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All You Need to Know About Instagram Takeovers: How to Host a Takeover in 6 Simple Steps

Alfred Lua
Alfred Lua Former Product Marketer @ Buffer
All You Need to Know About Instagram Takeovers: How to Host a Takeover in 6 Simple Steps

12 min read
You will learn

Even though Instagram takeovers seem trendy now, they first started to gain popularity back in 2012 with brands like General Electric, Burberry and Food Republic inviting Instagrammers to take over their feeds for a day.

What started out as a fun way for brands and Instagrammers to collaborate, has now transitioned into one of the valuable aspects of any Instagram marketing strategy.

If you are wondering what Instagram takeovers are and how to organize them to boost your Instagram marketing efforts, this post is for you! We’ll go through six steps of a successful Instagram takeover, covering the various types of guests and takeovers and the ways to promote your takeovers.


What is an Instagram takeover?

An Instagram takeover is the process of taking over someone else’s Instagram account temporarily and sharing content with their audience. Instagram takeovers are an incredible way for brands, individuals and influencers to collaborate and cross-promote content.

Takeovers started with brands allowing other Instagrammers to post photos to their feeds for a short period of time and have continued to evolved alongside Instagram’s feature set. Video, Stories and live video updates have all added new, and exciting, dimensions to Instagram takeovers.

Why do takeovers work so well?

According to Gary Vaynerchuk, a well-known entrepreneur and social media marketer:

These takeovers are not only fun, but are also a great example of a 50/50 value exchange—a partnership that’s mutually and equally beneficial.

With a takeover, the host gets someone who can bring value to their followers while the guest gets to reach a new audience with their content. It most cases, it’s a win-win situation.

Here’s our guide on how to organize a takeover…

6 Steps to organizing a successful Instagram takeover

1. Set goals and metrics to watch

When it comes to organizing an Instagram takeover, you might want to first consider your goals for the and the metrics you want to track.

Your goals will influence the strategy behind your takeover and the metrics you choose will allow you to measure the success of the takeover.

Here are a few goals and the relevant metrics you could consider:

  1. Increase brand awareness – Followers growth, reach, number of views, number of mentions on other channels, etc.
  2. Engage the community – Number of interactions (likes, comments, views, or direct messages), number of live viewers, etc.
  3. Promote a product or an event – Traffic to your website, number of conversions, number of attendees, etc.

For example, Kuno Creative, an inbound marketing agency, experimented with having employees take over the company’s Instagram account. Their goals were:

  1. To grow Kuno’s following, presence, and activity on Instagram
  2. To make Kuno’s company culture and values transparent and top-of-mind by consistently providing engaging visuals

The metrics they measured were followers growth and engagement rate, which they defined as (“Likes” + “Comments”) / “Followers at the end of a takeover”.

Side note: They found that the average weekly engagement rate on their Instagram account grew by +17.14% through the employee takeovers. If you are curious to learn more, Andrew Osegi of Kuno Creative wrote a great article about their employee Instagram takeovers and the things they learned from the experiment.

2. Decide on your guest

Once you have decided on your goals and metrics, the next thing to consider is who to invite as a guest. There are three common types of guests. Depending on the objective of your takeover, you might want to choose one type of guest over another.

Here are the three main types of guest you could work with for an Instagram takeover:

  1. Influencers
  2. Employees or colleagues
  3. Community members or customers

Let’s take a look at each of them below…


The most common type of guest is influencers. With this type of takeover, influencers in your industry would usually take over your account and share content aligned with their area of expertise.

Having an influencer on your company’s Instagram account is a great endorsement for your brand. It shows your followers that the influencer trusts your brand. Your followers will also benefit from being able to hear from an industry expert. It’s similar to having a well-known guest on your podcast, Facebook Live, or Twitter chat.

What are influencer takeovers good for?

  • Providing value through useful content
  • Driving social engagement
  • Raising brand awareness

Example: Last year, Brian Fanzo, millennial keynote speaker and change evangelist, took over Buffer’s Instagram Stories to share social media and community building advice.

Brian Fanzo Instagram Takeover

Employees or colleagues

The next most common type of guest is employees (or your colleagues). Through an Instagram takeover, your colleagues can give your followers an insider’s view of the company and connect with them on a personal level.

Your colleagues can share about your company from their perspectives. Their perspective of the company might be very different from yours, making such takeovers fun and entertaining for your followers. Letting them take over your company’s Instagram will also add variety to the account and allow your followers to hear from and interact with more people from your company.

What are colleagues takeovers good for?

  • Engaging your community and building relationships
  • Showcasing your company culture
  • Building your brand image

Example: In the past, we experimented with this strategy. We called it #weekinthelife where Buffer team members took turns to share about their life for a week. As a fully-distributed team, this was a fun way to share our way of working and connect with our community.

