Everything Authors Want to Know About Instagram

Everything Authors Want to Know About Instagram

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

Profile Image

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.

Username

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.

Bio

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:

  1. Navigate to your Instagram profile on your smartphone.
  2. Tap the three dogs in the upper right-hand corner of your profile.
  3. 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:

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Click the three dots in the upper right-hand corner of your profile.
  3. Click Switch to Business Profile.

Instagram Business Profile Conversion

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:

Instagram Tyler Knott

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What Pew Research Center Social Media Stats Mean for Authors

What Pew Research Center Social Media Stats Mean for Authors

The Pew Research Center (PRC) released a new study on social media use at the beginning of March. Its findings weren’t surprising.

PRC researchers found that Facebook and YouTube dominate the social media landscape.

It’s no surprise that Facebook “remains the primary platform for most Americans.” An estimated 68 percent of U.S. adults report they are Facebook users and three-quarters of them access Facebook on a daily basis. PRC stated:

With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.

YouTube is even more popular, as I mentioned in a previous blog post. PRC states:

The video-sharing site YouTube – which contains many social elements, even if it is not a traditional social media platform – is now used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds.

Are you trying to reach the Young and New Adult demographic? Here is what the Pew Research Center says about them:

Americans ages 18 to 24 are substantially more likely to use platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter even when compared with those in their mid- to late-20s. These differences are especially notable when it comes to Snapchat: 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds are Snapchat users, but that share falls to 54% among those ages 25 to 29.

The report also noted that Pinterest remains more popular with women (41 percent) than with men (16 percent).

LinkedIn continues to be popular with college graduates and individuals in high-income households. Nothing has really changed there.

What also became evident in this study is that people use multiple social media sites, not just one.

This overlap is broadly indicative of the fact that many Americans use multiple social platforms. Roughly three-quarters of the public (73%) uses more than one of the eight platforms measured in this survey, and the typical (median) American uses three of these sites. As might be expected, younger adults tend to use a greater variety of social media platforms. The median 18- to 29-year-old uses four of these platforms, but that figure drops to three among 30- to 49-year-olds, to two among 50- to 64-year-olds and to one among those 65 and older.

Facebook May Be Popular But Is It Right for Authors? Maybe Not

FacebookAre you now itching to redouble your efforts on Facebook? Not so fast. While 68 percent of U.S. users are on Facebook, it’s extremely challenging to reach them. Facebook’s latest tweak to its algorithm has made it virtually impossible for your Facebook fans (readers) to see your posts unless you invest in Facebook advertising. Facebook is basically a pay to play system for authors and anyone with a business page.

There’s a lot of buzz about Facebook groups, and more and more people are starting groups either in addition to having pages or instead of pages. Take Sharon Hamilton as an example.

I interviewed Sharon recently and she’s doing a lot to promote her books. She’s a prolific author in a popular genre and is a New York Times and USA Today, bestselling writer. As of this writing, she has 18,332 Likes and 17,878 followers on her Facebook page. But if you look at her Facebook page, you’ll see that there’s little engagement.

I’ve been following Sharon for quite some time, so I know that she used to have tremendous engagement on her Facebook page. What’s changed? Facebook has. Sharon keeps sharing great information and memes, but Facebook has tweaked its algorithm, making it harder for Sharon’s posts to appear in her fans’ news feeds.

That is unless she buys advertising.

If you look at your news feed these days, you’ll find that you see fewer posts from businesses and authors, fewer ads, and a lot more posts from friends and family. That’s because of Facebook’s algorithm and Mark Zuckerberg’s belief that Facebook users come to Facebook wanting to interact with friends and family and that you and I don’t want to see posts from business pages, such as author pages. In fact, even though I’ve liked many author pages, I never see them in my news feed.

Sharon was smart and started a Facebook group, which is doing well. She also has a street team.

But where does that leave you? One option is read a post I wrote about how to grow your Facebook page. Note that I wrote this post before Facebook’s latest change to its algorithm.

Facebook may seem to be the best place for authors to be but it isn’t. Well, it isn’t unless you’re willing to spend money on advertising.

If you have an extensive email list, start a Facebook group and encourage people to interact with you there, as well. Also, send tweets and Instagram messages with information about your Facebook group. Sharon Hamilton has a link on her website that automatically directs people to her Facebook group, called Rockin’ Romance Readers.

