7 Instagram Tips for Authors

Reader jumping out of a bookAs a keen Instagrammer, I come across author accounts all the time. Some are brilliant, but it’s become increasingly clear that many writers aren’t sure how to max out their pages. As a marketing tool, Instagram involves more effort than Twitter or Facebook but if done well, then it can reap many more rewards because there’s a passionate community of readers (known as bookstagrammers) on this particular platform.  In this post I’ve stuck to 7 basics which should help writers to boost their Instagram accounts.

1. Only Connect

If I could give one recommendation then this would be it.  Explore Instagram and find readers who enjoy reading the type of books you write and read.  Search for your book and/or genre hashtags and like people’s posts. If someone has given you a rave review then comment and seriously consider following them.  You can choose to follow hashtags so I would recommend following your own title (if you’re published) to make sure that you acknowledge positive posts about your book.

How to follow an Instagram hashtag

2. Be A Reader

I’m guessing that you write books because you love reading.  Post about your current and favourite reads as well as the ones which have influenced your writing.  For many people it’s much easier to identify with a reader than a writer.

3. Maximise Your Hashtags

Big hashtags such as #bookstagram and #currentlyreading are good for finding readers but not so great for finding followers because your post is likely to get lost. When you type a hashtag you should see how many times it’s been used. Go for 5 figures and below. Don’t use #follow4follow or any of the spammy hashtags – this will only attract the bots.

4. Share Crisp, Bright Photos

This really needs a post of its own. As a general rule, shoot in natural light where possible or if not, use an app like Snapseed to increase exposure (not saturation). Bookmark photos that you like on Instagram and try to emulate them (credit if it’s an obvious match).

5. Be Consistent

The biggest growing accounts post every day, but very few people have time to do this and to be honest, no one wants to be flooded with tons of material. As a general rule, I would say aim to post quality content at least twice a week with a max of one a day (if you love taking photos).

6. Grow Organically

If you’re a writer then you also have a brand to nurture. Don’t chase likes or numbers, but rather focus on building a quality following that’s made up of people who relate to your content. Similarly, try to follow accounts that interest you.  There’s a lot of emphasis placed on having fewer follows than followers but as long as you maintain an equal balance this is fine.  It’s about connection not game-play which leads me onto a note about the follow/unfollow strategy.

For those of you who aren’t aware of follow/unfollow tactics – it’s where Instagrammers follow lots of accounts (usually small ones) so you’ll follow back and then they unfollow you a few days after in the hope you don’t notice. Please don’t do this! Many account holders are wise to these tactics and it can undermine your authenticity.  Better to build slowly and with integrity – this way you’ll gain many more true fans.

7. Link Up Your Accounts

Make sure that you link your Instagram with your other accounts or at least promote it on your other social media pages.  You can then share content across all platforms which will cut down the time you spend on managing your digital presence.

So for a solid, basic Instagram account – you should be aiming for connection, consistency and clarity.  It takes time to develop something meaningful, but if you do it with heart then your audience will be more likely to listen when you have something important to share.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Featured on the Instagram Weekend Hashtag Project (#WHP)

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**Hooray! Four months after this post was first published, I was featured again for #WHPdailylife **

Last week, the wonderful and hugely exciting happened – my photo of a book tree was featured on Instagram after I entered the #whp🌲 challenge.  Since then, nearly 600K people have seen my hallway (and Martha) which is mind-boggling!  My personal account has also received a boost. I’ve gained over 2000 followers since the photo was posted and have had lovely comments from all over the world. I am so grateful for each and every one especially after taking such a creative leap this year.

But the real reason I’ve written this post is to shed some light on the challenge itself so that others can join in and have a chance of being featured too.

The Weekend Hashtag Project (#WHP) is announced by Instagram on Fridays (late GMT) so first of all, you need to follow their main account.  Each week, they set a new prompt with an accompanying photo or video as an example of what they’re looking for.  The rules do change for time to time so keep checking, but here are the guidelines from last week:

PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPoddlysatisfying hashtag only to photos and videos shared over this weekend and only submit your own visuals to the project. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged photo or video shared over the weekend is eligible to be featured next week.

You then have the weekend to post material which matches the theme.  After this time, Instagram then selects up to 6 entries to be featured. If you’re new to the WHP, I recommend looking back over past features to get a feel for the successful content. Creative shots often get picked, but so do other styles – and captions count too.  Account size doesn’t make a difference – I had just over 2500 followers when I was chosen so tiny by Instagram standards.

I think my biggest piece of advice for the WHP is to have fun with it. Use it to view the world in a fresh way. Anything goes so be playful and free – find your voice. This was my 9th attempt so it’s worth persisting.

As always, if you have any questions about the challenge, get in contact with me via the comments or the contact page.