By Crystal King
Instagram is the current darling of the social world. It’s one of the fastest growing social media platforms, with over 1 billion monthly active users. Six out of every ten adults online are on Instagram. And nowadays a lot of them are authors.
Following fallout and drastic algorithm changes resulting from the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, people flocked to Instagram, many not even realizing they were owned by the same company. One of the reasons is that Instagram engagement is higher. Ten times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and a whopping 84 times higher than Twitter.
Readers also love Instagram and there is some thought that the platform has also helped to rejuvenate Indie bookstore sales.
If you are thinking of taking the plunge into Instagram—or are already there and are looking to give your strategy a boost— here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:
Think about how you can provide more than just pretty pictures
Your followers want value, information, or entertainment. Try to provide a good mix of content that meets all three of those desires.
Consider switching to a business account
Unlike Facebook, there is no difference in engagement between business and personal accounts. A business account will enable you to boost posts through advertising, the ability to create collections of Stories on your profile (rather than having them disappear after 24 hours, forever), and give you analytics through Instagram Insights. Here’s how to switch. You can always change it back at any time, but note that you will lose any analytics history you might have.
Have a detailed bio
Include the name and link to your book if you can. For example, here’s mine:
Have a call to action in your profile
You can’t use links on Instagram except for one link in your bio, in advertisements or in Instagram Stories (if you have 10,000 followers). Consider carefully how you want to use that one link in your profile. Do you sell books from your site? Do you have a contest you are running on Goodreads, or perhaps a new article you want people to read? Or maybe you have a deal on a book? Send them there. I use a service called Link Tree that allows me to have one link that opens up to reveal specific links:
Link Tree has a free version and a paid version with more features for $6 a month.
Don’t be a once-in-a-while poster of pictures, and don’t just randomly share images and videos without a plan behind them. Your followers will appreciate consistent and cohesive content. Consistency will keep your viewers engaged. How often to post? Consistency matters more than frequency, but that said, don’t let too long go between posts. And having a few amazing photos is better than a dozen so-so images.
Consider a theme for your Instagram photos
While definitely not required, many authors will go with a particular theme that runs a thread through all their photos giving them a pleasing visual aesthetic.
More ideas here:
- Instagram Theme Guide
- What Are Instagram Themes? Five Accounts to Give You Inspiration
- 21 Instagram Theme Ideas
Be thoughtful about the lighting/filters
If you can, make sure there is some natural light in your photos. To learn how to edit your photos like a pro, check out this article.
Hashtags are your friends
Using hashtags wisely will help grow your following and enable other people to find your photos.
Use other tools and services to make things easier
Dive into Instagram Stories
Stories are Instagram’s answer to Snapchat. They are fast, fun, on-the-go moments that disappear after 24 hours. Use them to share small moments of your day, to send quick fun updates to fans, or to just show how you like to have fun.
Above all, have fun. Follow other authors, follow accounts that share your interests, and enjoy the awesome photos that will come through every day.
If you are interested in learning more about Instagram, you can take the free 1.5-hour course I developed for HubSpot Academy, Developing an End-to-End Instagram Strategy for Your Business. And if you think, oh, I’m not a business, then let me correct you—as an author who wants to sell books, you really are a small business and when it comes to marketing yourself, you need to think like one.
And, I’d be delighted if you followed me on Instagram! @crystallyn14
Crystal King is the author of The Chef’s Secret and Feast of Sorrow, which was longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. She is an author, culinary enthusiast, and social media professional. A Pushcart Prize–nominated poet and former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in critical and creative thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in medias res. She resides in Boston.