If you want information on how to start and run a group, there’s a blog post on Jane Friedman’s blog with some best practices for Facebook groups.

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Feeling Introverted? No Problem. Read These 10 Tips

Feeling Introverted? No Problem.

I’ve been introverted all my life, although friends who know me well don’t believe it. But it’s true. I don’t like going to parties where I don’t recognize people, although once I’m there, I do tend to have fun.

But the thought of being in a room of people I don’t know can, at times, inhibit me from going out. Even being in a room of people where I’ll know a few people can be intimidating.

Do you ever feel the same way?

If you’re a writer, you probably understand how I feel since most writers tend to be introverts. How else can we bear to spend hours by ourselves writing? We enjoy our own company, or at least the company of our fictional characters.

Many years ago I held a job that forced me to become less introverted. As the development director of a large nonprofit, I had to talk with all the donors and their guests for an evening of fundraising. After a few sips of champagne, I was usually able to step into a crowd of people and greet them and make sure they enjoyed their evening.

Even though I appeared outgoing for the night, the next day I would stay at home and read a book. Introverts get energized by being alone whereas extroverts get energized by being with people.

But I digress.

As a child, my introverted nature served me well.

  1. I always won spelling bees (because I read a lot).
  2. My writing (and reading) skills surpassed those of my sister, who was three years older.
  3. I excelled at school.

But as I grew up, being introverted made life more difficult for me.

  1. I had difficulty making new friends.
  2. In college, I would rather read and study than face a room filled with people I didn’t know at a party.

There have been other benefits and disadvantages to being introverted as well but, I share these to make a point: Being introverted may cause you to feel uncomfortable at times but, it’s also an asset. How else would you finish your books?

As a writer, you need to break out of your introverted nature enough so that you can market the books you spend so much time in solitude writing and perfecting.

In my case, I stuttered as a child, which probably pushed me further up the introverted spectrum. But by the time I reached high school and entered the workforce, my stuttering was behind me.

My career as a journalist forced me to talk with new people all the time, and that in turn made social situations more comfortable. By the time I published my first book, I wasn’t an extrovert, but I was more comfortable pretending to be an extrovert when needed.

This is exactly what you need to do. When appropriate, such as at book readings and signings and when appearing as a guest at book club gatherings, relax and don’t worry about what you’ll say. Let your words flow as you pretend that your closest friends surround you.

There have been studies that indicate that social media is good for introverts because it enables people who love to stay at home get out into the world – even if it’s a virtual experience – and meet and interact with new people every day.

There is a caveat to this. Pretending to be an extrovert should not be interpreted as an excuse for constantly promoting your books on social media. Instead, it’s an invitation to form relationships with writers and readers worldwide and support each other in promoting what you write.

11 Exercises for Introverted Writers

These exercises are for writers working on their marketing platform.

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Indie Author Weekly Update October 6, 2017

Indie Author Weekly Update

This week’s Indie Author Update contains every topic from Pinterest hashtags to selling books when you don’t have an audience. How? Keep reading to find out!

Go Local: Marketing Books to Targeted Communities by Jane Friedman: “When I hear professional publicists and PR people offer advice to authors, one theme that comes up again and again is: start where you are. Use the power of your community—and the people you know—to gain momentum.”

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Indie Author Weekly Update – September 29, 2017

Indie Author Weekly Update

This week’s Indie Author Update includes posts from Adam Connell, Joanna Penn,  Ali Luke, Buffer, and Writers in the Storm. I hope you enjoy the selections.

Well, we are firmly into fall, my favorite season. How does your writing change with the seasons? I’d love to know!


Indie Author Updates

How To Launch Your Own Facebook Group And Get Loyal Fans  from Adam Connell: “Facebook groups are powerful. They’re a perfect place to start real conversations about things that matter to you. And because your audience members are already on Facebook (Facebook addiction is a real thing, people), they are far more likely to engage with you and your brand in Facebook groups than they are on your blog. With Facebook Live, you can now do live training right inside of your group.”

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Have You Seen These Social Media Changes? Part II

social media changesLast week I wrote about several social media changes, namely to Facebook and Twitter. Today I continue the discussion.

Let’s start the discussion with Twitter Moments.

