Run an Unforgettable Instagram Takeover in 5 Steps12 min read


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Instagram takeovers are a powerful way to accomplish several Instagram marketing objectives, such as increasing brand awareness, gaining access to new audiences, and boosting engagement on your platform!

The best part is you don’t even have to do the heavy lifting of creating the content. That’s because with an Instagram Takeover, you’ll bring on a guest host to create specific content for your Instagram account and (sometimes) manage engagement for the day.

Hitting marketing goals while kicking back and letting someone else manage your content for the day? Sounds like a vacation to us! However, there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into organizing and running a successful Instagram takeover.

Let’s dive into the process, and we’ll give you some tips to make your first Instagram takeover a home run!

We’ve also included some amazing insight from Jeff Sieh of Manly Pinterest Tips and the Instagram Manager for Social Media Examiner and the three-day annual conference Social Media Marketing World.

Jeff runs multiple Instagram takeovers throughout the year to promote the conference and feature marketing influencers who will be speaking at the conference.

Want to grow your Instagram followers faster? Get this free checklist for 16 quick, easy wins you can immediately use to build an audience.

Why Are Instagram Takeovers So Effective?

Instagram takeovers are all over the place, with everyone from major retailers to Broadway shows creating content with guest hosts.

A successful Instagram takeover benefits just about everyone involved. Your guest gains access to a new audience who may then decide to follow them.

Meanwhile, having a well-known host collaborate with your account is a major endorsement that can hugely beneficial to your marketing goals. Your followers get added value from your guests’ unique perspective and the content they create for the takeover, amping up their engagement with your brand!

Social Media Examiner uses Instagram Takeovers to bring exposure to their annual Social Media Marketing World conference.

“We do takeovers to highlight our speakers (especially our Instagram speakers), let them share what they will be teaching in their sessions, and also to promote the conference.”

Jeff Sieh

Why is this an effective strategy for Social Media Examiner? According to Jeff, the access to a new audience is a huge driver. “We are able to share the speaker’s audiences. Most all of the speakers share the news on their personal account [that they are doing a takeover on Social Media Examiner’s account]. That puts our message and branding in front of people who may not have heard about the conference.”

Speaking of content, you might be wondering exactly what your takeover guest will be putting on your Instagram account.

Let’s talk over your content options!

How Your Guest Host Can Contribute To Your Instagram Account

You might be wondering about the kind of content your guest host can create for your Instagram takeover. Depending on your goals for the takeover, your guest host can add a ton of value to your account with interviews, tutorials, Q&A sessions on Instagram Live, and behind-the-scenes-access on Instagram Stories. Your guest host can add to these IG content vehicles and play on them to interact with your followers for a day.

Your guest host can also create Instagram posts on your feed, or do this in addition to Stories content.

Beautiful Bizarre Magazine hosts an IG takeover every month by actors, artists, photographers and influencers to share their unique perspective on favorite art pieces.

Psst … Tailwind for Instagram is so useful for scheduling these posts out in advance – you can even use our 9-grid preview to see what your guests’ planned content will look like in your feed before it’s published!

Okay, we’ve talked about the whats and whys of Instagram takeovers…now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of planning and running an Instagram takeover!

How To Run an Instagram Takeover From Start to Finish

The success of your Instagram takeover really comes down to the amount of planning you do beforehand. This doesn’t just mean scheduling the takeover, coordinating with your guest, and picking the right hashtags. It also means deciding on your goals, plotting metrics, and creating a content plan.

Here’s how you do it, step by step!

Step One: Decide on Your Goals

Although Instagram takeovers can be fun and interactive for your audience, ideally there are some goals behind your choice. Decide on at least one specific goal for the takeover. This could be:

  • boosting brand awareness,
  • promoting an event, product, or service,
  • or simply getting your existing audience to engage more with your content.

Ideally, the goal or goals you choose for the takeover will help inform your choice for a guest. That’s the next step – choosing the right person to help enhance your Instagram marketing strategy and meet your social media goals!

Step Two: Choose Your Guest

When you think of your dream guest host, you might immediately visualize an industry influencer or celebrity. Although fame and a high follower count may seem like the first thing you should look for, this isn’t necessarily the case.

Sure, the more followers your guest host has, the more exposure your brand might have to their audience, but follower count isn’t everything. Instead, you should carefully choose a collaborator who is in line with your brand image and values. Furthermore, your guest host should be able to add real value for your audience with their content.

Brush pen company Tombow did a takeover collaboration with popfizzpaper to teach followers how to create a Mother’s Day card.

Here are some options to consider:

  • A Representative from Another Company or Brand
    • Helps gain exposure for similar complementary brands
    • Widens potential market for your goods or services
    • Creates combined value proposition
  • An Influencer In Your Industry or Space
    • Offers relevant insights to your followers
    • Effectively endorses your brand
    • Opens door for additional collaborations with same and other influencers
  • An Employee or Team Member
    • Highlights company culture
    • Offers unique perspective from inside the company
    • Helps build emotional connection/ loyalty with your brand
  • A Customer or Client
    • Highlights and emphasizes community
    • Makes your audience feel their opinion is valued
    • Acts as an endorsement/ positive review for your products or services

Step Three: Plan Your Content Approach with Your Guest

In this step, you answer the key questions about content with your guest before the big day. These questions include what, how much, and how often!

This step is important to iron out beforehand, so that plenty of thought and care goes into the content before the big day. Waiting until the last minute could mean that you or your guest misses posting at peak times when your audience is most engaged. It also increases room for error!

Pssst.. Not sure when your audience engagement and attention is at its peak? Tailwind can help! Our Smartschedule uses smart analytics to figure out the times your followers are on Instagram and most likely to be engaged with your content, then uses that data to make a custom schedule just for you.

