What Bookstagram Means to Me

Human Hand Meets Book Hand

I’ve been away from my blog for a few weeks because I’ve been working on a couple of projects for publishers.  Since my second Weekend Hashtag Project #WHP feature on Instagram, I’ve received more requests from companies asking us to get involved with campaigns which has been absolutely amazing but it’s also taken up my time as I’ve wanted to produce my best work for them.  Add to this a new homeworking contract as a transcriber, and my hours have quickly dissolved!

So this is just a quick check-in to share a post I wrote for frolic about what Bookstagram means to me . I’ve touched on this here before, but this piece really sums up our journey and the impact that Bookstagram has had on our lives.

There was a backlash against using books as props in the media recently. I won’t go into detail here but if you’d like to find out more then do read these excellent posts by The Book Satchel and The Lit Books – both pro-Bookstagram and rightly so. I’ve been part of many online communities over the years and Instagram, although by no means perfect, is the most positive and supportive that I’ve found.  In a world that’s becoming increasingly fractured, it’s great to be part of an articulate collective that constantly reflects on society and allows people to express themselves freely. For me, it’s opened new doors at a time when I felt frustrated with the narrow focus that traditional career routes offer.

And now I find myself considering ‘what next’? Now that I have a ‘portfolio’ career, I’m working out which strands to develop and how to blend these successfully.  There’s a lot to think about and I hope to be back soon with more news about our plans. Until then, may you be blessed with the all best books!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Ways To Increase Your Chances of Getting Followed Back on Instagram

Following Symbol InstagramOne thing that’s intrigued me since I started on Instagram is the sheer number of follow/unfollows that flood through my account on a regular basis.  I’m not talking about the ones that retreat gracefully after a few months, but those that bail after a couple of days and I find myself asking the question – what do these users want? Connection? Numbers? Recognition? I’m sure that these experiments work occasionally, but the people fly in and out of my page so quickly that I don’t even have time to notice them.  And I’m not someone who only connects with big accounts – for me quality counts over quantity. I’m just as likely to follow someone with 300 followers as 100K although I admit it’s rarer for me to commit these days as I struggle to keep up with my current follows.

So what makes me want to follow back?  A combination of factors – some less obvious than others, but there are certain elements that make me more inclined to hit that button:

A Public Account

This is essential for me – and I’m guessing for many others too.  If I can’t see what you’re posting then I’m highly unlikely to follow even if your numbers are stellar (exceptions for family & friends of course).

Consistent Interaction

I’m primarily on Instagram for the community and I try to be a pretty loyal follower (although it’s not quite as easy with the new algorithm) so this is really key for me. If someone follows me and then interacts over a period of time then I’m more likely to follow them back. In my first year, I could see engagement through likes, but comments are more visible these days.  We’re not talking stalker-territory here – just the occasional meaningful response which shows that we share common ground. I’ve been caught out by professional follow/unfollowers (including sizeable accounts) in the past so I’m pretty cautious about jumping in quickly.

Quality Content

Beautiful and creative photos always catch my eye, but the caption is important too. I love it when a kind voice shines through or gives me a new angle of life/books/art/creativity/nature. The same goes for good business, travel, lifestyle or social media advice – I like to learn from others and find out more about their unique take on a range of subjects. It has to be gentle though – hard sells are a no-no.

Sociability

The comments on people’s posts are often revealing as they give me an idea about how they interact with their own followers  – whether this is a social space for them or just a place to grow numbers. I realise that not everyone has the time to chat so it’s not a deal breaker especially if the content is exceptional, but it’s definitely a consideration.

Similar Connections

When I first started out, checking mutual accounts wasn’t as important because I was still feeling my way with the platform and actively looking for people to follow, but as my circles have widened, this is something I take notice of. If an account follows similar pages to mine then it suggests that we are more likely to share the same values and aesthetics.  I trust the people I already follow so if there’s a link between us, however small, I’m more inclined to think that we might be a good match.

