How to run a successful Instagram “takeover” campaign

by April Corbin, PeopleForBikes equity writer

A picture is worth a thousand words, and for bike share systems it’s also good for customer conversion. Kiera Smalls, the community engagement manager for Indego bike share in Philadelphia, has found that the photo-sharing social media site Instagram can be highly effective at building your brand and creating an online buzz that translates to offline engagement.

“Our Instagram account has been a big hit for us. It’s storytelling through images,” said Smalls. “It’s where I choose to focus most of my time and efforts, because a photo can tell you so much. It allows us to showcase our riders, beautiful neighborhoods, and cultural events and attractions.”

Smalls believes that people on Instagram are drawn to fun, emotional content. Successful engaging posts can be as simple as “Who’s up for a ride on the Schuylkill River Trail? Tag a friend you’d love to see this with.” You can also find success reposting photos of users who tag your account and/or engage with your hashtags. With a little preparation and partnership, an even larger campaign with users can be executed.

Smalls’ favorite strategy is an “Instagram Takeover.” It’s when brands hand over the reins of its Instagram account to a specially selected employee, customer or influencer in order for them to increase followers or showcase a certain topic or theme. In December, a popular photographer who uses Indego used his Instagram Takeover to arrange and document a holiday lights ride.

“(Our Indego followers) were there in spirit and could follow along,” says Smalls.

(Click here to download Kiera Smalls’ tips on how to run a successful Instagram takeover”)

‘Tis the season. ?: @anhphl

A photo posted by Indego ? (@rideindego) on

In January, the Instagram Takeover theme was “New Year, New Adventure.” This two-day takeover documented the comings and goings of one passholder—from major Philadelphia attractions to local restaurants and neighborhood landmarks.

“It’s connecting the brand to (followers’) everyday lives,” says Smalls. On a photo of a mural in her neighborhood, one rider commented, “This is “our” [bike share station]. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t think I ever saw the artwork before.”

In February, a popular local photographer did an Instagram Takeover focused on love and loving your neighborhood. Her vibrant, energetic series of photos captured the energy and spirit of often-overlooked parts of town, like North Philadelphia. A local news site selected one of the photos as their ‘Instagram of the Day’, driving even more engagement to the Indego Instagram account.

Each Instagram Takeover has brought Indego hundreds of new followers, newsletter subscribers, and riders. After each takeover concludes, Smalls tracks the success of the Takeover and checks to see if she’s on target to reach her social media metrics.

“It’s about leveraging influencers and your customer base,” says Smalls. “They are the cheerleaders for you and will help you get more people riding.”


The Better Bike Share Partnership is a JPB Foundation-funded collaboration between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and thePeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter. Story tip? Write