Upping your Insta-game, Part 1: Hosting a takeover


With Instagram’s big update last week, users worldwide celebrated #deathtothesquare. That alone may be reason to amp up or revisit your media staff’s Instagram presence. If you’re looking for ways to expand or improve, this three-part series may help. [Note to beginners: JEA Digital Media offers other suggestions here, if you’re just getting started.]

First, consider hosting a takeover or guest Instagrammer on your account. Having a student or group outside your staff posting on the account for a day or during one particular event offers a new perspective and gets your audience involved.

A few benefits: It’s different. Having someone take over your account exposes followers to a fresh storyteller. The guest reporter can show his/her take from a “behind the scenes” perspective. It’s also likely that you’ll attract new and different followers if you encourage the guest poster to help promote or repost from his/her personal account.


How to try it: Conducting a successful takeover takes a little planning ahead of time.

  1. Let your staff know. Your feed will be confusing if someone on your staff posts during the same time a guest is posting for the takeover. Set a finite time period (such as one day or one weekend).
  2. Select someone you can trust. You’re opening your account to someone who hasn’t been through the same training in journalism, ethics and editing. Make sure this person is mature and responsible and that you have no reservations about the guest poster’s judgment. If you’re worried about the guest posting something that would damage your credibility, don’t do it.
  3. Let your followers know.
    In the first post, the guest Instagrammer should include an introduction to make sure followers get what’s happening. As you can imagine, the first post is especially important in order to build interest.


4. Use a hashtag (such as “#instatakeover”) and be sure that same tag appears on all posts.








5. Consider promoting on your other social media.

Using Facebook to promote the takeover helps reach even more potential followers.
Using Facebook to promote the takeover helps reach more potential followers.

Again, you’ll be amazed at the traction you can get from having your guest help promote the takeover, too. It’s a win/win, as you can see here when media adviser Patrick Johnson participated in JEA’s first #instatakeover in July for the @journalismeducation account.

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6. Change the password immediately following the end of the takeover.


Keep in mind: A little coaching for your guest Instagrammer makes a big difference. At first, you may get a lot of posed photos. Don’t let it bother you too much. These shots still give an “inside look” from the perspective of the person or group posting.

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Relax a little. Your guest ‘grammer doesn’t know AP Style or photo composition techniques the way you do. Let it go. Your editors still have the responsibility to monitor the account and delete anything potentially damaging, but otherwise, just accept that you’re compromising a bit of “technical excellence” for the variety, fresh perspective and audience participation. The benefits (such as this fun video of a team’s pregame ritual) far outweigh the drawbacks.


This is the first of a three-part series. Check back next week for the next installment.

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