As a business, a takeover can help you:

Reach new followers

By inviting an influencer to take over your account, you’ll be able to connect with their followers too!

You can reach large audiences by partnering with popular influencers or celebrities, but there’s also value in working with an influencer who has a smaller but specialized audience. If you’re looking to connect with a niche group, or reach a new market segment, the right takeover host can help you do that.

Share fresh, authentic content

Influencers are great at what they do because they know how to connect with an audience. During a takeover, you and your followers benefit from their distinctive voice and perspective.

Build trust

Instagram users have confidence in the influencers they follow. One in five has bought a product based on an influencer’s recommendation. And among Gen Z audiences, influencers can be even more persuasive than traditional celebrity endorsements. A takeover is a tacit approval from that influencer, which shows that your brand is also credible and trustworthy.

Pique interest and boost engagement

A takeover is a special event that encourages your audience to pay special attention to your account while it’s happening. If you’re sharing a new product, launching a campaign, or promoting an event, this surge of interest can be especially valuable.

Benefits for influencers

Instagram takeovers enable you to:

Grow your audience

Partnering with a brand allows you to connect with their followers, who likely share your interests and values. The takeover is a chance for you to make a great impression and show them why they should be following you, too!

Develop your credibility

Whatever your niche on Instagram—fashion, food, fitness, even yachts— partnering with a relevant brand shows that you know your stuff.

Generate content for your account

You can (and should!) promote the takeover on your Instagram, too. And if you’re taking over a brand’s account for a behind-the-scenes look at a campaign or product, you have the opportunity to share exclusive Stories and posts with your followers.

Seize special opportunities

Instagram is all about sharing experiences with your followers, and brands can provide access to incredible places and events. For instance, curator Kimberly Rose Drew travelled to Milan for a takeover with Prada:

How to run an Instagram takeover in 7 steps

Now that you know why you should run an Instagram account takeover, let’s tackle the how.

Instagram takeovers should look seamless and easy from your audience’s point of view. But the key to making it all work is preparation and planning! Set yourself up for success by following these 7 easy steps.

1. Set a goal

What do you want to accomplish with your takeover? Getting clear on your purpose will guide the rest of your strategy, from who should host the takeover to the metrics you’ll use to measure success.

For instance, your aim might be:

  • Growing your audience
  • Promoting a new product
  • Launching a campaign
  • Boosting engagement during a special event

A takeover can help you accomplish any of these goals.

2. Choose your takeover host

Your guest star should be someone whose voice and values are aligned with your brand. After all, you want them to be themselves (that’s the point!) so their authentic self should be a natural fit.

Here are a few things to think about.

Your takeover host’s audience should match your target market, so take a close look at their followers. If you’re trying to reach older customers, an influencer who’s popular with Gen Z users probably isn’t the best fit, no matter how great their content is.

Review their posts and Stories. Read their captions and watch their Stories to get a feel for their voice and how it fits with your brand.

Look at what other companies they’ve worked with in the past. Do they share a healthy ratio of organic content to sponsored posts? Are any past partnerships raising flags for you?

Check for audience engagement. You can’t see all their metrics, of course, but comparing the number of likes and comments on their posts to their follower count should give you a sense of their engagement rate. You want to see that their audience is interested in what they’re posting!

Here are some more tips for finding the right influencer.

In lieu of partnering with an influencer or celebrity, you can also let an employee host a takeover! Bon Appetit hands over the reins to various members of the editorial team for city- and event-specific takeovers.

Instagram takeover by Bon Appetit

Likewise, the Auckland Zoo hands over its account to staff for in-depth features on animal habitats.

This option probably won’t help you reach new audiences, but it’s a low-risk option for generating some fun content.

3. Decide on the format and length of your takeover

Some takeovers span the length of a special event (like the Met Gala). Others showcase a day in the life of an influencer.

While those are the most common arrangements, there’s no reason you can’t have a longer takeover if it supports the goal!

Once you’ve determined the length of your takeover, plan it out with your host.

  • Will it include posts to the feed, Stories, or both?
  • How many posts do you expect?
  • Will there be interactive features, like a Q+A?

This is a good time to go over any must-have topics or content, as well as the look and feel of your account. An Instagram style guide can be a helpful resource here!

Discussing the big picture with your takeover host will help you both prepare for success.

That doesn’t mean hammering out every tiny detail, though. You want to provide some structure and be transparent about your expectations, while still giving them the freedom to express themselves authentically.

4. Choose a hashtag

This step could be optional, if your takeover is part of a bigger campaign that has a hashtag already. But a hashtag can be a useful tool here!

Branded hashtags help to drive engagement, and they also make it easy to find all the content related to your takeover.

It unifies the content posted on your company’s account, as well as your takeover host’s personal account. And later, it’ll be easy to find and reshare your takeover content!

For example, when Game of Thrones actress (and Instagram queen) Sophie Turner took over the Entertainment Weekly account, the hashtag #EWxGOT made it easy to follow.

