This blog was featured on 05/03/2018
Instagram for Authors
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
May 2018
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
May 2018

As an author, your life is all about words, so delving into an image-based platform like Instagram can be daunting. As one of the top social media sites, if your goal is to gain new readers and reach a wider audience Instagram can be crucial to your growth. If you’ve wanted to get started but have been wary we’ve got the breakdown on what you need to know to get started and make the platform work for you.

At last count there are over 800 million active monthly users and 500 million daily users. There have been over 40 billion photos shared since the launch of Instagram and with over 25 million businesses leveraging the power of this platform, there is no time better than now for you to join in.

Those are pretty powerful statistics, if you’re not on the platform there is no better time than now to dive in.

Getting Started

The marketing opportunities Instagram affords allows users to generate compelling content, position their brand, connect with a broad audience, network with colleagues as well as the opportunity to monetize your writing. When you are initially setting up your profile there are some key elements to keep in mind.

  • Your bio is everything! Make sure that the information that you include is something that will resonate with your targeted readers. Most people think that they should add cutesy information with the hopes of appealing to the masses. Reaching a large portion of the community is the goal, but you want to make sure that those that are seeking you out are folks that are going to stick around.

  • Make sure that you include a link to your personal website or blog within your profile. You can use a site like bitly to shorten it up if you’re low on space.

The Art (and Science) of the Perfect Post

  • Much like with other social media platforms, consistency is king. There are many schools of thought as to how many times you should post per day and that information can be very confusing. The baseline for any successful account is one post per day. The more time that you are away from the platform the easier it is to be forgotten. With Instagram, there’s also such a thing as too much. On Twitter you can post all day without appearing needy or greedy, but with Instagram, deliver consistently, but don’t bombard your followers.

  • Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags! This is another controversial subject, as far as the idea of how many is too many. The most important thing that you can do when it comes to hashtags is research. These short words or phrases are an extra way that people can find you, people that aren’t already following you. Make sure that however many you choose to use that they are well thought out and relevant to what you are sharing.

  • You’re a writer, use your words! While the platform is all about the perfectly styled photo, your words are important here as well. Use your gift to tell a story with your photo. The picture will draw people in, but your words have the power to captivate them and get them excited to come back again and again.

What You Should Be Posting

One thing that can often trip writers up when it comes to Instagram is what they should be posting. While styled photos of your writing space are interesting, there are only so many perspectives you can share, right? Not so! There are a plethora of photo opportunities waiting to happen, and millions of Instagram users that are waiting to see them.

  • Do you find motivation in inspirational quotes? Share those. You can doll them up on apps like Canva or PicMonkey.

  • Do you have a mockup of your next book cover? Reveal a portion or all of it to entice your followers and garner interest in picking up a copy once it’s released.

  • Working on a new chapter in an upcoming novel or memoir? Snap a photo of a few sentences and share as an exclusive excerpt.

  • Book signings and appearances are always of interest to followers, Have a friend take some candid shots of the process.

  • What’s the view from your writing space look like? If you have an interesting view outside your window, or a trusty furry sidekick that is always by your side be sure to capture that and share.

  • Travelling to an event (or even if you’re just on holiday)? Take interesting photos of the airport, your view from the plane or what you're reading to pass the time.

How to Engage With Your Followers

There are so many ways to get your fans engaged and excited about what you are working on, and this is one of the best ways to get them talking about you which leads to more exposure and followers.

  • Host a giveaway of a signed copy of your book. You can have followers take photos of something that they feel lines up with the theme of the book and tag you in the photo as well as usually a specially created hashtag. (The hashtag will help you keep track of who participated when you need to pick a winner.)

  • If you’re not comfortable with creating a special hashtag, another successful giveaway strategy is to have your current followers tag a friend in the comments for entry into your contest or giveaway. This effectively brings you a wider audience who will check out your feed and potentially follow you as well.

  • Always close your post with a call to action. Typically a question that somehow relates to the photo. An example of this could be a photo of the book selection at the airport market. You could ask for suggestions on what you should be reading. Giving those that follow you some semblance of responsibility in your choices creates a mutual trust that can become invaluable.

  • Asking questions, outside of the normal call to action, is a great way to get followers to interact. Ask them what books they are reading or who their favorite literary characters are.

Things to Avoid

For as many things as you “should” be doing on Instagram there are an equal amount of things that you should definitely avoid.

  • Too many photos. Filling up a feed with photo after photo within a short time frame is a sure fire way to get someone to unfollow you. If you have a large number of photos that you want to share from an exciting event you can use the multiple photo upload feature or add them to your Insta Stories.

  • Overbranding. A good rule when it comes to self promotion as an author is to only have about 75% of your feed be book focused. If you go over that you will run the risk as coming across as spammy and no one wants that. Be sure to mix up your posts to keep your audience interested and engaged.

  • Getting involved in controversy. Remember that this is your business account. Much like large corporations and celebrities, you should probably steer clear of getting involved in political debates or weighing in on the scandal of the week. Unless your book/brand is driven by a controversial stance, best practices often dictate that authors keep it light.

  • Having a private account. Having a private account is like waiting for Mr. or Ms. Right to stumble upon your doorstep; the odds are not high. If your goal is engagement and ultimately new readers, public is the only way to go.

 

Instagram is sort of the new kid on the block, so before you get started, you’ll want to make sure your readers are actually there. But with millions of users and more joining every day, odds are, they are.  If you need a little inspiration you’ll want to check out these accounts that are doing a phenomenal job on the platform.

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