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  • Writer's pictureJon McBride

Lessons learned from running 60+ takeovers in a campus-wide takeover day

Updated: Jan 24, 2022

It took us almost a year to figure out how to do it and multiple weeks to plan and organize it, but now that's it's over, I'm happy to share what we learned in this process re: things we did right and a lot of things we could've done better in our campus-wide takeover day.

(If you're new to the idea of a takeover series overall, I've got another piece on how to implement and excel with an Instagram takeover series that might be helpful to read first)

Introducing the idea

This was something that took us a while to figure out: How to introduce the idea in way that was succinct, but with enough detail to clearly explain how it would work, earned buy in and showed the value this could add.

Our first spot to do this was our private BYU Social Media Committee Facebook Group. This is a place for anyone on our campus who helps run a BYU-related social media presence.

This is what we shared there:

We have what we think is a really exciting, collaborative opportunity for us all that we want to get out there for everyone to have on their radar and content calendars.
Introducing … our first ever #MyViewFromBYU Campus-Wide Takeover Day.
The vision
Each BYU-related Instagram account runs a short, 5-10 segment student takeover from their account on the first Wednesday of the fall semester (Sept. 2) and (this is the really important part) tags the account above them in their org chart in the first segment of the story. That tag allows the account above it to share to their story. So from a user perspective, starting at our BYU institutional account, it creates a bit of a #MyViewFromBYU choose your own adventure for them.
The goal
To show our BYU community the breadth and depth of experiences (and accounts/organizations) at BYU. We’re thinking at the very least this will give participating accounts a nice little bump in new followers, but ultimately allowing our community to get more digitally proximate to programs, organizations and people that they may not have been able to before. This feels especially important this year, facilitating digital proximity when physical proximity is more difficult now. This also serves as a unique sort of BYU orientation via Instagram stories.
An example
The Industrial Design program has a student do a takeover explaining a bit about them, their experience in the program, what the program entails and then does a call for DMs for people who might have questions. The student tags the College of Engineering account in the first story segment.
The College of Engineering has a student do a takeover explaining a bit about them, their experience in the college, what the college entails and then does a call for DMs for people who might have questions. The student tags the BYU institutional account in the first story segment. The Engineering account also shares the first segment of the Industrial Design story, as well as the others from accounts that would fall underneath them (Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, etc.).
The BYU institutional account shares the first segment of the Engineering story, along with the other college’s stories and a bunch of other top-level accounts that would lead to other accounts.
So from the user perspective, if they start at the institutional account, they can tap through all of the stories we’re pointing to, see what’s interesting to them and keep drilling down as far as they’d like to go.
The logistics
Obviously this is going to take some major coordination to pull off. But we feel like it's worth it. Myself and my students are committed to helping with providing takeover resources, guidelines and training (which will answer a lot of questions). We’ve done 200+ of these takeovers over the past few years, have learned a lot and have seen the impact these have made.
We realize there will be a lot of questions. Feel free to ask those here or send me an email, and we’ll work together to make this happen.
Please let us know ASAP if you’re interested, and we can get in touch to work out details.

From that initial reach out, we heard back from about 15 account managers that they wanted to be involved. I also sent this same text in an email to all of our current social media committee members, in case they didn't see the Facebook group notification. That got us five more commitments to be involved.

While doing this with 20 accounts would be fine, if was a pretty low percentage of overall participation considering in the process of planning this we discovered that we had 152 total BYU-related Instagram accounts.

So our next step was just to reach out directly in the DMs directly to the accounts we hadn't heard back from. This was obviously helpful for a lot of the student-run accounts, but also got the attention of more institutional accounts.

Since we didn't have as many available characters in a DM, we cut down the pitch more.

Hello! We want to propose an opportunity to get involved in the first #MyViewFromBYU campus-wide takeover. We’re hoping that each BYU-related instagram account will run a short student takeover on September 2nd to show off the variety of opportunities, experiences and people here at BYU. It would involve some coordination, but with promotion from our account and using a chain of tags for people to navigate from us to you, it would result in increased engagement and a possible bump in followers for your account.
If you’re interested, please let us know as soon as possible so we can start some planning and training to support you in this new opportunity. In order for this to work well, there will need to be some strategic coordination.