Additional Online Resources

Blogs, courses and podcasts always make me sit up as long as they’re not too salesy. They show that the person takes their online presence seriously and is striving to offer useful information to their audience.

Adverts and Business Accounts

The controversial one! There’s been a lot of backlash against ads but as a part of the bookstagramming community, I’ve been used to them from day one as most bookstagrammers post gifted books on their pages.  I also follow lots of mums who make extra money from influencing so this isn’t an issue for me unless an account is overtly promotional.

For business accounts it’s harder.  I rarely follow these unless I really love the brand or the product/service.  I could write a whole post on this subject – lots of businesses miss the mark which is a shame as they could maximise their accounts quite easily.

As I spend more time on the platform though,  being followed back isn’t the number one concern. I subscribe to accounts without any expectation of reciprocation because I love their content and in my eyes that’s the only way to find real satisfaction on Instagram – not through numbers, but through careful curation.  In the words of William Morris “If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Buddy Reading on Instagram

A little girl reading with her dog

One of my favourite things about being a bookstagrammer is being able to read books with other bibliophiles all around the world – a practice known as buddy reading (also called readalongs). When I started out I had no idea that these existed, but as soon as I found out I was straight in there and during my 18 months on the platform, I estimate that I’ve taken part in around 15 of these.  I’ve written this blog post to give a little background on the process and also to share some thoughts from fellow book lovers following a series of polls I ran on Instagram.

So what exactly is a buddy read?

It’s where you agree to read a book at the same time as an online friend so you can discuss it together – either during the process or after you’ve finished.  A bit like a book club without the ongoing commitment or geographical restrictions.

OK sounds interesting, but are there any other benefits?

Well firstly you get to pretty much choose which book you want to read.  And then there’s the bonus of all the potential global perspectives on the text.  If that’s not enough, you might meet new bibliophiles too. In the poll (1), 43% of people said they’d met new friends after joining a buddy read. Oh – and it’s quite addictive – 24% (2) of participants said they’d participated in over 5 shared reads in the last year.

I’m sold, how do I get involved in a readalong?

If you post about books on Instagram then there’s a fair chance that you’ll see users mention readalongs from time to time.  If you spot a book that you want to read then either DM them or add a note in the comments.  Most bookstagrammers will be happy for you to join in.  Alternatively, why not organise your own buddy read by inviting people to participate?

How many readers will there be?

Personally I prefer smaller groups as they’re easier to coordinate and 76% of responders agreed that 1-5 members is about right (24% didn’t mind) (3)

What happens in a buddy read?

Usually the coordinator will set up a private group in Instagram so you can agree guidelines.  Everyone needs a chance to get hold of the book and some will want to order it from the library so it might take a few weeks to get started.

Every shared reading experience I’ve had has been different.  In response to the poll (4), 62% of readers liked structured readalongs and 38% preferred unstructured so if you’re new to buddy reading then I recommend trying out a few groups first to see what works best for you.  Here are some aspects to consider:

  • End Date – this needs to account for all reading speeds and other commitments.
  • Review points – do you catch-up each week or at the end?
  • Questions – do you circulate a set of prompts beforehand or go freestyle?
  • Round-Up – do you want to finalise everything via text or will you one step further and host a live chat?

What kinds of questions can I expect?

If you love books then you’ll have lots to discuss. Here are a few ideas:

  • Which character did you like most/least and why?
  • Did the ending satisfy?
  • What was your favourite line in the book?
  • Were there any re-occurring themes? What do you think these signified?
  • What were the strongest/weakest elements of the book?

What if things don’t go to plan?

They most likely won’t! Sometimes life gets in the way so flexibility is key.  Try to commit but if you’re unable to or someone else is delayed then just keep on talking.  Above all, the experience needs to be fun and if a readalong doesn’t work out, there will be plenty more to choose from.

Are there other kinds of buddy reading groups?

Buddy reading is popular on Goodreads too. If you want to find out more then check out this post by the moon who listens.

Poll ran on Instagram 18/09/18: Samples sizes (1) 125 (2) 114 (3) 154 (4) 111