Instagram is a key component of your book or author platform marketing strategy and using it the right way is the key to building an engaged and relevant audience. How well does the written word – and an author platform in general – perform on Instagram? Better than you’d think, as long as you choose your images carefully and market them correctly. Learning more about how Instagram works and what to expect from the platform can help you harness the power of visual media for your book or brand.
Instagram for Authors: Top 6 Tips for Authors Using Instagram
Instagram, home of the food portraits, selfies and beautiful sunsets, is more than just a visual way to share some of your favorite things. The site has become a daily destination for millions of users who take the time to scroll though images on just about every topic and trend under the sun. Getting your book or author site out in front of a portion of those millions can help make your platform a success and expose your work to a fresh new audience. It is not difficult to begin building an audience on Instagram, but it helps to learn some of the basics before you start.
Grab your camera or phone, snap some compelling visuals and get ready to build your Instagram audience – these essentials will help you make the most of this eye candy based marketing platform:
#1. Hashtags, Hashtags, Hashtags
The hashtags you use on Instagram matter more than they do on almost any other social media site, except perhaps for Twitter. Using hashtags to describe your images allows them to be found in a variety of ways. Choose hashtags that are relevant to your book, platform or genre and use them regularly. While actual rankings change almost daily, the following hashtags are the most popular – use them well for the largest potential audience – as long as they actually relate to the image you are posting:
- #Post regularly
Knowing the lingo and using your hashtags correctly will help you organically grow your audience and expand your reach past your initial followers. Don’t overlook more specific hashtags relating to the season, books or reading to promote your photos (and brand), too.
Learning more about your own community of followers and what hashtags they seem to respond to best can help you broaden your base on Instagram. As your account grows and you become more comfortable with the platform you will naturally learn which particular hashtags you should be leveraging and which perform best for you.
Search through Instagram to see what other authors are using – and which terms represent the greatest reach when it comes to searchability.
#2. Choose Relevant Themes for your Posts and Images
Write romances? Then posting romantic images of sunsets, happy couples and similar visuals (and tagging them correctly) will help you appeal to followers who are romantics at heart. Horror authors may find that their audience responds best to creepy images and things that go “bump” in the night . Choose images that will appeal to your target reader and follower and you’ll be more likely to attract them to your brand. Don’t overlook commonly used or universal images as you post. A how-to author that writes about pets and training can easily build an Instagram feed with a steady stream of #cute #puppy posts and even #dogshaming humor.
#3. Be Accessible
Instagram followers may be as stalkerish as the ones you find on Facebook – and most love peeking through your entire feed for a glimpse of the real you. Share something of your authentic self, show off your pretty face or home (hash tagged #selfie, of course) and be accessible to other users.
When you let followers in and give them a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes or off the page, you give them a chance to make a personal connection; they’ll likely be back for more once they feel the know you a bit.
#4. Include a Call to Action
You can include a clear call to action on an image itself or in the caption; double tapping one of your photos will result in a “like” for your brand. There are several ways to include a powerful call to action on Instagram:
- Ask for followers to share your image
- Suggest viewers tag a friend “Tag your favorite reader/best friend/smartest person you know”
- Include the #S4S (Shoutout for Shoutout) tag to increase your engagement
- “Double tap if you agree” added to a quote or statement on an image
#5. Take advantage of Caption Length
You are a writer – so make the most of your 2000 character caption limit! Each image can be captioned as you like – and even though many images feature only a few hashtags, taking advantage of the full word count can help you relay your message as well. A sneak peek into a new work or sequel, behind the scenes tidbit or other relevant text can be shared with a longer caption length. Using varied lengths and word counts allows you to keep your feed varied and interesting and share your message, book and brand in different ways
#6. Support and Share with Other Authors
Whether another user is an author, reader or simply has an interest in your industry, taking the time to comment on or like their images can expand you reach. Even users who are not actively promoting a brand or product love to get feedback on their images, and reaching out helps build your network of contacts on the site.
A recent Instagram press release revealed that the site sees 400 million active users each month. It would be a mistake to simply overlook this visuals-driven social media site as you seek to grow your author platform and brand.
Samantha has been a professional freelance writer and journalist since 1996. Her expertise extends to social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. She has been published in a diverse group of print magazines and newspapers and online. Find her online at SamanthaMcNesby.blogspot.com and follow her on Twitter at @SMcNesby.