The VPM Blog

The Only Instagram Takeover Guide You'll Ever Need

Posted by Melissa Cook on Sep 5, 2018 9:00:00 AM

We all know the struggle of keeping up with the demand for fresh content, especially in the higher education space. Before you panic and put together another “5 Study Tips” guide or graphic, consider incorporating students. Think about it. Your students are a living, breathing, walking, and social media posting ad for how great your university is. Use them. How? Schedule an Instagram Takeover.


Before you get started….

Before you hand over your university logins to a random student on campus, do a little research. Find out what students are involved and are leaders on your campus. Get to know your student body and choose students that represent them and your university well.

Let’s Talk Content

Now that you have your student(s) chosen, let’s talk content. But, before we jump into the student’s content, there are a few things you will need first. You want people to tune in and be watching your feed, right? So, let people know what they should tune in for. Have the student send in their information, headshot, and itinerary a few days before the takeover. This will allow you to create imagery around the takeover to promote it beforehand. This also allows you to see what the student has planned for content and filter what isn’t share-worthy.

For student content, let’s be honest, the purpose of this takeover isn’t to showcase what the inside of a classroom looks like or for your audience to see a boomerang of a history lecture, but to showcase the student, their involvement, and the university. If they’re a student leader, have them post while at a meeting and tease what the next big SGA event is. If they’re an entrepreneur, have them discuss their business, how it started, and how your university has helped them achieve starting a business in school. Keep it engaging and keep it fun! But remember, context is king. You can have the greatest takeover known to man, but if it is happening during an event-packed weekend, tragedy, etc., you may be lost in the crowd or come off as tone-deaf. Be careful of timing.

Guidelines and Permissions

Now that you have the content sorted out, let’s talk logistics. It may seem simpler and more natural to have the student post directly to your feed, but that comes with some serious risk. In our experience, the best way to get the content posted is to have an individual assigned to the takeover stay in contact with the student and to have the student send the content to the POC (Point of Contact). That way, the message can be filtered, approved, and still be posted natively and feel natural. The same with Instagram stories! There is an option to select a previously taken photo or video, making it an easy task to upload content sent in from the student. Another perk? This keeps you from constantly changing your password (and potentially forgetting it…).


A few other simple guidelines we stand behind: No foul language (depending on your brand or voice, but generally a good rule to live by), no raunchy behavior (we know this is college, but keep it clean), and nothing derogatory towards another individual or group. Some of these may seem like common knowledge, but we recommend putting together a takeover guidelines handout to give to students to keep it consistent. If you think it may still be a problem, don’t stress! That’s why you didn’t hand out the password and have the ability to filter the content. You may see some weird posts, but the world will never know.


For takeovers, you want it to seem like you are following this individual throughout their day, so you want content to be posted fairly regularly. 3-4 Instagram story posts and 1-2 feed posts are recommended, so that your audience feels involved and can follow along.

Why It Works

Before getting into why it works, I suppose we should ask the obvious questions: Does it work? (Hint: YES!) Takeovers work because it is organic, natural, and often appeals to the peer-to-peer interaction people crave from brands. This is why influencer marketing is all the rage. You’re more likely to trust a friend or peer, right? So why wouldn’t a prospective student be more likely to listen and respond to a student than a faculty member or ad?

To measure how well it works for you, determine what metric you want to track. Is it a rise in followers? Likes or comments? Story views? Choose what is best for you, set a goal, and track if your takeover is successful in your eyes.

Ready to get started? You now have all you need to grab a student (or maybe a dean…) for an Instagram Takeover! Just remember, have fun, keep the content fresh and engaging, and remember to track your results to better tweak your methods over time.

Think you’re ready to dive in headfirst? Schedule a takeover with your dean. Have them set the example for the students. We know they are busy all day, so why not capture some of the hustle to get the students behind them? After all, a digital dean is the best kind of dean. Don’t believe us? Check out this case study on why this generation, and the next, are looking for a university with an engaged and digital dean.

digital deans white paper

Topics: higher education, higher ed social media

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