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What I Learned from My First Instagram Takeover

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At the time of my takeover of the Visit Faroe Islands account, my own account was around 5k followers. To briefly run and manage a page that has surpassed 100k was a great learning experience. Here are a few things I learned along the way that might help others.

1. At that level, you will naturally have a larger base of people exposed to your work, meaning more opportunity for polarized reactions. You will have those that are head over heels they have found you; you will have those that leave hate-filled comments. You have to know your worth, and not be distressed if someone leaves a rude comment.

2. Building on that, PR is important. Everything reflects on your self-brand: each comment, like, follow, etc. As you go up, it matters more, meaning you need to be more conscientious of the things you do on the account. Your responses will be monitored by more people, and the words you choose do matter.

3. It is hard to determine when your demographic is most active online when dealing with an international audience. When most of your followers are from one place, this is much easier to do. Although you could argue that at 100k+ timing is irrelevant, it’s still important if you want to continue growing.

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4. For takeovers, you need to tread a fine line between what people that follow the account expect to see, and interjecting your own uniqueness. Too unique, and you will throw people off. Too similar, and you won’t be noticed. The content of mine that performed best was that which showed a familiar location in a slightly different way. I had some people complain about a lack of originality as well, but when I posted something more out of the box it would have less than 1/10th of the engagement.

5. Use the previous accounts that have done takeovers to gauge what works and what doesn’t. See whose work has had good reception, analyze why, and think of how to apply this knowledge to yours.

6. Plan meticulously. Maybe this one is just me, but I like forming a narrative and a cohesive string of content that all ties together. I spent hours planning the order which I would put the shots in, composing engaging captions, debating how to best interject my handle, and ensuring I managed the page with the same efficiency which I try to do with my own.

7. Create your own hashtag. This is a way to see the posts easily after the takeover, and reflects well on you for your creative thinking and strategic social media management. For example, all of my posts from my takeover can be found under the tag #alexroamsfaroes

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8. Be mature in your approach, and reflect a level of professionalism that you would expect to see in anyone that you or any company may hire. Everyone I’ve ever looked up to in photography has been incredibly humble considering what they have accomplished. If you act overly confident in your posts, replies, email correspondence, etc; you come across as immature and unprofessional, lessening the chance that this will lead to future work with the brand in question, or anyone else seeing the content.

9. Pick the best of the best. I had lots of content from my trip to the Faroe Islands so I was able to do this and still post 3 times a day, but it is better to post once a day with high quality imagery than to spam the followers with mediocre imagery. There were many images I deliberated about keeping in, that had good stories but less enticing imagery and as such they did not make the cut. You should only be showing the pictures that are the best reflection of your work, as they will engage people and show what you are about.

10. Have fun! All of this aside, don’t stress things and remember that this is (if you have a takeover coming up) an excellent opportunity that you have been given (by someone who believes in your work) to grow and learn.

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I hope that some of these tips are useful to those doing a takeover soon, or just for social networking in general. If you would like to see my work, this is my Instagram; if you would like to see the Visit Faroe Islands page I took over, it can be found here.


About the Author: Alex Stelmacovich is a Toronto-based photographer and creative director. To see more of his work, head over to his website or give him a follow on Instagram. These tips were also published here.

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