Social media has redefined how authors engage with readers, especially in 2020 when the pandemic hit and disrupted our daily lives. Publishing professionals and authors alike had to adapt to reach a global audience from the comfort of their homes. It is where an online social channel loved by over a billion people around the world comes in handy.
Instagram is one of the leading social apps where users share photos and videos. This audio-visual nature of communication between users has opened exciting opportunities for authors who want to grow their readership and book sales. Instagram was especially helpful to authors when in-person events such as book signings and book fairs were canceled in 2020. For example, a lot of independent and seasoned authors used the free, live streaming feature of Instagram to meet and greet readers who were habitually online.
Are you ready to connect with your target readers through Instagram in 2021? If it’s your first time using Instagram for book promotion, it’s important to understand its basic features before you can use each to your advantage. Here’s an overview to help you get started:
4 Main Features For Every Instagram User:
- Photo or video sharing. This is what Instagram is known for. When uploading content on Instagram, choose a picture or a video with the best quality resolution possible. If you plan to apply any specific filters or effects, be sure that your choices are consistent with your brand. For more help, you can visit this Help section on Instagram.
- Following and Followers. This is the basic way to connect with other users of the platform. Follow the people who inspire you, such as your favorite author, a friend, or anyone who interests you. However, don’t try to follow people in order to gain followers as it sends a signal that your account is spammy. Remember that you want to attract people who are genuinely interested in your story.
- Stories. Instagram was chiefly a photo-sharing social site before it was acquired by Facebook in 2012. In 2016, it introduced a popular feature known as Stories. Now, you can post short videos (up to 15 seconds) with links, questions, captions, GIFs, and more. This post lasts for 24 hours before it’s archived and hidden from other users.
- IGTV. This is Instagram’s new video sharing platform where you can post longer videos, similar to YouTube. It was launched in June 2018 and it continues to gain traction especially among users who prefer posting longer videos (such as films or broadcasts). This video can be as short as one minute or as long as 15 minutes (if you’re uploading from a mobile device) or 60 minutes if you’re uploading from the web. For more, visit IG’s Help page.
Using Instagram to build your author brand
Share your favorite quotes from the book.
- Create simple images with your favorite questions from any of the books you published. Or if you have one coming soon, upload high-quality photos or videos related to it and tell the viewers when the book will be available.
- If your book has artworks or images in it, share some of them. And don’t forget to include a quick note or story about the image. Everyone loves a good story so use it well to hook readers.
- If you’re up for it, share a selfie. Attending an event with other authors or having a zoom call with your beta readers? Take a quick selfie (or a screenshot of your online meet-up) and share it using the official hashtag of the event.
Interact with other people on the platform.
Instagram is a two-way street. You may gain followers just by showing up, but you will gain more by interacting with them. Answer comments on your posts, ask questions, or leave a comment on other people’s posts.
Launch an Author Reading.
IGTV can be used to post longer videos. Why not post a video of you reading from your book? Just be sure that the audio recording is good. Remember that audio quality is as important as video quality.
Do a Q&A on Instagram
Instagram Stories is a great way to ask and/or answer questions from your followers. Start the conversation by asking simple, straightforward questions that can be easily answered with a Yes or No. One thing to remember is that you need a good number of followers to use this function.
Here are some essential things that you have to keep in mind while using Instagram to promote your book.
Find the hashtag
Instagram communities revolve around hashtags. Find out what hashtags your potential audience is using and every time you post a photo or video for your audience, use these hashtags. Just be careful not to overdo it.
You might also want to read: Facebook Advertising for Authors: What You Need to Know
It takes time to build a following
Instagram is just one of the many social media tools you can use to grow your followers and readership. While it’s easy to post photos and videos on the platform, building a thriving relationship with readers and a significantly large following take time (like all good things).
Have you tried using Instagram to build relationships with your readers and successfully promote your book? What features of the app do you find most helpful? Let us know in the comments below. Or if you’re ready to get started, get in touch with us today.