How Authors Can Rock Instagram
When I last wrote about Instagram for the GrubStreet blog, it was nearly three years ago. Looking back at that article is a bit of a time warp. I was making an effort to convince writers that Instagram was a good place to have a presence. Fast forward to now and while I might have to convince YOU that it's the right place to be, I don't have to convince authors as a whole. Or anyone else for that matter. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms, with over 700M monthly active users. 6 out of every 10 adults online are on Instagram. And nowadays a lot of them are authors.
"Instagram has been a place where I can bring my worlds (writing, baking, gardening, my weird obsession with dairy goats) together," fellow Grubbie Louise Miller, author of THE CITY BAKER'S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING, tells me. Her Instagram feed (@louisethebaker) is full of wonderful images of all those things she mentioned. It's a glimpse into what makes her tick as an author.
Jennifer S. Brown (@brownjennys), author of MODERN GIRLS says, "I feel like it's a way for readers to connect with me as a person, not just as an author. I also use it as a way to 'tease' what I'm working on, highlighting writing days and research." Elise Hooper (@elisehooper) author of the forthcoming book, THE OTHER ALCOTT, also adds that it's a great way to connect with other authors.
If you are thinking of taking the plunge into Instagram, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:
- Make sure you have a detailed bio, which includes the name and link to your book if you can. For example, here's mine:
- Consider a theme for your Instagram photos. While definitely not required, many authors will go with a particular theme that runs a thread through all their photos giving them a pleasing visual aesthetic. More ideas here:
- Be thoughtful about the lighting/filters. There are a few schools of thought about whether or not to use filters. Louise Miller says it's a no. "Don't use filters! Use the custom tools to get the image exactly where you want it." Jennifer S. Brown disagrees, "I'm not a super visual person and I find it an easy cheat to make the photos look better." To learn how to edit your photos like a pro, check out this article.
- Post regularly. This study says every day. Consistency will keep your viewers engaged.
- Hashtags are your friends. Using hashtags wisely will help grow your following and enable other people to find your photos.
- Use other tools and services to make things easier. Emily Ross (@eross816), author of the YA thriller HALF IN LOVE WITH DEATH tells me, "I use Canva a lot for creating posts, and I use the Repost app for sharing posts from others." I too am a big Canva and Repost fan. When it comes to reposting other content, Louise Miller suggests, "I use an app to regram people's images of my book, but I regram sparingly. I think on Instagram people really want to see original content."
- Consider using Instagram Stories. Stories are Instagram's answer to Snapchat. They are fast, fun, on-the-go moments which disappear after 24 hours. Use them to share small moments of your day, to send quick fun updates to fans or to just show how you like to have fun.
- Mix it Up. Miller says that "although it's tempting, try not to let your Instagram feed look exactly like your FB feed and twitter feed--it's boring to see the same images over and over again." She's right about that, although if you are posting enough content, mixing up the times can sometimes be all you need to make your feed feel fresh, even if you are sharing content across your channels.
But above all, have fun. Follow other authors, follow accounts that share your interests and enjoy the awesome photos that will come through every day.
In a future post, I'll explore how authors can take advantage of Facebook and Instagram advertising to directly reach their readers.
And I'd be delighted if you followed me on Instagram! @crystallyn14
Crystal King is a 25-year marketing, social media and communications veteran, freelance writer and Pushcart-nominated poet. She is the author of the FEAST OF SORROW, about the ancient Roman gourmand, Apicius, and the forthcoming THE CHEF'S SECRET (February 12, 2019, Touchstone Books) about the famous Renaissance chef Bartolomeo Scappi. Currently Crystal works as a social media professor for HubSpot, a leading provider of Inbound marketing software. Crystal has taught classes in writing, creativity, and social media at Harvard Extension School, Boston University, Mass College of Art, UMass Boston and GrubStreet writing center. A former co-editor of the online literary arts journal Plum Ruby Review, Crystal received her MA in Critical and Creative Thinking from UMass Boston, where she developed a series of exercises and writing prompts to help fiction writers in media res. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or at her website: crystalking.comSee other articles by Crystal King