Instagram for Authors: How to Reel in the Readers
Instagram boasts somewhere around 1 billion users and, as an author, new or experienced, this is a goldmine to get new readers. Curating an engaging and fruitful Instagram page can not only help you find more readers but it also allows you to engage with your existing fan base.
Since you are a writer and Instagram is more of an image-based platform, you may be wondering if Instagram is suitable for authors. The social media platform has a large community of bookworms known as “bookstagrammers” who are consistently sharing their favorite books and promoting their own work.
This amazing niche of writers on the bookstagram hashtag offers over 55 million posts. Whether you already have a fanbase and audience for your books, or if you are looking to discover your fanbase, they are likely on Instagram.
With such a large community, it is easy to disappear into this large pool of readers and have your content buried among all the other posts. All this means is you need to make sure your page is unique, consistent, and offers something special.
This article will help you curate the perfect formula for your style and set you up to find your loyal followers and potential future readers.
Here are some useful definitions before we delve into the world of Instagram:
Page: When referring to a page on Instagram, it is where all the user’s posts can be found on their account.
Content: Content refers to the subject matter of the image you upload onto the platform.
Feed: Your feed is the area where you scroll through all the pages and hashtags you are following.
Reels: Reels are short video clips that you can upload to your page.
Why Is Instagram for Authors a Good Idea?
The social media platform is a great way to both market your brand and give your audience a glimpse into your life. Readers are more likely to want to support and purchase your books if they know you on a more personal level. This is why social media is one of the best marketing options for authors.
This allows you to speak to your audience and even get feedback from them on what they like or don’t like about your style. Involving your readers more may even help you come up with creative ideas inspired by the readers.
When Should You Invest Time in an Instagram Profile?
It is best to set up an account for this platform if your target audience for your existing fan base ranges from teens to mid-thirties. These are the main users of Instagram.
Instagram can also help you research your next book by finding out what people are actually interested in. If you are writing about a specific city, search the hashtag for that city and see what comes up.
You can get a better idea of how your character may act by tapping into Instagram accounts that are similar to the type of character you are looking to write about. Then, of course, asking your followers for tips can also help.
If you are working towards publishing your next book, Instagram is a great platform to allow you to release teasers and create hype before your book is published. This will likely lead to more sales on your book.
Why Shouldn’t You Be on Instagram?
If you can create an account and put some time into managing and sharing content, then you may as well go for it; it can’t hurt to try. However, if your target audience is a lot older, you may not have so much luck.
You could always search specific hashtags to find out if your audience is on Instagram, but when you reach audiences around and above middle age, these readers tend to enjoy Facebook more, and engaging on that platform may have better results.
If you already have multiple social media accounts running, such as Facebook, Twitter, and any others, Instagram may be too much to handle. If you have enough success on other platforms and don’t have time to invest in another one, rather save the time for more writing.
Paid Vs Free Promotion Options
Instagram marketing for authors can come in two forms on social media platforms. One is to go the free route and generate organic followers through engaging content. The other is to go for the paid options of promoting yourself.
Instagram is a free platform for all and generates their income from advertising. Even if you choose to go for the paid options, this does not mean you will have to pay to use the platform; rather, you can choose to promote specific posts. These will cost you money.
How much money you choose to spend on a specific paid promotion post is entirely up to you, and the more you invest, the bigger the reach. So, you can choose to incorporate both options into your account.
You want to focus on generating organic followers for your account, and this means the accounts following you are run by real people instead of bots. There are plenty of offers on Instagram to gain thousands of followers in one day, yet these are fake profiles created for this reason. You should never have to pay for followers; instead, they should become followers organically.
Instantly growing your Insta account from zero to loads of followers is not realistic, and growing a true following on Instagram takes time, patience, and consistency. Yet, it can be done and paid promotions can help this along quicker while still gaining real followers.
All your posting on Instagram is free, and to create a reach and let your posts find people who may be interested in following your account is done through hashtagging. We will go through the hashtagging process later.
This method allows you to post onto sections of the platform where your target audience may be browsing, so selecting the right tags is key to finding the people who you want to follow your account.
If you choose to pay for specific posts, the platform will place your post on random users’ feed as a promotion post. This can be helpful to gain followers who may be interested in your work but haven’t found you through the hashtags.
When you promote a post, you will be required to fill in the criteria of people you would like to see your post. This includes demographics such as age, gender, location, and interests.
You choose your limit of spending and then Instagram does the rest. You may be charged any amount up to the limit you have set depending on how much traction the post receives.
It is important to select the type of posts you want to promote, and it should never be every post on your page. Promotions should grab the user’s attention and offer them something they will be interested in. A good type of post to promote is a giveaway post to generate more interest in both your giveaway and your page. This will also help you reach a wider audience.
Getting Started on Instagram
Choosing Your “Template”
When starting an Instagram account, you should first work on some planning to decide how you want to structure your page and what theme you would like to keep throughout. You can treat this just as you would your new book and find your theme to carry through.
