If you want to expand your business online, SEO and social media are the best available tools. They help you build your brand, and become visible to your target audience. Of course, you need to create a website and provide value to your visitors, but that’s a topic for another day.
As a writer, you need to promote your books and services just as much as any other business – you need to reach new readers and clients.
Now, while most businesses are aware of the uses of Facebook and Twitter in leveraging their growth, Instagram is one platform that isn’t used as much – especially by writers. It makes sense, since you can’t post written content on Instagram. While you can post mini-blogs to Facebook, the most you can do on Instagram is stories with a sentence or two.
That sucks…or does it?
In today’s blog we’ll discuss why Instagram is a great platform for writers to advertise on, and how you can use it to get your business to the next level.
Instagram for authors – what are its benefits?
Why should you use Instagram instead of sticking to Facebook and Twitter? Here are some reasons:
1. It’s trendy
Once, Myspace and Orkut were the websites to hang out on. We didn’t see as many (if any) businesses advertising on those platforms, but imagine if they’d stuck to those websites instead of moving with the times. Trends change, and you need to adapt your strategy or you’ll get behind.
Facebook and Twitter have had their run, and their popularity is slowly declining. While Twitter may still be as popular, we think it’ll start to get “old” soon. It’s simply how things work. Facebook’s popularity has been on a decline for a while now. With many people leaving the website due to privacy concerns and others simply preferring other platforms, Facebook isn’t as profitable now for businesses.
2. It’s not as saturated
You’ll find a Facebook and/or Twitter page for just about every major company and business. These platforms are easy to use, have a large user base, and are business-friendly. In brief, they are (were?) a goldmine. So, businesses flock to them and both platforms have more-or-less reached their saturation point. If you scroll through your Facebook or Twitter feed, how many ads do you see?
While Instagram definitely has ads, it isn’t saturated to the same extent. It’s probably a highly competitive space if you’re in the beauty and fashion niches, but as a writer, you should find more breathing space on the platform. And more importantly, you’ll find less competition.
3. Pictures are a different medium
Another reason why you should use Instagram – authors will find it new and refreshing. Instagram doesn’t allow text-only posts and needs every post to have at least one image or video. Writers are mostly used to posting their writing, so this restriction will be a breath of fresh air. You’d think it’ll make things difficult, but you’d be surprised!
When you make your living with words, it can be suffocating having to come up with clever bits of writing all the time – for articles, books, social media, interviews, what-not. Your writing will be reviewed critically no matter the platform, so it’s nice to use a website where posting written content is strictly optional.
Instagram for authors – tips and tricks
Here we’ll share some tips that’ll help you use Instagram better. You’ll learn how much promotion is okay, how to use hashtags, how to draw in followers with the first line, and more.
Limit promotion to 20% of all posts
There’s a golden rule in internet marketing – for every promotional post you make, you should post 3-4 non-promotional, interesting posts. This is so your account doesn’t start to feel spammy, which would cause your followers to get annoyed and leave. Coming up with post ideas is usually pretty easy. However, if you have Instagramblock (like writer’s block), here are some ideas:
Instagram content for writers could include pictures of books, tips on the writing process, questions to followers (what elements to choose in a scene or character, for instance), a sneak peek into your everyday life, humorous posts, you practicing your hobby, anything. If something funny happens, like a pigeon stealing food from your kitchen, record it and post.
Some people prefer to keep their posts related to their profession, but we think it’s important to show your followers that you aren’t just a writer – you’re also a human being.
It’s not always possible to come up with new ideas, so you should follow a couple other writers (or related accounts) that you feel have the same style as you. One that we’ve really enjoyed in the past is Goodreads. They post pictures and videos relevant to readers, and exude a friendly, nerdy, cozy feel.
Your inspiration doesn’t have to necessarily come from Instagram; feel free to browse through Facebook and Twitter as well – they have some gems. Besides, if you’re targeting a niche audience you really can’t limit your search to one website.
Just like we get story ideas after reading a book, you’ll get ideas when you go through other people’s posts. If you feel they’re bordering on being similar, add some of your personality to the post, or throw in a small twist.
Use the right hashtags
Hashtags are to Instagram what SEO is to Google. They help people find you on Instagram. So if you understand how to use them properly, you should be able to draw in a much larger audience and find people with very specific tastes.
Every post should ideally have between 9-10 hashtags, with 9 being the best number for engagement. Check out Instagram accounts of influential writers in the same niche as you. Which hashtags are they using? They probably have a dedicated social media team working for them, so giving their hashtags a try may bring you some results!
Instagram hashtags for authors should be specific (#femalescifiauthor as opposed to #author). However, don’t overdo it. If you use #31yofemalescifiauthorwithglasses…yeah, that’s not likely to bring you many extra followers.
Organize giveaways and other contests
While our other tips will help you reach out to a like-minded audience and draw in real followers, this will help you generate more engagement. Sometimes, that’s what you need – especially when starting out, or right before a launch or release.
While the most popular idea is to give away some of the books you’ve authored, giving away books by more popular authors (think classics or bestsellers) is a better idea if you want to attract a larger crowd. You could also give away themed gifts during holidays or special occasions. It’s not super expensive, but it generates considerable excitement and helps your business grow.
One of the best ideas during a giveaway is to ask people to tag 3 friends and share one reason why they should win. The idea here is that the 3 friends being tagged will also want to enter, so your post’s reach will grow exponentially.
Have a great introduction
Your Instagram bio needs to be short and snappy. It needs to tell people who you are, and why following you is a great idea. As a writer, you must be at home with this. Brevity is often necessary – whether for an ad, a book blurb, or an introduction.
So when writing their Instagram bio, writers should make sure they get in a “hook”. You know how books often have an excerpt from the climax at the beginning? That makes books with a slow start more exciting because right at the start the reader got a glimpse of the action to come. Your introduction needs to do the same.
You want to draw people in and make them subscribe. Make them relate, make them like you. Or if you’re using your account to promote a particular book/series, make them wonder what’s in the book. Shorten your book’s blurb and use that as the bio, or tell a quick little fact about a character.
Connect and engage
Social media is wonderful because it makes communication so easy. And not just that – it makes celebrities and other famous people seem so reachable. You’ll often see celebrities answering their followers’ questions, or retweeting/favoriting their posts. It gives people joy to be acknowledged by their idols, and they flock to people who do that.
Keep that in mind. Rather than being formal and businesslike on social media, be friendly and approachable. Invite people to ask you questions – about your life, your pets, your books – or ask them questions. In fact, asking questions is one of the simplest, most effective ways to increase engagement.
Ask people how their day’s been, what collaboration they’d like to see, their thoughts on your sketch, anything. The goal here is to spark conversation and show people that you’re interested in them.
So this was an article about Instagram for authors. Hopefully, it answers some of your questions and helps you use the platform to your advantage. If you’re new to Instagram, we recommend that you research the photography aspect, so you can ensure the best possible experience for your followers with a tiny extra bit of effort. Follow lifethisway.com for more tips and guides!