Making the Most of Instagram as a Writer
Instagram is probably my favorite social media platform. In addition to being simple, and effective, it's also super pretty to look at!
It's no secret Instagram is big. A recent statistic states it has over 800 million monthly active users, and is most popular with teens and young Millennials. In terms of the US, more than half of Instagram’s user base is between 18 and 29 years old.
When it comes to community, there's a HUGE book-lover, reader, and writer presence on Instagram, so as far as social media goes, it's a great way to expand your author platform.
But be careful.
Instagram is fun and by that token it can get unwieldy really fast if you don't have a game-plan for your personal brand/end-goal. It's important to have a solid strategy when it comes to what (and how) you choose to post. I'm still pretty new on Instagram, but I thought I'd share some of the tips I find most helpful when managing my own account.
CONSIDER HAVING MULTIPLE ACCOUNTS:
The number one mistake I see on Instagram is writers trying to do all the things with their accounts. They have writing posts, vacation posts, and lots and lots of pictures of their kids. As a mom, I get it, but I think there's real value in keeping the 'personal' stuff personal in it's own account. That way, you can have a dedicated Instagram space where you can focus solely on the categories/genres you write in. Now, I'm not saying you can't sprinkle some of your personal life into your writing life--especially if you write for kids or moms, then it makes perfect sense to post kid pics, but try to stay on brand (if that's your goal). Consistency is key on Instagram, and personally-speaking, I know for one that I tend to gravitate toward themed feeds.
Instagram allows you to create and manage up to 5 accounts, though you'll need separate emails for each one. Just go to your profile and click the gear or settings icon in the top right, scroll down and tap Add Account (it's near the bottom). From there, follow the prompts!
BRAND IS BUSINESS. SWITCH TO A BUSINESS ACCOUNT:
Did you know Instagram has an option to switch your account to a Business Account? It's free, easy, and it only takes a couple of clicks.
There are a few benefits to a Business Account, but I think the one that really applies to writes is that it grants you access to your analytics. Instagram calls these 'Insights' and they're pretty basic, but still valuable in terns of seeing and keeping track of your account's impact.
Insights include analytics for impressions, reach, and individual follower information for the past week, but it only works for posts that you create after you switch your account to a Business Profile.
VIBE ATTRACTS TRIBE. SETTLE ON AN AESTHETIC:
A common aesthetic between posts defines your brand. It helps people recognize your content right off the bat and they're more likely to like/comment. When choosing an aesthetic, think about things like color palate and tone (both in terms of message and look). This is something I still need to work on since my feed is a bit all over the place look-wise!
Vibe attracts tribe and aesthetic is a huge part of that! When choosing an look/vision for your Instagram feed, think about who your intended audience is and cater to them. How do you want people to feel when they see your feed?
DON'T FORGET THE CAPTION:
Instagram isn't just pretty pictures. Think of your feed as a microblog. Adding thoughtful captions to your posts is important because it helps you connect and engage with your followers. Even just a little bit of text can illuminate the intent you had when you posted a specific image and can be the thing to get people talking.
Adding a call-to-action to your captions is a great way to promote engagement by your followers (or potential followers). Asking a question is an excellent tool to prompt people to leave comments, but here are a few other ideas to spice up your caption by using a call-to action:
Tag a friend who . . .
Is your post about a blog post, or other content available online? Use a call-to-action to ask people to visit the link. Tip: Since links don't show up as hyperlinks in captions, it's good to say something like 'link in bio' and then put that link in your Instagram bio to make it easier for people to click and be redirected.
Create a post-specific hashtag (for example: something to do with your current book!), and ask people to post a selfie with the book using the hashtag.
ALL ABOUT HASHTAGS:
Simply put, hashtags are the number one way to expand your reach. If you don't use hashtags, chances are only your followers are going to see your posts, and you're not going to attract many new followers. Hashtags allow your photo to show up in hashtag feeds where they have a chance of snagging the interest of people scrolling through that feed. And if they're scrolling through #amwriting or #writerlife, etc., that means they're probably part of your target audience!
To make the most of your hashtags, be sure to do a little research to make sure they're being actively used by others. This isn't hard! To check a hashtag just start typing it into the caption section and Instagram will automatically show you how many posts there are per tag (it's also a good way to find tags that may be related to the one you searched for!). For example, I typed in #amwriting and Instagram shows there are over 1.2 million posts with this tag, as compared to #amwritingya, which only has 3 thousand.
And lastly, interact with your favorite hashtags! Carve out some time to engage with the photos and users posting under the same hashtags as you, and follow feeds that have content you genuinely connect with. It's the whole birds of a feather thing!
There are LOTS of hashtags out there, but I've complied lists of my favorites below. Be sure to check them out!
THE POWER OF CROSS-POSTING:
Do you have other social media platforms? If so, then be sure to utilize Instagram's cross-posting feature which allows you to link other social media accounts (such as Facebook and Twitter) so you can share your Instagram posts there instantly. It's super easy! For a step-by-step tutorial on how to link accounts to Instagram, check out their FAQ here.
ENGAGE. ENGAGE. ENGAGE:
I cannot stress this enough. If you want people to notice and follow you, you have to engage on Instagram. That means replying to and liking the comments people leave you, as well as checking our their feeds and leaving comments there, too. Engage on the hashtag feeds that you utilize and follow people whose message resonates with you. New followers can't find you if they don't know you're there. :)
I hope you enjoyed this post! Feel free to comment, and I'd love to see you over on Instagram. Check out my feed at @meganwritenow.
And, as always,