Instagram for Authors – Top Tips and Strategies

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In our modern era, social media has become a necessity to build author platform. Yet with so many options available for social media, authors can quickly become overwhelmed. The good news? You’ll be better served by focusing your attention on one site rather than many. So on which site should you focus those efforts? I chose Instagram.

Twitter tends to get a lot of attention in the writing community but when I decided to start my social media platform as a writer, I turned to Instagram. Why? Because Instagram boasts a higher engagement rate than any other social media platform available. According to some studies, users are almost 60 times more likely to engage a post on Instagram. That’s huge!

In the last few years, more of the writing world has started to shift toward Instagram. Bookstagram (a well-known hashtag used to tag book posts) has become an established place to share, discover, and talk about books.

So how can authors use and leverage Instagram for their author platform? You can read more on creating your integrated author platform here: Author Brand and Platform – Build Them Now!

1. Create An Instagram Aesthetic

Instagram is an image-based social media service–which means photographs are going to be central to your posts. Some users also use memes, graphics/text designed in apps like Canva, or reposts from other users. (If you do repost, be sure to give credit to the post originator!)

Whatever you choose to post, though, it’s important for your content to be consistent and have a similar look or theme. Users will often come up with color schemes or tones for posting (dark, shadowy colors or neutrals, for example). If you use filters or presets for photos, be sure to always use the same ones–changing filters for each photo may be fun, but it’s also sure to mess up your aesthetic.

As you gain followers, users will visit your profile to see your feed. If they can’t quickly figure out a theme or are confused by your content, they won’t be likely to follow.

2. Establish Content Strategy

Once you’ve decided how you want your feed to appear, you need to start to work on content creation. There are several things which tend to populate the feeds of authors and they fall into these categories:

  • Author Life: These can be personal pictures OR behind the scenes shots of your writing life. Your captions will be the place to explain these pictures and to give users better insight into you as a person.
  • Books: Users, especially bookstagram followers, love pictures of books. Since writers should be readers anyway, it’s a great idea to take pictures of what you’re reading or books you love or inspire you.
  • WRITING: Don’t miss the opportunity to use Instagram as a mini blog. Talk about your works in progress, your published books, writing.

3. Increase Visibility and Engagement

One of the absolute best ways to get Instagram users to engage with your content is to engage. Instagram’s algorithm rewards usage of the app. This doesn’t mean you should like as many posts as possible or write spammy comments in hope that others will comment on your posts. Instead, take the time to thoughtfully comment on, share, save, or repost content that you find appealing.

If you find an account you particularly admire, be sure to follow and engage with that account. For very popular accounts, you’ll be more likely to actually engage with the user if you comment shortly after their post is published, as comments can get hard to keep up with after a while.

To increase your own engagement, don’t forget to use hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to make your content searchable to other users. Social media marketers disagree widely on how many to use (you can use up to 30), but DO take the time to research the hashtags you use. Make sure they’re relevant, not over-(or under)-used, and don’t always use the same ones. Also be sure not to use any hashtags on Instagram’s list of banned tags, as they can get you shadow banned.

4. Use Multiple Instagram Tools

Though Instagram is primarily photo-based, they’ve spent a lot of time developing other tools recently. “Stories” are an opportunity to post content that vanishes after 24 hours. Many users will post stories to show more behind-the-scene shots of everyday life (less curated than their normal feeds). They can also be great places to post short video updates on writing.

Instagram also rolled out “Reels” last year. This function allows you to make up to 30 second videos that can be posted to your feed and the Reel feed. Many users are finding success making short, snappy videos set to music that give helpful advice or are humorous.

Lastly, you can also use Instagram’s Live feature to stream live video content or IGTV to make longer videos (like YouTube). Instagram’s algorithm rewards versatile accounts, so the more features you use, the more likely your content is to be seen to your users.

With all these tools at your disposal, you’ll soon find it easier to get into a groove in posting on Instagram. Just remember to be authentic, engaged, and consistent–and one by one, the followers will follow.

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About Author

Annabelle McCormack is an author and photographer from Baltimore, Maryland. When she's not busy writing, she's chasing around her five kids and enjoying life in the country. To follow her journey, check out @annabellemccormack on Instagram, where she posts regularly about her adventures.

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