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Main Spotlight: Local Instagram Takeovers Share Best Practices and Increase Connectivity Nationwide

October 12, 2021 | Main Spotlight: Local Instagram Takeovers Share Best Practices and Increase Connectivity Nationwide | By: Abby Armato
Emporia Main Street, one of six organizations who hosted a Main Street America Instagram Takeover this summer. Photo courtesy of Emporia Main Street.

An Instagram Stories Takeover is an easy and exciting way to showcase an organization’s impact to a new and engaged audience. Earlier this summer, Main Street America hosted our first-ever Instagram Stories Takeover, giving six Main Street organizations from around the Network direct access to our Instagram account. This opportunity amplified the impact and successes of these selected six local programs to our 10K followers comprised of Main Street programs, economic development organizations, small business owners, public artists, civic leaders, and everyone in between. Our hope was that these six communities would use this opportunity to showcase their Main Street’s story, celebrate their proudest accomplishments, and share replicable initiatives and best practices that they had implemented in their commercial district to inspire others.

Today, we connected with these communities to hear more about their experience hosting an MSA Instagram Stories Takeover. Read on to explore their unique approaches to showcasing their communities and their suggestions for hosting—and being the host of—an Instagram Takeover.

Photo courtesy of Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.

Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (Harrisonburg, VA)

Kate Harwood, Marketing Assistant

Hi y’all! My name is Kate Harwood, and I am the Marketing Assistant for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance (HDR), and I hosted the first MSA Takeover on July 13, 2021. I could not contain my excitement the week leading up to the Takeover! I was eager to show the MSA community the beauty, creativity, and the amazing people of Harrisonburg, VA. My supervisor shared a document with all the local businesses that I could feature throughout my Takeover. The community was so excited for the takeover: I booked 30-minute interview/shootings with business owners during the day, and was supported and encouraged throughout. My day was booked from 8am to 10pm! I couldn’t have done it without Emily Winter, HDR’s Marketing Director.

For future takeovers:

  • I would schedule in flexibility as you visit. I had amazing conversations with some of the business owners in Harrisonburg, but felt like I had to cut them short to keep the Takeover moving.
  • Make sure you schedule in time for breaks and the time to make your posts visually engaging!
  • Instagram stories can only feature 100 stories in a highlight, and I posted over 230 stories during my Takeover. All of the stories couldn’t be featured in the Instagram highlight.
  • Always tag your organization in your Takeover! I always tagged @downtownharrisonburg in all my story posts, and my supervisor was able to share them on the HDR Instagram. She also could keep all of the footage to make a YouTube playlist later!
Despite the few challenges with overbooking and over-posting, the Takeover was a success! I am so thankful to MSA for featuring HDR on their Instagram. I am proud of featuring the amazing community of Harrisonburg. At the end of the day, I found myself tearing up about how grateful I was to work for HDR and feature The Friendly City on a national nonprofit’s social media page.


Photo courtesy of Historic Marion Revitalization Association.

Historic Marion Revitalization Association (Marion, SC)

Liz Herlong, Board Member

Taylor and I thoroughly enjoyed our Main Street Takeover experience! Main Street America made the process easy, as Abby was very accommodating. Getting the chance to talk to many of our Main Street business owners was a treat, since often, because of our busy schedules, we neglect to do just that. Furthermore, the entire experience made us realize how very fortunate we are to live and work in such a beautiful area with great historical bones and amazing people!

For future Main Street Takeover participants, my advice to you would be to have two completely charged phones, comfortable walking shoes, and a full day set aside for what will prove to be an enlightening, unforgettable event!


Photo courtesy of Downtown SMTX.