If you do a series of takeovers, or a regular takeover event (like #TakeoverTuesdays), the hashtag can also link them together.

5. Promote your takeover

Now for the fun part: sharing your upcoming takeover with your audience! You and your host should both post about the takeover in advance, to let your followers know when it’s happening.

In addition to posting on your Instagram account (naturally), you should also promote it on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and any other social channels you use.

Provide your takeover host with images or graphics so they can share with their audience too. Don’t forget to include your hashtag!

6. Do the takeover!

Ready for the big day? There are two ways to execute your takeover.

You can hand over the keys (that is, the login details) and let your host post natively from your account.

If your takeover is tied to a live event, posting in real time is important. Likewise, if you want your host to field questions or respond to audience comments, you’ll probably need to give them account access.

However, if those aren’t a part of your takeover plan, you can also request prepared content to schedule and share yourself!

With this method, your takeover host will send you content in advance, which you’ll post on the day of the takeover.

Pre-shot content can be more secure, as you can review content before posting and keep your password information to yourself.

Both takeover methods have advantages, and can work for you. Ultimately, what you decide will depend on the goals of your Instagram takeover, as well as your comfort level.

7. Measure your results

Congratulations, you did it! While you’re basking in the afterglow of a successful takeover, don’t forget about the sexiest part of social media: the metrics.

As with any activity on social, measurement is key to learning and growth. Take a look at the numbers to help you figure out what worked and where you can improve next time.

The most important metrics for evaluating your takeover will depend on your goals, but you’ll likely want to take a peek at Story views, engagement stats, and follower growth.

Want some help measuring your results? Here are the best Instagram analytics tools!

Examples of successful Instagram takeovers

Looking for inspiration for your own takeover? Here are a few brands that did it well.

Fenty Beauty – Real Influencer Takeovers

Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty celebrates women of color, and their social media is no different. They stand out from other beauty brands by engaging genuinely and enthusiastically with diverse make-up artists.

For instance, their Fenty Family Takeovers showcased beauty influencers and make-up artists creating flawless looks with Fenty products. Takeover hosts shared their tips and tricks in Stories, which are archived on Fenty’s YouTube channel.

One reason these takeovers worked so well? Perfect alignment between the host and the company. The takeovers featured influencers who reflected the brand values and were excited and knowledgeable about the products.

Rather than providing a long takeover featuring one host, Fenty did a series of short takeovers with many beauty influencers. This is an option for your brand too, if you want to show off a range of products or facets of your community.

#YouNetflix – Cast Takeovers

It’s too perfect that a show about the hazards of oversharing on social media would promote itself through oversharing on social media.

You amped up its Netflix release with a series of cast takeovers on Instagram. These featured the stars answering audience questions, sharing a glimpse of their real lives, and discussing their characters.

This takeover was the perfect strategy for the very Gen Z show. You understood that its audience was not only watching the episodes but talking about them on social media, and made sure to be a part of those discussions.

Younger audiences expect a high level of brand engagement, and takeovers are one way to offer those personal connections. If those are the customers you’re trying to reach, a takeover is an effective tactic.

National Geographic – Feature Story Takeovers

National Geographic has one of the biggest followings on Instagram, with a mind-boggling 110 million followers.

Their secret is posting stunning photography with insightful, detailed captions. Each post is like a peek into one of their gorgeous issues.

Beyond their posts, National Geographic also understands the value of a takeover. They’ve used them to go deeper into featured stories and share behind-the-scenes videos and photos.

A story on isolated peoples in the Amazon in their October issue was complemented by an Instagram takeover from photographer Chris Hamilton Jones.

Unlike some of our other takeover examples, this one is more slick. Instead of being shot live, the Stories were pre-recorded and edited to include captions and text for more details.

Instagram takeover by National Geographic

This meant the production quality was in line with National Geographic’s other content. Even though it provides the “behind the scenes” feeling of a takeover, it still looks amazing.

And it also provided NatGeo with more control in the release of the takeover, and more security. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your account details, here’s how prepared content can work for you.

And come to think of it, it’s probably hard to get good reception for uploading videos in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Sometimes there are unique considerations that affect your takeover!

Little, Brown and Company – Author Takeovers

Publisher Little, Brown and Company uses takeovers to introduce their followers to authors and new books.

The takeovers are a friendly, accessible look into the life of a writer. In the feed, they share photos from their daily routines and favorite hangouts.

In Stories, they answer reader questions and provide advice to other aspiring writers.

For the bibliophiles who follow Little Brown, this is exactly the kind of content they love to see. I speak from personal experience when I say that most avid readers are aspiring novelists at heart.

This example really demonstrates the win-win nature of a takeover. The authors get the opportunity to interact with fans and readers, just like a virtual literary event, and promote their new books.

For Little, Brown, the takeovers help to promote new releases, driving sales and engagement. They also supply a ton of thoughtful, funny content. You can count on novelists to write great captions, after all.

Instagram takeover by Little Brown

Feeling inspired by these examples? Get started on planning your own takeover! We can’t wait to tune in.

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