Do you use Instagram? If you don’t, or if you’re still knew to it, this post contains everything authors want to know about Instagram.
Instagram is growing day by day. According to Statista, as of September 2017 Instagram had 800 million users. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had 900 million users or more by now.
According to the Pew Research Center’s March 1st report, Instagram is the fourth most used social media network, behind Facebook, YouTube, and Pinterest.
Part of Instagram’s growth might be due to the mother of all social media networks, Facebook. After Facebook purchased the app in 2014, Instagram’s user base soared by 60%.
Instagram took off with teens and Millennials. Today, according to the Pew Research Center, 35% of all internet users in the U.S. have an Instagram account. Of those, 39% are women and 30% are men.
More About Instagram’s Users
The age breakdown among users trends toward the younger crowd. Most users are between the ages of 18 and 29.
However, there is a fairly large number of users between the ages of 30 and 49. The older age groups tend to be smaller with the 65-and-above crowd making up the smallest percentage of users.
What we know for sure is that for interacting with readers, Instagram is increasingly a great platform for engaging with them.
Readers on Instagram
If your reader demographic is between the ages of 18 and 49, Instagram can be a strategic application for you to use. If you write young adult, new adult, dystopian, and teen and young adult romance and science fiction novels, then you need to spend time connecting with your readers on Instagram.
However, some agents are recommending that all authors, including nonfiction writers with an older readership, also use Instagram.
But if your audience isn’t on Instagram, does it make sense to use it? I’m a huge proponent of saving time on social media by only spending time on those networks where you’ll find your readers and your colleagues.
But with Instagram’s popularity, it might make sense for you to follow Jane Friedman’s advice: grab your username anyway. After doing that, play around with Instagram and see whether it’s worthwhile for your genre and readership. If it isn’t, leave Instagram, focus your energy on other platforms, and return to it later to test it again.
The beauty of Instagram – and this is why it’s easy to test it – is that it’s effortless to incorporate it into your life. You’ll see why if you keep reading. For now, let’s leave the statistics behind and talk about how to sign up and use this tool.
How to Join Instagram
Joining this network is easy. Sign up by navigating to Instagram.com on your desktop computer or download the application on your smartphone and signup.
It’s best to use your smartphone because Instagram was developed for the mobile web and it’s best to be on your phone to add your profile image and images that your post.
As with other social media sites, do not use your book cover or image of your favorite pet as your avatar. Use the best picture of yourself that you have.
Every time you add a new network to your marketing arsenal, represent your brand as best you can. What is your brand? You.
Some writers become irritated at the mention of the term author brand but denying that it exists doesn’t deny its importance. Everything you do and say online reflects upon you so every step you take online, every post, every image you upload, needs to support your author career in as positive a manner as possible.
When you select your username, use your name. If you use a pen name for your books, use that. Basically, use the name that appears on the covers of your books.
Complete your bio, which Instagram restricts to 150 characters, and add your author website address. Don’t forget to check the box next to Similar Account Suggestions so that Instagram will suggest additional users for you to follow.
Instagram Is a Mobile App
You’ll be limited in what you can do from your desktop computer. You can create your account and stream your news feed and like images and leave comments. But at its essence, Instagram is a mobile app.
As you’re out and about, visiting your favorite café, buying books, or cruising you’re your favorite downtown area or woodsy path, snap images with your smartphone. Then, upload the pictures directly to Instagram. Select a filter for your image if the image appears too dark or too bright, and post it.
Now this next step is what makes Instagram simple to use. As you post your image to Instagram, you can also post it to other accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. While I don’t recommend syncing Twitter to Facebook or even Instagram to Twitter, linking Instagram to Facebook is seamless. The comment and hashtags you write for your Instagram post will integrate smoothly with your Facebook profile. This is how to connect your accounts:
- Navigate to your Instagram profile on your smartphone.
- Tap the three dogs in the upper right-hand corner of your profile.
- Click Linked Accounts and select the social media networks you want to sync.
If you want a business account, which will provide you with analytics, follow these instructions:
- Go to your profile.
- Click the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of your profile.
- Click Switch to Business Profile.
Once you have a business profile, you’ll connect your Instagram business profile to your Facebook author page. You’ll also get analytics for your Instagram account. You’ll be able to track demographic information of your followers, locations, and the hours and days your followers are on Instagram.
How Authors Can Use Instagram
Authors have taken to Instagram, expanding their brand, and letting readers learn more about them than what they write or blog about. Check out these examples:
Tyler Knott Gregson
You’ll find Tyler on Instagram where he’s known as Tyler Knott, an #Instapoet on this app. He’s a successful poet who rose to fame by using Instagram. He creates quote images and posts them mostly on Twitter and Instagram.
Here’s one of his poems displayed as an image:
Author Kate Kisset posted this notice of a giveaway contest was hosting.
Boomsbury Publishing posted this picture of someone reading one of its authors.
A nonfiction and dark thriller author who writes her thrillers under the name J.F. Penn, Joanna recently shared this picture of an eerie setting in the woods.
While attending attending an Indie author event at a library, Crissi took an image of a display of her books.
Author Molly Fisk shares a picture of her specialty cup of coffee as she’s about to tackle the Sunday crossword puzzle.
Author Fluer Hols created this beautiful quote.
There’s nothing wrong with boasting about your Amazon sales!
Share the cover of a new book about to be released, images from your hometown, or of the desk where you write. If you have a favorite café where you like to write, take a picture of the sign or the front of the building. If you love dogs, take a picture of your dog doing something fun. When you have a reading, ask someone to snap a picture of you, preferably not when you’re standing behind a podium but during a moment when you’re animated, laughing, or engaging with an attendee. Most of all, test this app and have fun with it.
When to Post on Instagram
The easiest time to post is right after you take a picture or create a quote.
According to Latergramme, a scheduling post for Instagram, the best time to post is between 2 am and 5 pm EST, with 5 pm being the most opportune time. The best day to post is on Wednesdays, but if you start using Instagram, you’ll need to be consistent and post more frequently than once a week. Once a day is usually sufficient.
When you start out, post images when it’s convenient for you. As you gain followers, you’ll figure out when the most engagement occurs and tailor your timing.
Scheduling Apps for Instagram
Once you start using Instagram regularly, you might want the option to schedule images in advance.
With this app, you can upload images and videos from your computer, not just your smartphone. Onlypult also provides analytics. Plans start at $10.50/month.
This tool enables you to upload images from your computer, iPhone, Tablet, or Android, plan and schedule your posts, upload videos and manage multiple accounts if you have more than one. You can start with a free account. If you have a business profile on Instagram, you can schedule your images.
With this tool, you can organize campaigns or schedule images one-by-one, manage multiple accounts, create content, and add bulk uploads at once. For a single Instagram account, the cost is $20/month.
Instagram Best Practices
Here are a few best practices to get you started.
- Use hashtags here just as you would on Twitter. Although hashtags haven’t taken off on Facebook, you can use them as well on that platform.
- Don’t be afraid to reveal a bit about your personal life. Take images from a hike, a cycling excursion, or even of your background. Revealing something about yourself will help readers connect to you.
- Always be authentic.
- Don’t be promotional, unless you’d like to inform users of a contest.
- Build your community of readers and colleagues by liking their posts and commenting on them. Be as engaged with them as you’d like them to be with you.
How do you use Instagram?
Want to know all of my best social media marketing tips? Get a copy of Social Media Just for Writers.
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Author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She wrote several social media books including Social Media Just for Writers and The Author’s Guide to Goodreads. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, and finding new readers. Her clients have included authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for her free email course.
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