How To Use Instagram for Authors
Social media (like fashion) changes with time, most of us have a Facebook account followed by a Twitter feed, but the switch to predominantly using Instagram happened a while ago, so if you’re not already on this platform too, you could be missing out.
The great thing with Instagram is that it’s very visual, it’s easy to use and very focused towards using with your cellphone, so no matter when and where you are, there’s normally an opportunity to connect with your followers/readers.
So, first thing’s first, if you don’t yet have an account, now is the time to set one up, you can sign up at https://www.instagram.com/ make sure you select a professional looking (and relevant) profile image, also take the time to write a short bio for your profile. If you download the app from either the Google Play or Apple Store, you’ll be able to sign up via the app too.
One – Adding content
Instagram is focused more towards mobile use, so adding images is incredible easy using their app which allows you to take photos from your phone, add filters and then upload. However, if you want to add content that you make on your computer you’ll need to ensure that the size is correct (you don’t want to add a huge panoramic only for it to be hard to view once uploaded.
If you go larger than their recommended sizes Instagram will compress the image, this can make the post look a little blocky in comparison to the original image, so try to stick within their guidelines for the best results.
You can add content to your Instagram page through your PC, but it will normally require the use of a third party app to do so, you could also save the post to any cloud storage and access from you phone to post, or send it directly to your phone to post.
Two – Using Hashtags
When I first started with Instagram I was posting some great content but never using hashtags, the result, no one saw my posts. Hashtags help people (who aren’t following you) find your content, of course they need to be specific to what you’ve posted and more than just one or two of them, however, don’t get carried away, if you use more than thirty you’ll find that the caption for the image gets removed.
Three – Self Promotion?
The golden rule is in not over promoting your book, if your feed is just one long advert then people won’t engage, you should aim to have just 20% of your posts being ads and the other 80% being non advertising. Think of what you like to view when browsing Instagram (or which ever social media site you prefer), is it just the advertising you look at? No, we all quickly scroll through this, your viewers will be just the same.
Four – Engagement
Social media is, well… about being social (the key is kind of in the name), so engage with people, comment on others posts and reply when people comment on yours.
Five – Look for moments to share
There will be millions of opportunities for you to share posts with your followers, now this doesn’t have to be every single meal you eat from now on (please, if you’re not a food writer, don’t share meals, we all eat, we get it). But, if you wander into your local Barnes & Noble and they have your book on display, take a photo and shout about it. Or you may have just completed chapter one of your next novel, an image of you with a big smile sat at your laptop would be great too.
Be creative and have fun, as long as it’s not a stream of constant adverts you’ll have a better chance of connecting with others.
Six – Keep Posting
Try to post something every day if you can, this will keep your feed in the mind of your followers and indicate to Instagram that the account is being actively used.
Also think about when you should post, now this will be different for each author, if your audience is made up of adults in their 30’s (for example) then you might want to post from 7pm onwards when they’re back from work. However, if your audience is mainly teens, then posting earlier when they’re back from school would be better.
If you’re not sure when you should post, look at other authors who publish in the same genre and to the same demographic, you can always copy when they post.
Seven – Ask some questions
An easy way to engage with your followers is to ask them something, what are they reading? What’s the best book or worst book they’ve ever read? What are they planning to read next? The list of questions you can ask is endless, just be creative and engage when your readers respond.
Eight – Advertising
You can pay to advertise your posts which can really help in targeting specific readers, just remember that if you are setting up an ad campaign it will be done through Facebook’s Ad Manager, this will allow you to get very specific with your targeting and also your budget, you can set daily budgets and specify the timeframe for the ad to run.
Nine – Give stuff away
Offering a free copy of your book (especially if it’s signed) is a great way to get followers to like your post and engage with you, you can also offer other prizes to increase the interaction with people who may not currently be following you. There are authors who give away copies of their own books with copies of a famous author’s book too, this way they have a better chance of gaining the attention of the other audience too.
Ten – Test and Monitor your posts
Try different approaches and offers with your posts, with some trial and error you’ll find out what works and what doesn’t, just make sure that your content looks great, it’s interesting and that it’s not all advertising.
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