Community members or customers

You can also invite community member or customer or ambassador of your company to take over your company’s Instagram account and share their experiences that are relevant to your company and followers.

Instagram is always about community. Having community members or customers take over your company’s Instagram account shows that you value and trust them. It also shows that you are proud of your community and customers that you are willing to let them post on your Instagram account. Furthermore, they might share a different perspective on your industry and help create diversity in your content through user-generated content.

What are community takeovers good for?

  • Building relationships with your community and customers
  • Creating user-generated content
  • Showcasing your awesome customers

Example: Sony Alpha invites photographers who use its cameras to take over its Instagram feed and share photographs taken with a Sony Alpha camera.

Bonus: Guest on another Instagram account

Instead of inviting guests to take over your company’s Instagram account, consider representing your company as a guest for someone else’s Instagram takeover — an influencer, a community member, or even another company.

This is an excellent way to reach a new audience that has been built by someone else, without too much effort. It is unlikely that you two have the exact same followers so such takeovers help to expose your company to new people. If you have a great brand, it’s likely that your community would love to have you on their Instagram accounts, making such partnerships easy to organize. Imagine how cool it’ll be to have your favorite brands appear on your Instagram account!

What is it good for?

  • Building brand awareness
  • Reaching new audience

Example: When Brian Fanzo took over Buffer’s Instagram Stories, Brian Peters, our social media manager, also took over Brian Fanzo’s Instagram Stories as Buffer (What a Brian-ception ?).

Buffer Instagram Takeover example

3. Choose a type of takeover

Thanks to the amazing features on Instagram, there is more than one type of content your guests can post on your company’s Instagram account. They could:

  1. Create Instagram posts
  2. Post in your Instagram Stories
  3. Go live with your Instagram account

Instagram posts

Having your guest post on your Instagram gallery is the original way of taking over an Instagram account. This helps to add variety to your Instagram gallery.

For example, WeightWatchers invites its member to take over its Instagram account for a day to share about themselves, their favorite food and recipes, and their experiences through Instagram posts.

Instagram post takeover example

Instagram Stories

Sometimes, you might want to keep your Instagram gallery to a certain theme or you have set guidelines for your Instagram posts. Instagram Stories can be a great way for a guest to take over your account without posting on your gallery.

For instance, ThinkGrowProsper posts inspirational quotes and tips on its gallery so a takeover to post on its gallery might not be suitable. Hence, Ruben Chavez, the owner of the account, invited Gary Vaynerchuk to take over ThinkGrowProsper’s Instagram Stories instead.

Instagram live videos

Instagram live videos are another great way of Instagram takeover without having the guest to post on your gallery. As this feature is relatively new, I haven’t come across any Instagram live video takeovers yet. But I believe it’s happening!

If you know of any awesome brands doing Instagram live takeovers, we’d love to hear from you.

Instagram live demo

Tip: There are several other smaller details that you would want to consider. They are:

  • How long do you want the takeover to be? (Instagram posts takeovers tend to be a week, Instagram Stories takeovers are usually a day, and Instagram live videos are probably an hour or less.)
  • What content are you looking for? (It can be helpful for the guest to know what you want her or him to share — tips, opinions, product review, etc.)
  • For Instagram posts, do you want to use a branded hashtag? (You can have one hashtag for all your takeovers or a unique one for each takeover. #instagramtakeover and #takeovertuesday are popular hashtags for Instagram takeovers.)

4. Promote the takeover

Even if takeovers are common on your company’s Instagram account, it might be great to announce it and give your followers a heads up. Here are a few common ways of promoting an Instagram takeover:

Announce it on Instagram

You can announce the takeover through an Instagram post or a story a day or week before the takeover.

Shopify gave its followers a heads up about an upcoming Instagram Stories takeover. Such posts are helpful for Instagram Stories takeovers as there might be more people who would scroll through their Instagram feed than view all Instagram Stories.

Promote it on other channels

You can also promote it on your other social media channels (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat) to draw more attention to the takeover. People who follow your company on Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat might not follow your company on Instagram. Cross-promotion keeps all your followers in the loop.

When Brian Fanzo was taking over our Instagram Stories, we share the fun news on Twitter, too.

Help guests to co-promote

After you announce and promote the takeover, you can also invite your guest to do the same. There is an incentive to promote his or her own Instagram takeover if he or she wants the takeover to be a success.

Amber Mac, who was taking over Shopify’s Instagram Stories, promoted her takeover on her own Instagram account, using the same graphic Shopify used.

5. Execute the takeover

So here’s where I let the secret out…

You don’t actually have to let your guest login and take over your company’s Instagram account!

There are generally two ways to go about an Instagram takeover.

  1. A full account takeover where your guest gets access to your company’s Instagram account.
  2. A semi-account takeover where your guest sends you the media files to post on her or his behalf.

