When Employees Take Over Instagram

By Kristin Sundin Brandt, CFMP

Organizations such as American Express, Birchbox, and Capital One have started turning over the keys to social channels such as Instagram to customers, employees, and influencers.

The goals of a takeover are varied, and can include discovering new stories or connecting the brand with a larger community. Letting employees in particular take over can be a powerful and effective way for organizations to personalize a brand and pull back the curtain for customers and prospects.

But how can a community bank allow employees to take over a social media channel while mitigating the risks?

Establish the logistics.

Unlike Facebook, Instagram does not give you the ability to add users to manage the account. That means each account gets one user ID and one password. For that reason, the trickiest part of sharing an Instagram account is likely to be password management. Simply put, will you change the password each time you pass the baton to a new user? (The answer, I believe, should be yes.)

To monitor both what is being posted and feedback to posts, your marketing or social media manager should remain logged into the account, and should receive notices of any comments, likes, or other activity.

Find your storytellers.

When planning an Instagram takeover, the key is to find the storytellers within your team. That does not necessarily mean those in marketing (although they should be considered), but rather the people within each department who can tell your institution’s story.

Whether they’re taking over an account for a day, a week, or just a weekend, employees should be given a list of do’s and don’ts. These may include regulatory reminders such as privacy rules, triggering terms, etc., as well as the goals, best practices, and examples of what the organization is looking to accomplish through the takeover.

Then take a deep breath, because the biggest challenge of this will be giving up control.

Let them tell their stories.

Danske Bank in Copenhagen, Denmark uses employee takeovers of its Instagram account, @danske_bank_careers, to allow customers—and, one would assume, prospective employees—to learn more about the Bank’s culture. Customer service representatives, business analysts, trainees, business bankers, and others all share snippets of their days both at, and away from, the bank.

Notice there doesn’t seem to be a formula for what is posted. The photos shared are as unique as the employees and their stories. And yes, they use a lot of hashtags and emoticons.

Another strategy for sharing your Instagram account is to turn it over for a takeover on the weekends. For example, this past February, Deschutes Brewery in Oregon invited employees to share photos each weekend of what inspires them during the transition from winter to spring. Through this strategy, the company can continue to use the channel during the week for product-based posts, while allowing employees to share inspirational stories during the weekend.




There is no question in my mind that willing financial institutions will be able to find stories and storytellers to take over their Instagram accounts. If you hand over the keys to your accounts, however, remember to measure your results, in both engagement and audience growth. And don’t forget to share the love—or more specifically, the likes and comments with the employees taking over your account.

Kristin Sundin Brandt, CFMP, is the president of Sundin Associates Inc., Natick, Mass., an agency specializing in financial services companies.  

Online training in digital, mobile and social media from ABA.