How to Coordinate an Instagram Takeover for Your Restaurant

Getting someone to do a double-take—let alone a double tap—when scrolling their Instagram feed is no easy feat. In order to stand out in a sea of social media content, and actually grab people’s attention, you might have to try something drastic.

Enter the Instagram takeover: a great way to spruce up your account without having to reinvent the wheel. (Or break your budget.) Aside from being a fun way for brands to collaborate, takeovers hold serious value when it comes to effective restaurant marketing strategies as well. 

So how do you use them to your advantage? How do they help your brand? And how do you organize one? We'll get to all that. But first, let's start with the very basic question...

What is an Instagram takeover?

It's less hostile than it sounds: Someone else’s Instagram account temporarily takes control of yours to share content with your audience. Thanks to Instagram’s new features, takeovers are no longer limited to single posts. They can include live video and Stories that can be saved to “Highlights” for future viewing (more on those options later). 

>>>RELATED: How To Create A Great Instagram Profile For Any Restaurant

Why should your restaurant host an Instagram takeover?

Two words: Cross. Promotion. They let brands and individuals share content across a wider, typically resulting in more engagement and more followers for both parties. Plus your followers get to see new, cool stuff. As a veteran social media guru and entrepreneur explains, it's a true "50/50 value exchange." You know it better as a win-win.

So! Have we convinced you enough to get started? Good. Here are five steps to pull one off yourself:

1. Set clear goals 

First things first. What do you want to accomplish? Some example goals include:

  • Increasing your audience

  • Increasing awareness and overall engagement for your brand

  • Promoting a new menu item or product

  • Creating buzz around a special event in real-time 

Your goal will determine your strategy. This includes who to pick for said takeover as well as how to measure success afterward.

2. Choose a takeover host

Ok! You know what you want. Now it’s time to figure out who can help you achieve it. The “guest star” should be someone who helps hit your objectives and aligns with your brand. When you bring in another “character” (so to speak), that person still needs to feel authentic and a complement to what you do. Consider some parameters.

  • Your target market: What type of audience does your potential takeover host have? Does it line up with your target market? If your audience consists largely of millennials, then your potential takeover host should ideally have a similar demographic. It won’t matter how large the audience is if an account’s followers are primarily 60+ and you’re looking to reach 30-somethings.

  • Types of posts: Take a close look at their content. Do you like the caption style? What about the photos? Do their stories measure up? Does the feed consist of mostly organic content or primarily sponsored posts that feel forced? The look and the voice should attract you and jive with your brand. If you’re not enthralled, don't expect your audience to be.

  • Audience engagement: How engaged is your takeover host’s audience? Engagement is key to widening your audience or boosting sales. While you may not be able to get a read on every metric, you can at least count a potential takeover partner’s comments per post to get a sense of whether they excite their audience. Remember: your audience interest is only is strong as theirs in a takeover.

  • Previous takeover experience: Even though no one is getting paid, this is still a job! So don’t be afraid to see if someone is qualified. Have any of these potential accounts done a takeover in the past? If so, what companies have they worked with and what were the results? Your takeover’s success relies on your due diligence, so make sure to dig into the facts that are literally at your fingertips.

Need more help? Check out these tips for finding the right influencer.

3. Determine your style and format 

Once you‘ve decided on the host, lay the groundwork the takeover. While they don't need a formal contract, all parties should have clear expectations.

Some key items include: 

  • Deadline/date of takeover: When you pick a date, decide also on a duration. Will this takeover be just during the span of an event? Or will it be for an entire day? A week? This all depends on your initial goals and will set the tone for the rest of the steps. 

  • Shooting guidelines: What type of takeover will this be? Will it include a live video? Instagram Stories? Feed posts? The more you can get out of this takeover the better, but feel out your comfort level on giving another person the keys to your account. A conservative play is to come up with posts beforehand and post them yourself. A truer takeover, by contrast, will feel riskier, because the guest host is the one answering questions, fielding comments, and having free rein on live video. The less you meddle, the more it will feel new and exciting to your audience. And that’s the whole point!

  • Number of posts: How many posts do you expect? It'll depend on your format, but make sure to factor in pre- and post-promotion posts as well as the actual takeover itself. 

Pro tip: clearly lay out the must-haves along with any off-limits topics, and make sure they understand the overall tone and style of your brand. This is still your account, after all, so having clear parameters helps put everyone at ease. 

>>>RELATED: 6 Social Media Tools Every Restaurant Operator Should Use

4. Create a specific hashtag 

While you don’t have to do this, using a branded hashtag for the takeover is fun and useful. As a promotional tool, it can help drive awareness to the takeover itself. Because before this thing gets rolling, you should absolutely be generating buzz for it. This can be especially beneficial if this is part of a large-scale takeover with a big brand, as countless others will likely post about it as well. 

A specific takeover hashtag later will allow you to find all the content related to your takeover (and subsequently engage with all of it).

5. Promote, promote, promote

You've locked in a takeover host, a topic, and a date. Now get both audiences hyped! You and your guest star should post about the takeover to alert your respective followings of the details: the what, the when, and the why they should be excited about it. And reach out beyond Insta! Alert all your social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.) to make a true splash.

Make sure you and the takeover host tag each other in each other’s respective posts so you can share and engage with each one—as well as remind people that you are, in fact, doing this thing.

Last: Don't forget to have some actual fun. It'll leave your audience wanting more.

[Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels]