When starting a social media it can be hard to grasp the language, trends, or even the etiquette of a platform.
Guides on the subject can be complicated when all you really want is to begin with the easy stuff.
So here you go; the basic tricks that make IG tick (I call it IG now because I’m hooked).
What is a hashtag? I don’t know. But use them. In some magical way that I can only attribute to the genius of Albus Dumbledore, they seem to put your picture under a phrase. When users search that hashtag, they can see your picture (as well as any others with the same hashtag)
By using them, your picture will be seen by people who don’t already follow you.
You can look up popular hashtags at Hashtagify, or do what I do and stalk the popular pages in your field and copy theirs. #cheating
InstaTip: Writing the same hashtags over and over again gets old. Fast. Copy and paste your most used hashtags onto a memo, and then it is easy to quickly paste them when you’re posting your awesome pictures!
Try not to use filters, use the other doodackies.
I didn’t believe this one at first. The filters make images look so amazing. But using the other doodackies is better—who would’ve thought. I’ve been using them for the last few weeks and have noticed a reasonable increase in likes and follows.
Doodackies: When editing your pictures there is a spanner on the edit bar, click on the spanner and make your picture look good that way. I have no idea what the ‘correct’ use of these settings is, I just push buttons until it looks pretty to me.
It seems to be working.
I hope it works for you, too.
For the first couple of months, I posted one picture daily. Anyway, I went a little clicking mad one day and posted three pictures. Turns out this earns you many more likes and follows. I know what you’re thinking, “Yes, you would get three times the amount”. But you would be WRONG! I don’t know why (Dumbledore again), but posting in bulk does magical things.
So yes, I post three pictures every second day, just doing it on the day itself. However, for some this could be interruptive. Hootsuitesaves the day. You can use this app for various social media. To my knowledge, Instagram does not let you schedule entirely in advance. You can set up the post on Hootsuite, who will then alert you at the scheduled time and get you to confirm with a click. Apparently, the bosses of IG don’t like scheduling.
It might be an option for you organized folk.
Take Good Pictures
‘Pictures’ being the keyword. You can have the occasional wordy advertisement, but try and make IG mainly for pictures. The wordy posts get less likes. People are on IG to look at images. Give them images. You can take photos of your books, photos of your office, motivation, inspiration, food (Grrr), or whatever. Make the pictures personal, and make the pictures good.
Think of it as a different form of advertising!
Have 30-40 pictures before you start gathering followers. You can add one link in your bio on your profile, too.
Add all of your friends—if you like—and go follow mad—if you wish.
You would think that trying to post a picture every day could get hard. 365 pictures a year! Let alone posting three pictures a day. But it really isn’t. Think of a few things you enjoy. For me it is caffeine, books (obvs), flowers, travelling, my writer rabbit…the list goes on. You can see how you’d have plenty to go off.
Authors will also have promo graphics, cover reveals, small quotes from your work, pictures of your paperbacks, etc. If you’re struggling to get enough pictures (you seriously won’t), then you can repost other’s pictures. However, if you do this, use #repost and @mention the page too (@mention = tagging the person you nabbed it off).
InstaTip: Stick to the 80/20 rule; 80 percent other interesting content, 20 percent promotion.
Making it pretty
This isn’t as important for Author profiles, in my opinion. For artists, photographers, store owners, a little more effort is put into the actual appearance of your page. For Authors, your followers want to get to know you. We can get away with being a little lazy about appearance.
I am trying something new on my IG to give it the feel of structure. Take a look. And that is the bare-minimum. If you want to create a pretty page then do some research before setting up your profile. There are some amazing pages.
Some people have themes to their profiles. For example, an author who writes superhero teen fiction takes pictures of superhero toys doing fighting moves. Or another author with dragons in her series takes pictures of a dragon toy in all sorts of places.
With others, it’s as simple as a closed paperback in a patch of grass.
Mine is fairly hectic, just pictures of whatever I like the look off. But then that is my personality…so it’s okay?
Like any social media you want to have less ‘following’ than ‘followers’. If this is your business account, don’t like a whole bunch of personal stuff, unless you don’t mind people being able to see what you’re following and liking. I only use my profile for networking and as an interface for reader interaction – if you’re an author, then bloggers, reviewers, book stores, other authors, and so on.
You can follow a bunch of profiles to try and get followers. You can use Unfollowspy to unfollow those who don’t follow back. I know if you do it this way, you’re supposed to actually go to their profiles and be interactive, not just endlessly click ‘follow’
I like to grow my social media organically for the most part, as I find this gives me a more loyal and interactive audience long term. I follow my author friends, bloggers, and reviewers, and leave the rest to my pictures.
The exception to the above rule is when I do giveaways. I would check out popular book pages to see how they form their giveaways for an idea. Most book bloggers do them frequently.
I usually put the same giveaway on Facebook and Instagram. That way, I find people from each will also follow me on the other media. A like, follow, and two tags is a good place to start for entry into your giveaway.
Make your giveaway picture stand out (remember you’re on Instagram). There are a group of people who LOVE giveaways on every social media, and they keep a sharp lookout. Hashtag appropriately and your giveaway won’t be missed.
It is not hard to interact on IG. In fact, IG is such an awesome platform. Users are positive, comment readily, and ‘like’ readily. I love flicking through the other pictures – to get travel envy, tea mug envy, and ideas for my own pictures.
Engaging your following
If you’ve nailed the picture, it is also worth thinking about your post. Like most social media, asking a question is a good idea. Use of stickers is a good way to draw the follower’s attention to what you’ve written.
You don’t have much space to grab the reader’s attention. Keep the first line punchy.
Unfortunately, links don’t work in the posts. Which sucks a little bit. You have two options as I see it (from my beginning eyes).
One, shorten your link on bitly.com and then put it in the post anyway. The person can copy it over if they really want to.
Two, if it is for a giveaway, or other important link, you can change the link in you bio and tell people to head there.
You can Direct Message 15 people per day, so if you wish to send news of, say, a giveaway, free book, or book release news, then you can utilize this. I haven’t used this myself as it seems spammy. But it is there.When people follow you, head to their page and like a couple of pictures to show them you care. I’ve found so many awesome pages this way. And, to be honest, I love a good stalk. Stalking is healthy, right?Test a few different posting times to see when you get the most post engagement. There’s probably an app for this and I have no idea what it is, ask Albus.People bleepin’ love sunsets, animals, and travel pictures.This one is more of a warning. As of recently, you can’t delete photos from IG. All this means is you can’t ‘trial’ things to see how they look—unless you made another account. Your posts=permanent.
If you gained something from this post, you can check out my other Dear Aspiring Authorblogs. They cover a range of subjects, from first drafts, to obtaining reviews, to thunderclaps.
Kelly St. Clare
When Kelly St Clare is not reading or writing, she is lost in her latest reverie. She can, quite literally, drift past a car accident while in the midst of her day dreams, despite the various police sirens and chaos.
Books have always been magical and mysterious to her. One day she decided to start unravelling this mystery and began writing. Her aim: To write stories she would want to read. As it turns out, this failed miserably. Do you know what it is like to read something you’ve written? Impossible. Not to mention, the ending is ruined before you’ve begun. Never-the-less, Kelly loves it and spends every free moment crafting new stories.
Fantasy of Frost, the first title in The Tainted Accords, is her debut novel. Two of the three sequels, Fantasy of Flight and Fantasy of Fire, are now available.
A New Zealander in origin and in heart, Kelly currently resides in Australia with her soon-to-be husband, a great group of friends, and some huntsman spiders who love to come inside when it rains. Their love is not returned.
If you would like to check out her books, you can do so here.