First off, no, Instagram cannot and will not be your entire platform. That said, it’s the cornerstone of many successful writer’s digital marketing plans. It can be part of yours, too. How, exactly, can a writer use a platform based on images, though?
Go Beyond the Cover
So, the first picture you’ll probably think to share is your book cover. You’ve invested time and maybe money into this image already, so it makes sense to share it, right? Well, yes and no. By all means, share a picture or two of your book, but don’t limit your Instagram to this single image, and don’t let it overwhelm your profile. Sharing your book cover every once in a while lets followers who like your other Instagram content know that you have a book out that they might like, and it lets people who already enjoy your book recognize that you’re the author of their favorite story. Sharing too frequently, however, makes you look desperate, and it bores your followers.
Tell a Story
If you’re a writer, you already know the basics of telling a story with words. Instagram pushes you to evolve and create visual stories instead. It’s great personal development, and your established understanding of story can help you make wonderful Instagram content.
But what stories can you tell in one picture? Tell the story of your morning, of your dog’s misadventure, of your city’s intrinsic romance, or your personal vacation. Of course, Instagram lets you add multiple images to a single post, so if you want to share more scenes, go for it! Create an ongoing story that will keep followers coming back. These ongoing stories could and should include your latest work’s progress, upcoming publications, book tours, etc.
Social media isn’t so popular just because it’s useful. It’s popular because it’s fun! Enjoy yourself when you take pictures. Go on more walks for those pretty nature shots, have more adventure in your life, and don’t be afraid to be a little silly! Goof around with filters and take advantage of everything Instagram has to offer.
Involve Your Audience
They call it ‘social’ media for a reason. If you aren’t engaging with your followers, you aren’t doing it right. Use comments to speak with them directly, invite participation through contests, and pay attention when your followers tag your profile in their own posts.
Creating great content doesn’t automatically increase your visibility. You must hunt for new followers by using trending tags and networking with other writers, artists, and entertainers. Reach out and start conversations whenever possible. Use your image descriptions for hashtags and quips. Utilize multiple strategies to find, draw in, and hook potential followers who may be interested in the genre you write in. Fantasy writers benefit from links to things like Renaissance festivals, cosplay, and medieval history. Scifi readers like NASA, conventions, technology, etc. Look for the things your audience loves and meet them there.
Build a Brand
Who are you? What do you write? What makes you unique? Answer these questions, and you have the basis of your brand. Are you a tea and rainy day kind of romantic, or do you like clean white backgrounds for staged shots? Maybe you like selfies. Maybe you don’t. Instagram lets you express your own brand in a clever way, but always remember that each image you upload builds that unique image readers will associate with you and your work in the future.
The best way to learn Instagram is to get started. Download the app, explore things that interest you, and watch how authors and celebrities you enjoy use the platform. This may be the most fun you have advertising your work.