How and why musicians should take over a fan's Instagram Stories for a day

Instagram's Stories feature pushed the platform to a full fledged channel. It rivals terrestrial TV and more traditional forms of media in terms of attention and certainly surpasses them in terms of interactivity and engagement. Stories are always featured at the top and newer content is pushed to the front -- at least for now. These choices and constraints create opportunity.

One of the innovations of Stories has been account takeovers. Takeovers facilitate cross pollination and engagement. A designer might takeover a new furniture brand to showcase looks or ideas. The net result is a 50-50 value exchange: the brand gets access to the designer's devotees and the designer gets to grow her following and secure future brand engagements and value exchanges.

Before Instagram, at least before Stories existed, the Foo Fighters did something similar. They got a video crew together and knocked on a fan's front door. They offered to play a live show right then and there in his garage. They set up in a crammed space, the fan called a bunch of his friends, and Dave Grohl and his band mates did their thing. It was a viral sensation on YouTube and was a perfectly organic, lo-fi, and authentic way to promote their new studio album.

The combination of what the Foo Fighters did and Instagram Stories is prime territory for an amazing authentic experience. Think about how amazing it would be for a fan if they were approached by an artist to take over their Instagram account for a day -- to post unique, time sensitive content, perform songs, rehearse, communicate, and give away tickets or merchandise? If executed properly it could be a top-of-mind attention controller on drip.

In that fan, the artist yields immeasurable lifetime value and a word of mouth ambassador -- the best kind. If the fan happens to be a micro-influencer, even better: the artist potentially expands their audience. The fan benefits from direct engagement, tastemaker status and, most importantly to any core fan, the feeling of having established an authentic relationship.

So what are the logistics to get this done?

1) Look through your Instagram followers and pick one. 

If you are fortunate enough to have thousands of followers, start with the ones that have verified accounts. Odds are they are influencers on some level and can create greater long term leverage. Let's be real: altruism is a grand a noble thing. But at the end of the day, a value exchange is key.

2) Follow the fan, if you don't already, and DM them.

Take advantage of the fact that Instagram allows DM-level communication. It's an underutilized tool and its future availability isn't guaranteed.

Keep it cool. Keep it simple. If you need something to start with try: Hey, thanks for your support! We'd like express our gratitude but taking over your Instagram Stories for a day. If you'd be into this or be willing to hear us out, let's talk soon! 

3) Once you get a response and a green light, get your content team together and develop a plan.

You should have a library of digital assets ready to deploy: photos, video and audio clips. Additionally, if you're promoting a show or album, have tickets and merchandise ready to ship.

4) Push the content directly to the fan so they can post it.

Ideally, produce content directly with the fan. Let them be part of the experience and process. Include them (and a few of their favorite friends) as much as possible. This is actually the best, most exciting part of this concept. Sure the Foo Fighters probably sold a ton of records because of the views of their suburban garage concert on YouTube, but as a viewer and fan I didn't remember that. Or feel that. Or think that. It didn't come off as advertising. Instead, it came off as genuine human connection through music.

And WTF is better than that?

Rarely do platforms and technology come together to provide low barriers to authentic engagement with your audience. Utilize Stories, make your fans part of the process, and leverage the goodwill that follows.

V. J. Singh