Downtown SMTX (San Marcos, TX)
Freddy Medina, Administrative Assistant

It was an honor to participate in the first-ever Main Street America Takeover campaign! We’d like to thank the National Main Street Center for the amazing opportunity and all the Downtowners who tuned in. Our #MSATakeover content made over 1,200 impressions on the Main Street America Instagram and received an overwhelming amount of positive engagement. The Takeover was the perfect opportunity for the San Marcos Main Street Program to showcase our beautiful city and feature accomplishments such as our vacant storefront initiatives, beautification projects, and placemaking elements. We’re proud to be a part of such an incredible network that creates everlasting impacts on our communities. Our hope is to have inspired other Main Street folk to implement some of our projects in their downtowns.

To future #MSATakeover hosts, we offer this advice:
  • Take time to plan your Takeover ahead of time. We used a lot of video, so it helped us to create a story board and scripts for our content.
  • Use Canva to create vibrant and engaging graphics. Keep in mind the dimensions for Instagram Stories are 1080x1920 pixels.
  • Create more accessible content by using Instagram’s closed-captioning tool.
  • Produce your content ahead of time and create a schedule for the day of your Takeover.
  • Lastly, have fun showcasing your hard work and beautiful community on a NATIONAL platform!
If you have any questions about our takeover, do not hesitate to contact our marketing guru, Freddy Medina, at or (512) 393-8430.


Photo courtesy of Heart of Biddeford (HOB).

Heart of Biddeford (Biddeford, ME)

Sam Perry, AmeriCorps Main Street Fellow

Thinking and talking about Biddeford’s future is fun, no doubt, but it is not every day we are given the opportunity to show off our Main Street. On Tuesday, August 10th, that is exactly what we did. After weeks of coordinating interviews, editing footage, and even paddleboarding out to sea, we were ready to take Main Street America on a tour of Biddeford’s very own Main Street.

Of course, a tour cannot be a one person show, so we connected with neighbors old and new and invited them to tell us their stories and about their roles in our community. After all, what better way is there to support your neighboring businesses after a year of distancing than to ask them, “Hey, we see all the wonderful work you do and how special you are to our community, can we feature you on a national platform?” And so we did! I found myself, an introvert who came into my now former role as a Main Street Fellow, perusing downtown Biddeford like a travel show host. Folks had so many wonderful things to tell us that it was challenging to edit the interviews down to the right length.

When I came into this role, I had no experience managing social media accounts or building community online. To that end, hosting the Takeover was one of my favorite experiences of my AmeriCorps year and an unforgettable day. It is my hope the MSA #TakeoverTuesdays inspire others to go out and discover, or rediscover, the wonder along their Main Streets


Photo courtesy of Main Street Wadsworth.

Main Street Wadsworth (Wadsworth, OH)
Adrianne Patrick, Executive Director

Main Street Wadsworth in Wadsworth, Ohio, had a blast with their opportunity to host their Main Street America IG Takeover in August 2021! Located in Northeast Ohio near Cleveland, Main Street Wadsworth’s mission is to “create an unmatched downtown experience” and was proud to use the IG Takeover to highlight its revitalization progress. The Takeover featured an opening welcome video from Executive Director Adrianne Patrick, a mention of its “Best Hometown Award” from Ohio Magazine, small business interviews and features, videos highlighting its unique First Friday events, and real data about its progress (20+ new businesses, 100+ new jobs, $500,000 in grants, $2 million in private-public partnerships, etc.). The only unexpected challenge of the experience was discovering that videos were capped at 15 seconds, which created some short “blips” during longer videos. The Wadsworth and IG communities loved this change to our online presence (which is mostly present on Facebook).

Wadsworth’s advice to future IG Takeover hosts is to ask downtown businesses to share what makes them unique to give other businesses ideas and to research different IG hacks that improve the experience. One example of this is the addition of cool auto-subtitles during videos, a feature we learned from Main Street America’s Abby Armato—thanks girl!

Editor’s note: The auto-subtitles Main Street Wadsworth used was a feature that San Marcos Main Street introduced us to—we love that we all had the opportunity to grow and learn from each other during this initiative!


Thank you to these five communities for sharing their experiences with us! Be sure to check out their work on our Instagram channel in our Instagram Story Highlights, and stay tuned for future opportunities to take over our national social media channels!