Decide what kind of content it makes sense for your guest to create. It should be on brand for both you and them. For example, you wouldn’t choose an insurance expert to takeover interaction with your followers if you ran, say, a wedding photography business. Your chosen guest host should know a lot about your niche and be able to speak to your audience on topics that interest them.

Next, you’ll create a rough schedule for you and your guest to follow. This will keep the process streamlined, flowing and allow your guest to maximize their time engaging in comments and video.

Start a Free Trial of Tailwind for Instagram!

Insider Tip: Figure Out Your Access Plan

One thing you’ll definitely want to decide ahead of time is how much access you want to give your guest host. Ideally, you trust your employee/ industry influencer/ brand rep etc. completely, and have no security concerns!

However, when you share your password over the world wide web there’s always a chance your profile could be compromised.

If you want your guest host to have full access to your profile (this means giving your password to them before the event) then consider doing the following:

  • Create a temporary password for your guest to use a few days before the event
  • Change the password immediately after the takeover is complete

If you prefer, you can have your guest host send the content, posts, and videos ahead of time for you to post on their behalf. Keep in mind that this is pretty labor-intensive for you, and your influencer may feel a little more limited by this option. Plus, your host won’t be able to go live or respond to comments from your profile when you use this method – though they can certainly comment from their own accounts, which may be even better as people see conclusively that this is a genuine partnership!

Jeff opts for this method when running a takeover.

“The speakers send us their Stories that they have filmed and downloaded.  The tell us the specific order as well as any stickers, hashtags, or links that they would like to include in their Stories.”

Jeff Sieh

You can collect content pieces and videos any way you like from your guest hosts. Some of the most popular options for Social Media Marketing World are Dropbox, Google Drive and even Facebook Messenger!

Belletrist frequently hosts an IG takeover session called Stacked, where featured guests (usually authors like Phoebe Robinson) show followers their bookshelves at home and talk about the who’s, hows and whys of their personal book curation.

Step Four: Schedule Your Event and Promote Like Crazy

If you’ve made it this far in your plan to run a successful Instagram takeover, you’re in the home stretch! Now it’s time to schedule and promote your takeover!

After all, you want as many of your followers and your guests followers as possible to tune in and interact with the takeover! Promotion leading up to the event also clues your followers in to keep an eye out for special posts throughout the day.

At least one week prior to the event, promote the takeover on your Instagram account and other social media. You could make a promotional graphic for your feed, mention it a few times on your IG Stories and blast the word on Twitter and Facebook. Encourage your guest to do the same.

Maybe it’s the alliteration, or maybe it’s the plethora of hashtags that already exist for this purpose! #TakeoverTuesday

Step Four: Time For a Takeover

It’s the big day! Prepping for the day of the takeover may be a little or a lot of work depending on the arrangement you’ve made with your guest host.

If you’ve both decided on a limited access takeover, where you’re posting content on behalf of your guest host, you’ll need to gather the content pieces and post them at the planned time. This includes images and videos, but don’t forget the important puzzle pieces like captions and hashtags!

Ahem… stressed about organizing your guest hosts’ content, posting it at the right time and picking the right hashtags to reach a larger audience? Tailwind can help! Upload a draft of your post, then use Hashtag Finder to find the best hashtags for your content. You can even click a button to hide your hashtags in the first comment – it’s super easy.

And remember that SmartSchedule tool we mentioned earlier? This feature will keep your takeover content on schedule and primed for maximum engagement. Try it free #TailwindTakesOnTakeovers

Even if you’ve given your guest host complete access to your IG account, you’ll want to stick around on your personal account for a few reasons. One, you can make sure that things go off without a hitch and your guest host is able to get content up on-time with no issues! Secondly, you’ll want to kick off interactions on posts, videos and live to break the ice and get the conversation going.

Step Five: Check Out Your Metrics

After your Instagram takeover, it could be tempting to rest on your laurels and call it a job well done. However, you should take a moment to assess your metrics after the takeover to figure out if you need to adjust your approach for next time.

The goals you choose for the takeover in the beginning should inform the metrics you choose to determine the takeovers ultimate success. For example, if your goal for the takeover was to reach a wider audience, then you should consider new followers gained from the start of the takeover to the end (or a few days after for followers to play catch up).

Tailwind’s Profile Performance Dashboard is a great resource for tracking this. You can measure your daily follower growth in an easy-to-read graph and see exactly how many followers you gained… as well as any you lost. 🙁

If you geared your IG takeover more towards driving interaction and engagement, then likes and comments are a great indicator of how well the event accomplished this goal. Rather than hand counting comments and heading to the post on your app to see likes (snore!) you can check out Tailwind’s Post Inspector!

On Post Inspector, you can sort all your recent posts by date posted, number of likes, and number of comments. You can even filter by type (image or video) to get a better idea of how one piece of content performs versus another.

Jeff uses Instagram Analytics to monitor how well an IG Story does with Social Media Marketing World’s target audience. “We frequently look at the impressions of each content piece, as well as exit rates, next story rates and how often someone goes back to watch the story again to see how well a particular Story performs.”

Final Thoughts

By now, you’re feeling ready to take over the world… or at least run an amazing Instagram takeover!

Running an Instagram takeover is a powerful way to meet your social media marketing strategy goals. Whether your goal is to connect with industry influencers to find new potential followers or boost engagement with the followers you already have, Instagram takeovers are a fun, fresh strategy to keep in your toolbox.

Make sure to measure your growth and engagement through Tailwind’s Instagram Analytics and Reporting dashboard. This will give you valuable insight into how your existing audience interacted with your takeover content as well as what worked and what didn’t work.

All of these details will help make your next takeover even more amazing!

Want to grow your Instagram followers faster? Get this free checklist for 16 quick, easy wins you can immediately use to build an audience.

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