Instagram is a popular social media application that started as a platform for image sharing. Today, it has grown to be much more than simply sharing imagery. As of 2019, Instagram is one of the top 10 social media platforms for engagement ranking second, behind only Facebook. Think about it, a platform for engagement that’s better than Twitter? Yep, you read that right!
Not only is Instagram visually pleasing, but it also caters to a wide variety of audiences, which includes Readers! And that means authors need to get in on the action. As authors we are always looking for methods to add to our reader base, while Twitter is great for making connections with other writers/authors, it is important that we turn to other popular social media apps for building our reader base.
For 2019, it is projected that there will be an astounding 111 million active Instagram users in the United States. Yes, 111 million in the United States alone. Imagine the numbers globally. Now imagine the potential there for you to reach readers. And believe me, there are readers all over Instagram. It is known for its #readersofinstagram community and #bookstagram community. These are tags used by serious readers looking to buy, read, and review books. They are also the ones who take a break from serious reading to read blogs like ours that cater to their needs with short stories. The #bookstagram tag is a feed full of lovely photos Instagram users have posted of books. It is an art, and they call themselves #bookstagrammers. At the time I write this, there are 40 million photos under the #bookstagram feed. Like with everything else on the internet’s vast universe, if you need the reader to find you, it is imperative that you get out there and post imagery or short prose that is not only eye-catching but also keeps a reader’s interest. We have the “keeping the reader interested” part covered in our blog posts and book series. That means the only thing we need to work on is to catch their attention.
Do you see the power in Instagram yet?
I hope you do. Whether you’re there now or interested in diving in for the first time, I have tips to help you use Instagram to its fullest potential. As with most popular apps, there are supporting apps that can be used to enhance your Instagram posts to make it unique to your audience. I hate spending money on apps, as a rule, so most of my suggestions won’t cost you a penny. All it takes is some creative thinking and a little bit of effort to make your Instagram look worthy to a reader/fan.
What Should You Post?
As an author, cater to your reader base. As a reader, show them what you enjoy reading. Share photos that offer behind-the-scenes glimpses into your life as an author and reader. For example, you can post snippets from your current WIP or one of your books, you can write a piece of microfiction and post it with an image that complements your story, a piece of short prose, or writing and/or editing tip. You can also share what inspires you and what you enjoy reading. The choices are many.
Followers often find these insights engaging on bookstagrammers’ and authors’ pages.
Take a look at one of my Instagram posts that garnered a lot of interest.
The more important question is how should you post it? Aesthetics are important for Instagram, so it is advised to stick to a theme for your posts. There are multiple apps like Canva, VSCO, Prequel that you can download from your App Store (iOS) or Google Play Store for Androids. These apps are free to download and use and are also available on desktop/browser versions.
Apps that make Instagram Easy to Use
Just like Twitter, Instagram runs on algorithms, which means posting consistently, liking and commenting regularly increases your exposure on Instagram. There are apps that make posting consistently easier, for example, use apps like Later to schedule your posts in advance or apps like Repost to simply re-post what someone has already posted. It is similar to re-tweet on Twitter. All of these apps are free to download and easy to use on the phone as well as laptops. They are also easy to navigate and are user-friendly.
Statistics say that only 10% of your followers can see what you post at a time, which means, more the number of followers, more chances of your posts being seen. Other methods to make sure your post has visibility is to use hashtags. Use apps like “Smarthash” (the free version) to keep lists of the popular hashtags for authors/writers. As a rule, Instagram tends to smackdown/shadowban/entirely ban posts or even accounts that violate their rules by consistently using more than 30 hashtags at a time. Instagram also considers it spammy if you use the same set of hashtags for every post you publish. Thus, it is advisable to mix and match your hashtags. This is where apps like Smarthash can help. You can maintain a couple of lists to mix and match your hashtags. Other apps like Plan that help you plan and schedule your posts also help with tag generation. Some of the most popular hashtags used by Writers are:
#WritersCommunity #WritingCommunityofinstagram #Writersofinstagram #Authorsofinstagram #instareads #bookstagram #readerscommunity etc.
You will see a large number of posts under the popular hashtags when you start typing them. Remember more the number of posts under a tag the more popular it is, which means the more followers it has and the more chance of your post being seen by the followers of the tag.
Instagram stories are another method to drive traffic to your profile and thereby to your site. You can post the imagery that you publish to your profile as an Instagram story or you can create something new to post solely as a story. As with Instagram profile, apps like StoryArt, Canva, Layout, Boomerang make it very easy to create content for Instagram stories. It takes very little time and the number of resources available within these apps makes it very easy to create and post content quickly. Trust me, I manage 4 Instagram accounts and post regularly on 2-3 of these accounts. One is my personal account which is for family and friends but the other 3 are dedicated to my blog, AITP Blog and the AITP’s Divine Wardrobe. I am able to create content and post them to these accounts all within 15-20 minutes of my time in the mornings.
Instagram Creator Accounts
One of the important aspects to remember that most of the supporting apps for Instagram are more compatible with a business/creator account rather than personal accounts. If you have an author/writer’s Instagram account, then be sure to convert it from a personal one to a business account. They are free to upgrade and won’t cost you a penny, in fact, it’ll help you look more professional and attract more followers to your page.
Here’s how to convert your Instagram to a business account:
Click on the Vertical Ellipsis (3 bars) on the right side of your Instagram account to go to Settings. From Settings, click on Account and then choose “Switch to Professional Account”. You will have the option to select a business account or a creator account. For writers/authors/artists it is best to select Creator Account. This gives you more options for more growth tools and flexible controls to reach the kind of audience you are looking for. When prompted select Author or Writer as your preferred category for display on your profile.
I hope you find the above information useful. Do you have an Instagram account that I can check out or follow? Do let me know in the comments.