When choosing your template, this means you are deciding how you want your page to look and what content you would like to be posting regularly. Social media, for authors, should be a place to extend their ideas and share more content with their audience.
Do you want to have a text-based page where you share quotes from other authors and your books? Or would you rather create an image-based page that shares vivid scenes and settings to inspire your audience?
This is entirely up to you and you can scroll through various hashtags on Instagram to find inspiration. However, be sure to stick to a theme so your page doesn’t become disorganized and chaotic.
Check out some inspiration from these famous authors:
Planning the Posts
The next step is to start generating some content ideas before you begin. Start with a consistent stream of content. This requires you to have some posts ready before you begin.
Instagram users desire consistency, and so they expect a fairly regular posting schedule from the accounts they follow. This does not mean you need to post a few times a day or even every day as this may be too much.
Rather choose a few days a week that suits you, maybe two or three, and keep those as your posting days. Stick to the same days each week so your audience can start to become accustomed to this. Soon, they will be eagerly awaiting for your Friday funny’s or your Monday moans.
To keep this schedule going, it is best to create a monthly social media calendar to track your posts for the month. If you work better on spur-of-the-moment inspiration, this calendar does not need to be very detailed. You can just give a theme for the day or type of post you want on that day.
Having this in order will help keep you accountable to posting regularly and consistently. This will result in followers enjoying and engaging with your content more. To organize these, there are a few helpful apps to keep you on track:
Posting Your Images
Once you have designed your template, envisioned how you would like your page to look, and drawn up a monthly schedule, it is time to get posting. There are a few key areas to focus on when posting images on Instagram.
Keep It Clean, Grab Attention, and Limit Text
Since we are looking at a photo-sharing app, it is best to stick to those guidelines, and offer your audience strong, compelling images to grab their attention.
This is not to say you can’t post quotes and text in the images, but rather keep this text to a minimum. Some pages focus on only sharing quotes, yet they ensure the quote is short and designed in bold clear writing.
Even though you are aiming to have readers engaging with your content, they may use Instagram as a break from reading, so while they are more likely to read more text than other users, you don’t want to go overboard with it.
Bold images are always a good choice and these are more likely to capture a user’s attention. You only have between 2 to 5 seconds to catch someone’s attention while they are scrolling through Instagram, and compelling images grab attention.
The next step is to hashtag your images. You will want to choose hashtags that are specific to your brand, style, and the content you have just posted. So firstly, start looking through various hashtags and choose the ones where your content is likely to shine.
An easy way to have your hashtags ready is to choose up to 30 (Instagram limits it to 30 hashtags per image) and save them in your notes on your phone to copy and paste them easily onto your post.
You should change your hashtags so you aren’t using the same ones for every image you post. Rather, create two or three sets of hashtags you can use interchangeably.
The next tip is to post your group of hashtags in the comment section. You want to keep your caption section free from crowding and only include a great caption without unnecessary words.
To do this, post your image with your caption, and then immediately comment on the image and paste your hashtags in there. This way, it will hide them away neatly but your post will still appear on the hashtag pages.
If you have a blog or a website, it is useful to link each of your posts to a blog or service you offer. Using SEO writing services can help you extend your reach even further by having your content found easily online.
A great way to link your Instagram posts to your blog and website is to use Linktree. This gives each of your posts a specific link that users can easily navigate to.
Filtering and Editing Apps
To elevate your images and create that attention-grabbing factor, you can look to edit them easily using some free editing apps on your phone:
Once you are posting regularly on your feed, it is advised to also post on your story to offer your audience more content. These stories can include polls or questions to gain feedback from your audience.
It is also a great way to allow your followers to ask you questions that you can then reply to, allowing them to get to know you better. Using stories allows you to post fun content that does not necessarily fit in your page’s theme.
Be sure to highlight some of your best stories to allow your audience to still access them. Also, look into using reels to create short videos to engage your audience more.
Inspiration on Social Media for Authors
Be sure to follow other accounts that are similar to yours or that spark inspiration. This will allow you to find more content ideas as well as to engage with others. Post, like, and share content from other pages; the Instagram landscape is more a friendly collaboration than a competitor rivalry.
Giveaways are always fun for your users and they can help lead you to more sales for your book. Create a fun competition or challenge and give the winner a free signed copy of your book.
To get you started, here are a few great author and reader accounts to check out:
Don’t forget to put some thought into your page before you begin posting and generate ideas for your theme so you don’t run out of content to post. Once you have a loyal following, they will understand if you go quiet for periods when you are writing strenuously but just be open and transparent with them.
Let your followers become your friends and talk back to them, follow some of the accounts to get a feel of who your audience is. Instagram is a fun and exciting way to connect with your readers beyond the connection your book provides.
Oh, and before you go, we have quite a fun time on our Instagram account. Why don’t you check out The Urban Writers on Instagram and share some love.
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