New to Instagram? Here’s How to Start Plus 9 Tips for Authors

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New to Instagram? Here's How to Start Plus 9 Tips for Authors

Are you new to Instagram? Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve used it for a year or longer, you’ll enjoy this five-part series. It will take you from novice to expert over the coming weeks.

Instagram is growing day by day. According to TechCrunch, as of nine months ago Instagram had 1 billion users worldwide.

TechCrunch noted,

While Snapchat’s daily user count grew just 2.13 percent in Q1 2018 to 191 million, and Facebook’s monthly count grew 3.14 percent to reach 2.196 billion, Instagram is growing closer to 5 percent per quarter.

According to the Pew Research Center’s March 1, 2018 report, Instagram is the sixth most used social media site, behind Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Messenger, and WeChat.

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.

Also, Instagram figures among three platforms that users visit every day.

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 relatively 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 an excellent 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. Those of you who write young adult, new adult, dystopian, and teen and young adult romance and science fiction novels, will need to spend time connecting with your readers on Instagram.

But, some agents are recommending that all authors, including nonfiction writers with an older readership, also use Instagram.

However, 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.

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

How to Sign Up

New to Instagram? Here are 9 tipsSign up by navigating to on your desktop computer or download the application on your smartphone and signup.

It’s best to use your smartphone because Instagram is a mobile app 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.


When you select your username, use your name. If you use a pen name for your books, use that. Bottom line: 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. Also, add a hashtag or two, such as #romanceauthor. Don’t forget to check the box next to Similar Account Suggestions to enable Instagram to 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. However, get used to using this application on your mobile phone.

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 with hashtags.

It’s best to use eleven hashtags; 30 are the most you can use.

Sync Instagram to Facebook

This next step is what makes Instagram simple to use. As you post your picture 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 integrate smoothly with your Facebook profile. This is how to connect your accounts:

  1. Navigate to your Instagram profile on your smartphone.
  2. Tap the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of your profile.
  3. Click Linked Accounts and select the social media networks you want to sync.

Get a Business Account

If you want a business account, which provides you with analytics, follow these instructions:

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Tap the three lines in the upper right-hand corner of your profile.
  3. Next, tap Settings.
  4. Finally, tap account, and then tap 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.

9 Ways Authors Can Use Instagram

New to Instagram? Here are 9 tips

If you still aren’t convinced that you should be using Instagram, consider these reasons:

  1. It is an excellent platform for following bloggers who review books. Many book bloggers use this platform and the more you connect with them, the more likely they’ll review your books.
  2. Use this platform for marketing. You can use this network as you would Facebook or Twitter. In other words, you can host contests and ask for photo submissions that revolve around the theme of your book.
  3. Instagram is another platform you can use to post quotes to provide visual inspiration. Who doesn’t like to read inspiring quotes?
  4. You can collaborate with readers who can also help you with research for your next book.
  5. By taking pictures of your office, a walk you take on the beach, a hike to take in the woods, you genuinely connect with your readers. Also, you are letting them get a more rounded look into your life.
  6. Use hashtags. Yes the popular hashtags from Twitter that are also used on Pinterest, Tumblr, and to a lesser extent on Facebook, are also used on Instagram. Now here is what Max Woolf said after analyzing 120,000 Instagram photos to figure out whether there was a correlation between hashtags and Likes. As Social Media Examiner explains, “He found that the more hashtags an Instagram photo has, the more likes it gets. Why? Because hashtags give photos a larger reach.”
  7. Use Instagram to connect and collaborate with your readers. Post images of your book cover as well as images of the covers you are considering using and ask your followers to help you select one. Also, post images of book covers from books you’ve read and share the book covers from your colleague’s books.
  8. Don’t create an account and then abandon it. Just like you don’t want to create a blog and then not write a post for months, once you create an account on this network, keep posting images several times a day.
  9. Use Instagram to give your readers a visual tour of your life. Snap pictures of your office where you write, or your favorite hiking area. Or take a picture of the outside of your favorite cafe or your dog. Take your readers on a visual and virtual tour of your life.

New to Instagram? Here's How to Start Plus 9 Tips for Authors

Want to know all of my best social media marketing tips? Get a copy of Social Media Just for Writers.

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Ryshia Kennie 

Frances CaballoAuthor of this blogFrances 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.

Online Book Marketing Strategies for Writers

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  1. Frances, great article, since I’m new to Instagram and couldn’t figure out why the hashtags.

    Also, Bluestacks is a free program you can download to your computer to access Instagram and upload your photos.

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