How To Run A Snapchat Takeover With Custom Stories

Snapchat Takeovers are the bread and butter of higher education’s use of Snapchat, and with good reason. With its short videos, quick photos and huge range of filters, stickers and fun tools — it’s the perfect medium to give a snapshot of unfiltered campus life, on a channel that prospective and current students love to use.

There is a problem with running takeovers though. Unless you have enough money to use a tool like Mish Guru or Snaplytics, it involves a lot of trust. To get a student set up to post to your university’s Snapchat account, you either have to share the password with them, or log their device in and let them go.

This removes any moderation ability of the content being posted, and if you don’t have the best password policies, the potential for other channels to be compromised.

Now I’m sure the students chosen to run takeovers are pillars of campus community and would never dream of doing nefarious things with an institution’s Snapchat account or password. But that doesn’t stop your management getting a bit twitchy when you tell them how a takeover actually happens (“You mean we can’t have completely control of the messaging in this authentic portrayal of campus life?”)

Snapchat Takeovers 2.0

The above method seemed like the only way to easily run a takeover while avoiding the “white border of in-authenticity”. That was until early in 2017 when Snapchat announced a brand new feature, custom stories. A feature they announced with this super Millennial video:

“But how can skipping around the Grand Canyon with your BFFs make Snapchat takeovers easier?” you may be thinking. Let me explain

How to run a Snapchat takeover with custom stories

With this new feature it’s super simple to run takeovers without sharing any log in details and with the ability to moderate content — all without using third party tools. Here’s how:

  1. Add the student(s) that will be running the takeover as friends on your account. They’ll also need to add the your account as a friend
  2. Create a custom story with the geofence turned off
  3. Include the student(s) in the “Who can add?” section
  4. Get the student(s) running the takeover to share all their snaps to this custom story
  5. Save each snap they add to your camera roll
  6. Upload the snaps from your camera roll to your main story

The results

At Newcastle University we’ve been using this method for a few months now and it’s helped us run takeovers by students around the world, including researchers in the North Pole, archaeologists in Spain and students celebrating their graduation on campus.

Which looks great, but was it really that simple? Here’s what we’ve learnt about this new process for takeovers:

The pros

It goes without saying, the huge benefit of doing takeovers this way is the security of your account and brand. You can provide access to your university’s account to students without sharing passwords and while having the ability to decide which bits of their story make it to your feed.

On top of this, it helps you get around Snapchat’s “one account, one device” log in. This means you can potentially have students around your campus/word all adding to a takeover on the same day, without having to log in and out all the time.

Some accounts run takeovers by screengrabbing the snaps they are sent and then uploading them to their story. With this new method you can share both photos and videos. Considering video is the god of social content at the moment, that’s a great plus.

The cons

That’s not to say it’s all a dream when it comes to running Snapchat takeovers with this method. There are some issues to be aware of.

Sometimes Snapchat will randomly add the “white border of non live upload shame” to snaps you add to your main story. This can happen at the time of upload, or even more confusingly, a few hours after you’ve uploaded.

On top of this, Snapchat will order snaps you add to your main story by the timestamp on the content, rather than when you add them. That’s why in the example above the students’ intro video comes a few snaps in. Although it was added to the main story first, they had recorded it after a few of the other snaps, so when we shared more snaps to the story Snapchat shuffled things around so it was chronological.

This method also only works with people your account is friends with. That means usernames need sharing and adding first before receiving and reposting content. Not ideal for sharing snaps from an open event where you may have 1000s of accounts you want to feature content from.


If you can’t afford Mish Guru, then this method of running Snapchat takeovers definitely helps you up your Snapchat game at zero cost.

Although the cons are annoying, they’re far outweighed by the pros which mean you can easily showcase what your students are doing while making it look like they have full access to your institution’s account.

About Matt Horne

I'm a broadcaster and social media guy who makes digital content and spends too much time on the internet so you don't have to.

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