Changes to Twitter 

Initially a feature for news organizations, Twitter Moments are now available for everyone to use.

This is how to get started:

Go to your Moments tab, located between Home and Notifications on the taskbar. (Look for the lightning symbol.) Give your Moment a title by clicking Title your Moment. Then add a description, and upload an image to set the cover. Then, select some tweets you’ve sent, liked, or retweeted. Once you’ve completed your moment, click Publish in the top left-hand corner. (Note: Be sure to crop your photos right on Twitter for mobile navigation.)

Twitter

I created a simple moment that includes a tweet about book patches, the Hay Festival in Segovia, Spain, news about the Pulitzer Prize winning The Underground Railroad (read it and loved it!), and two more tweets.

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Indie Author Weekly Update – April 21, 2017

Indie Author News

This week’s Indie Author Weekly Update focuses on social media news including what’s new with Instagram and how best to use Pinterest.


Indie Author Updates

Instagram Just Revamped Instagram Direct, Which Now Has 375 Million Monthly Users from AdWeek: “Instagram revamped its Instagram Direct messaging feature—which now includes disappearing photos and videos, along with texts and reshares—and the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network announced that Instagram Direct now has 375 million monthly active users, up from 300 million last November.”

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10 Quick Tips About Social Media

10 Quick Tips About Social MediaIf you’re just starting out on social media, it may seem overwhelming. Even if you’ve been using it for a while, the prospect of staying up to date on numerous social media platforms may seem like a full-time job.

Don’t get disheartened.

There definitely are learning curves to social media. That’s a given. But social media needn’t be overwhelming.

Take it from someone who works in social media every day.

As the joke goes, How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Take the same approach to the social media networks you want to learn and keep up with.

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Authors- Want to Reach Millennials & YA Readers? Check out These Facts Plus 10 Tips

Authors- Want to Reach Millennials? Check out These Facts Plus 10 Tips by FrancesAre you using Instagram?

I usually advise writers that if they’re trying to reach Millennials or the young adult market, Instagram is a must because that’s where these demographics primarily hang out.

Now I have information that furthers my belief in my opinion.

The website Red published an infographic last year. (Yes, I know, it’s not up-to-date data, yet it’s still mind-blowing. Besides, data is often a year old when it’s reported.)

Okay, here we go:

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Have you seen these? Guest Posts from TheBookDesigner.com

There’s no place I’d rather be than the beach, especially the beaches on the Monterey Peninsula where I was born and raised. While I’m away, please visit these posts I’ve written for Joel Friedlander’s blog at TheBookDesigner.com. I’ve been writing for Joel’s blog since November 2013. (Wow! Time does fly.) Below you’ll find pots that date back to December 2014.


Reader Audiences and Analytics: What Do They Really Reveal?

When I ask authors whether they know who their audience is, I’m surprised when some of them reply, “everyone should read my book” or “everyone will like my book.” Well, not exactly. If you write grammar manuals or cookbooks, you may be under the false impression that everyone needs your book. But everyone won’t buy it or even think that a grammar reference, dystopian novel, or low-fat cookbook would be worth its purchase price.

Do You Write for Young Adults or Millenials? Then Try Snapchat

Social media aficionados like to jump on the newest, shiniest objects on the internet and today there are few sites attracting more buzz than Snapchat. The Verge reported in April 2016 that Snapchat has 100 million daily users who spend on average 25 to 30 minutes using the app. An estimated 60% of them use the app to create images and videos. Major brands that market to young adults and millennials are using this app to promote their wares. Buzzfeed, MTV, and Tastemade offer stories on Snapchat—and so do CNN and The Wall Street Journal.

How Young Adult Authors Can Use Tumblr to Reach Their Readers

Have you thought about using Tumblr lately? I may know what you’re thinking right now. These days when everyone is talking about Facebook Live, Snapchat, and Instagram, why would I even mention Tumblr? Isn’t Tumblr sort of, well, passé? Au contraire.

Instagram Primer for Indie Authors

There are conflicting reports as to what social media network is the fastest growing. The data seems to change from month to month, or at least, it did in 2015. That year, Adweek, TechCrunch, and Global Web Index each reported different statistics. It was also in 2015 that Pew Research Center reported that Instagram was the fourth most used social media network, behind Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

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