With all the talk around TikTok these days, it’s easy to forget the power of Instagram for authors.
And with over one billion monthly active users, it can’t be discounted.
I really like Instagram for a variety of reasons.
First off, we also can’t talk Instagram for authors without mentioning the #Bookstagram hashtag! This is used by book reviewers, bloggers, and influencers to showcase books, and being featured by a Bookstagrammer is a fantastic boost to any author’s career.
But if we dig deeper, it’s also easier to brand your Instagram page because of how your content appears under your profile. It’s very visual, and very different from Facebook, Twitter and others that require a lot of scrolling before you get a real feel about the person or company.
In contrast, Instagram is very creative, and you can have lots of fun playing with colors, image formats, and themes.
Well-designed visual posts do so well on this platform because the brain is an image processor, not a word processor. So imagery (and video) have the ability to build a powerful message and following.
Not only does it allow writers to connect and engage with their readers, but it’s also a great way for writers to showcase their work and build an identity for themselves.
Given the highly visual nature of Instagram, it’s best to start with a well-thought-out strategy and post content that resonates with your target audience.
Part 1: Instagram for Authors Starts With Creating Content
- Start with a Goal
Maybe this sounds silly, but it’s interesting to note how many authors get onto the various social media platforms with no real goal in mind. Maybe aside from simply selling books, but that’s not a viable goal for social media, it’s not Amazon.
Deciding on a realistic goal will depend on where you are in the publishing process and your genre.
For example, if you’ve written a non-fiction book and your goal is to push your business, sell your services or build your speaking career, then your Instagram will look vastly different from a fiction author – because your goals are different. But regardless of your genre, one goal should definitely be networking – and this is something that Instagram really excels at.
So what kind of networking makes sense for your topic or genre?
What are your other goals for using social media? How will that affect how you use the site?
- Know Your Audience
Instagram for authors is driven by the audience, so it’s important to understand who your targets are. Knowing who your audience is and what type of content they engage with will help you create content that will be most effective in reaching your goals.
So where do you start? Well, start by following a few similar accounts and let their feeds inspire some ideas.
- Choose Some Tracks
Once you know who your audience is, it’s time to decide your content tracks. By “tracks” I mean what will you talk about.
This is often the toughest thing about Instagram for authors – and I get it, what you’ll talk about and share isn’t always easy. That’s why I recommend finding five tracks you consistently speak to.
Obviously one of them will be your book, so sharing new reviews or good news related to your book.
Another track could be personal info you’re willing to share. Maybe posting about your pets, or a recipe you made, or a recent vacation, you get the idea. Being likable and relatable will dramatically improve your presence so don’t forget this important element of social media.
For non-fiction authors this process of finding tracks might be easier but the reason this exercise is important is because it’ll help keep you focused.
If you have five tracks you can focus on creating content to fill those five categories and I promise you, it will make managing your account much less labor-intensive.
- Create High-Quality Content
Now that you have your goals, audience and tracks in mind, it’s time to start creating content. Make sure to create high-quality content that stands out and resonates with your target audience. This could be anything from eye-catching photos, branded imagery, and even memes and short videos. I love using Canva for image creation, it has so many templates and it’s also really easy to color match to your existing color palate.
- Show Your Personality
This is a big one! It’s so important to showcase your personality, especially on social media.
This can be done through captions, quotes, and other forms of content that show off who you are as a writer. And the reason I love this is that it helps to build a more genuine connection with your followers.
Part 2: Instagram for Authors Also Requires Smart Promotion
- Use Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to increase the reach of your content and get your posts in front of a larger audience. When using hashtags, it’s important to use relevant ones that are related to your content theme. This will help ensure that your post is seen by the right people.
For authors this can get tricky, so my biggest tip is to make sure you create a bank of relevant hashtags that speaks to your position as an author, but also your personality and the interests of your audience. For example #mysteryauthor, #bookhumor and #momlife are all very much viable on the same account.
- Collaborate with Other Writers
Collaborating with other writers is a great way to increase your reach on Instagram. You could collaborate on content creation, or you could use each other’s social networks to help promote each other’s work.
- Network with Other Writers
A like or a comment goes a long way so don’t be stingy with these. It’s a really great way to network with other authors, bookstagrammers, bloggers, and influencers! Tagging each other and sharing each other’s content is also a simple way to show some support and encourage organic interest between your followers.
Part 3: Instagram for Authors Relies on Strong Engagement
- Reply to Comments
One of the best ways to engage with your followers is to reply to their comments. This will show that you are actively engaging with your audience, and it will help build relationships with them. At the very least, always like comments (if you’re short on time).
- Ask Questions
Asking questions is a great way to get your followers to engage with your content. This could be anything from asking for their opinion on a book idea or detail or asking for feedback on a recent post – or sometimes it’s best to keep it simple, and fun, like asking for tips on how to deal with daylight savings changes, or ideas for really great appetizers for an upcoming book club.
- Host Contests
Hosting contests is a great way to increase engagement and get your followers involved. If you’re on social media you’ll have seen these before, and they’re amazingly effective. Ask for likes, ask them to comment, and to tag a friend, in exchange for a chance to win a free signed copy or a gift card. The point is, you want to give people an incentive to engage with you more.
And this is important in terms of Instagram for authors because the more you engage with an account, the more you see their content. So by encouraging engagement, and making it worth their while, you’re guaranteeing they’ll see all of your posts more consistently.
- Share User-Generated Content
Sharing user-generated content is a great way to show your followers that you appreciate their support. This could be anything from reposting their photos or using their quotes in your captions. Don’t forget to cite them appropriately and tag their account, even encourage your followers to follow them too.
Instagram for authors is fun and rewarding, and if you haven’t experimented with it, now is a great time. If you’re social media fatigued, I think you’ll find Instagram an easy place to get some traction. Not to mention it’s a great place to build a fan base, and engage with your readers.
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