Oh, social media. How we both love and hate you! If you are a writer, either published or not-yet-published, you may feel like you must have a social media presence of some kind. While I don’t necessary agree that it’s mandatory, social media is becoming a more and more useful tool to promote yourself and your work. If you are not at all interested in using your instagram account to promote yourself, then that is perfectly fine and this is not the post for you! But if you’re starting to get into instagram and are wondering how to best utilize it, here are some tips!
- Use hashtags in your posts. If you are posting pictures of books, use hashtags like #bookstagram #bookish #booklover etc. If you are posting about author stuff, use #authorlife, #novel19s #writersofinstagram, etc. You can check the tags on other authors’ or bookstagrammers’ posts to see what they use. I found when I started using hashtags I got a few new followers each post.
- Longer descriptions are fine, especially if there is some way for your followers to interact beyond liking. Maybe you can ask a question that relates to the post, or show off your tbr and ask for recs. These things will get more engagement, although I will admit it can be daunting in the beginning to ask questions in your posts and not get much interaction.
- Utilize the Instagram Story function. Even when my posts weren’t getting many likes, I noticed that a lot more people had watched my instagram story. You can share music, images, video, text, share posts, invite people to ask questions, ask for people’s recs, create a poll, create a countdown, & a lot more. Again, I would watch some other authors’ instagram stories to get a feel for what they do. (And when you DO post stories, you can save them to highlights which allows your followers to see them after the 24 hours is over. I have highlights for book news, book events, and various craft videos I’ve made where I talk about writing).
- Post OFTEN. The more you post, the more people will see you pop up and engage. I started trying to do posts about twice a week which was a nice rhythm for me, although I didn’t always hit that, and on some weeks I surpassed it. Some people will post every day, but I personally don’t have the bandwidth for that. I do try to throw something up on my story every day though.
- Announce things on your instagram. You can always cross-post to twitter or whatever your favorite social media is, but I have always gotten a LOT of engagement on posts where I announce foreign rights, blurbs, reviews, or anything like that. (If you’re not published, agent announcements or anything like that also work!) You can also try running a giveaway for an ARC or pre-order that can get you new followers.
- Above all, treat instagram like a community. Engage with other people’s posts. Answer comments on your own posts. Create engaging and interactive stories so that your followers can communicate with you! All the reasons I love social media, and instagram in particular, have to do with the sense of community and connection they bring me. If you’re treating it like a place to show off your highlights to others and nothing else, then you’re missing the point!
That said, I don’t think you need to get too personal if you don’t want to! It’s perfectly fine to want to keep parts of your life private and many people don’t want to share that stuff online. There are other ways of engaging with people — talk about writing, talk about the books you love of the tv shows you’re watching, show off some cool book mail, show us some cute pet pics or whatever! I don’t like the idea that authors need to give up their privacy to have a following — and in fact I think it’s good to protect some of that stuff.
That’s all I’ve got and like I said, not an expert, but these are some things that have helped me!