Full account takeover

Depending on preference and objectives, a full account takeover might be more suitable than a semi-account takeover. For instance, if you wish to let your guest go live with your company’s Instagram account, you’ll need to grant the guest full access to your Instagram account.


  • It will feel more authentic as your guest would have actually taken over your account.
  • There’s less hassle as you do not need to post anything on the guest’s behalf.
  • Your guest can see and quickly reply to comments with your account, especially for Instagram Stories as the replies will be direct messages in your company’s account.
  • It’s the only way for your guest to go live with your Instagram account.


  • It is less safe to share your password online, and your account might be compromised.
  • You have less control over what your guests post, when they post it, and what they do with your company’s account. (If you trust the guest enough, this won’t be a worry.)

How to set up a full account takeover:

If you prefer a full account takeover, we’d recommend using a secure way to transfer your password such as One-Time Secret. It’ll be great to change your password after each takeover as an additional security measure, too.

To use One-Time Secret, type your password on the website and create a secret link. If you want to make it more secure, you can also set a passphrase.

One-Time Secret screenshot

Once your guest opens the link to retrieve the password, the link will disappear forever, keeping your password safe.

Semi-account takeover

If you are afraid of compromising your password or if you prefer to help your guest do the posting, a semi-account takeover will be more suitable. The guest has to simply send you the photos or videos she or he wants to post, and you can post them at the times you prefer.


  • It’s safer as you do not have to share your password online.
  • It makes things easier for your guest, which might make the partnership more enticing.
  • You will have control over when to post the photos or videos.


  • It might feel less authentic as you are posting on your guest’s behalf.
  • Your guest will not be able to reply with your account. (They can still reply with their own Instagram account.)
  • Your guest will not be able to see any replies to her or his Instagram Stories as the replies will be direct messages in your company’s Instagram account.
  • You wouldn’t be able to let your guest go live with your company’s Instagram account.

How to set up a semi-account takeover:

For a semi-account takeover, there is slightly more work on your end. There are two main steps for you to take.

Step 1: Getting the media files

Get the images or videos from the guest through your or your guest’s preferred way of transferring files. This could be through email, Dropbox, or Google Drive.

For Instagram posts, you’d want to get a caption from her or him, too. For Instagram Stories, your guest can create stories on her or her mobile phone and save them by using the “Save” button in the Instagram app.

Instagram Stories save button

Step 2: Uploading the media files

For Instagram posts, you can use Buffer for Instagram to automatically post for you or to send you a notification on your smartphone when it’s the time to post.

The advantage here is that you don’t have to manually transfer the files from your desktop to your mobile phone. When you schedule an Instagram reminder with the Buffer web application, we will automatically transfer the photo to your smartphone through the Buffer app.

For Instagram Stories, you’d need to transfer the files to your smartphone as there isn’t a way to post them through the desktop directly at the moment. (A neat workaround is to schedule Instagram reminders using Buffer again but instead of posting on your gallery, press “Cancel” and go to your Instagram Stories.)

When you want to post the stories, swipe up to access the photos and/or videos added to your mobile phone in the last 24 hours.

Instagram Stories camera roll

Tip: If you are using Buffer for Business, you could add your guest as a team member of your organization and let them add posts to your Buffer queue. This will save you and your guest the hassle of transferring files and coordinating the timing of the posts. Here’s a full post on how to do that.

6. Wrap up

Once you have completed the Instagram takeover (yay!), the only thing left to do is review the performance of the takeover.

One of the best ways to measure success is to compare the change in the metrics you identified in the first step. For example: How many followers did you gain during the takeover? How much engagement did you receive?

Kuno Creative, the inbound marketing agency mentioned at the start of the article, measured their follower growth throughout the several Instagram takeovers and found that they’ve gained 450 followers since they started running Instagram takeovers.

Kuno Creative Instagram Followers Growth

Apart from looking at the numbers, Kuno also analyzed what worked well for them. They found that content that capitalized on trending topics, videos, GIFs, boomerangs, and high-quality images performed well during the takeovers.

Finally, the last thing to do is to show your appreciation to your guest. At Buffer, we like to give our guests a small swag token whenever possible. At the same time, we would ask the guests if they have any feedback for us regarding the collaboration.

Over to You

Instagram had pushed out many great features and improvements in 2016. I believe it will continue to do so in 2017, making Instagram takeovers even more exciting! As a recap, here are the six steps to organizing a great Instagram takeover:

  1. Set goals and metrics to watch
  2. Decide on your guest
  3. Choose a type of takeover
  4. Promote the takeover
  5. Execute the takeover
  6. Wrap up

Have you done Instagram takeovers as either the host or guest before? How was it? Do you have any tips for a great Instagram takeover?

Thank you.

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