This at least served as a teaser of sorts and started the conversation. We would eventually get confirmation from 40 more accounts through this method.

Keeping track of communication

This was the trickiest part of the process for us, especially considering we had responses coming via Facebook, email and Instagram DMs.

We set up a spreadsheet to keep track of each account, and where it was in terms of being reached out to, responding, committing and being trained. This proved to be difficult considering there were three of us reaching out and getting responses three different ways. Especially with the Instagram DMs, one person would see the DM and then it would get buried under other every-day DMs (including a lot of urgent COVID stuff that needed to be responded to quickly). This resulted in some DMs being marked as unread, the spreadsheet not getting updated and gaps in communication that turned out to be problematic in the end.

If we could do anything differently, it would be keeping track of these responses better. Prioritize the spreadsheet more, add some more columns to keep track of exact progress with each account and make sure the gaps in communication don't happen.

We had a few accounts express interest in participating early on, but since the spreadsheet didn't get updated, and other emails and DMs were flying in that were getting all the attention, the others that we missed just got buried.


We ended up doing two different trainings for the takeover participants over Zoom. Account managers were welcome to join as well. These proved to be very, very important. We went through the training that we do for regular takeover with best practices like using captions, making things visually-interesting, using headphones to help with sound quality, etc. And also hard rules like not changing passwords, not using the takeover to promote a side hustle or not violating the university's student code of conduct.

But the real value was in showing how the tagging mechanism would work. My student employees and I created a mock version of takeovers where we tagged each others' accounts and showed what those looked like, how they'd work and why we were doing it this way. We were surprised how many clarifying questions there were on the Zoom calls. But we were glad to be able to answer them and make sure everyone was on the same page.

We had about 50 people on the trainings. We were happy with that. We recorded the 2nd training and made sure to send it to those who couldn't attend.

The launch

An important part of the training that we tried to emphasize was that we wanted everyone to post right at 8:00 a.m. on the day we went live. It was important so that those who needed to share tags could all do so readily and not cause a bunch of delays in people waiting to be tagged, which would slow down the line all the way to our account.

It was a nice idea in theory, but we did have a few who failed to grasp this part of the training and posted late. We could've stressed it more. We also had two accounts who tagged us in their first segment, but for some reason the tag didn't register in our DMs to be able to have access to share it.

So we had to improvise a bit. We were planning on organizing the takeovers we shared with a few categorized text segments in our story. With the tagging issues, though, we ended up making an extra text segment on the fly to explain the sort of catch all category at the end.

Overall, though, the tags made things extremely easy for us to share.

The organization

Part of what made sharing the tags easy, was having the tagging outline all pre-planned and ready to go.

With so many accounts participating, we wanted to be able to help our audience navigate through the accounts as easily and logically as possible. Part of that was organizing the accounts into helpful categories and also creating some text segments in our story to help provide guidance and instruction.

One other really important text element that we didn't put in our own story, but rather sent out to each participating account to use in their story was this one that pointed everyone back to our account and started from the beginning of the tagging chain. Obviously the white space is blank because in order for the tagging functionality to work, it needs to be added in natively by the account doing the tagging.

And here's an example of how the whole thing looked navigating through the story, with an example of navigating into multiple takeovers.

The results

This was not our most-viewed takeover or story content ever, but it was definitely above average, which was great.

The main objective here was to show the depth and breadth of student experiences at BYU. So really to measure success here, it was more about the metrics the accounts we shared saw than it was about the metrics our own account saw. We wanted our audience to spend more time on those accounts than on our account. After reaching out to those accounts, we were really pleased with what we saw.

Accounts from our law school, museum of art, rugby team and alumni association all reported significant upticks in followers gained and DMs received. Even accounts that we're second-level in the tagging structure like BYU Magazine and BYU Speeches reported the same upticks. That was really encouraging.

Overall we'd say this project was a major success and even though it took a lot of time and effort, it was well worth it.

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