Marketing your book requires branding. Putting aside that nearly 70% of brands are using Instagram as a marketing tool and that it boasts an impressive worldwide user count of 700 million, humans are 90% visual beings able to process images 60,000 times faster than text.
But we’re in the business of books and you’ve recently published a book that may be more than a little too word-heavy to be considered a “picture book”. So, how can an image-based app like Instagram be useful to you as an author?
Social media gurus would say, if you’re not active on social media, you don’t exist. Active social media doesn’t just mean hosting a website or having a Facebook account. Today, being active online means posting content often and engaging with other users on all major platforms – the big three being Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Let’s focus on how authors can best utilize a picture-driven platform like Instagram.
Instagram is fun! It offers the opportunity for you as an author to give readers and fellow writers an insight into who you are as an individual, your process, your life beyond the cover of a book and a brief description of yourself. While Instagram certainly can be an enjoyable app with many cool features, like the rules of writing, you’ve got to know them in order to break them.
There are 400 million active users on Instagram daily – how do you stand out?
For starters, your bio needs to include necessary information; name, location, title, website (if you have one), perhaps plug your book…but it should also speak to your target readers and draw the attention of your desired audience.
Instagram (commonly referred to as IG) can help you promote your writing by connecting you with your readers on a human level. Show your personality! The IG story function allows you to post photos and short videos that can be viewed by your followers for 24 hours. These story posts can be mundane but, remember, you are creating a brand for yourself, and your book, so, they should follow the overarching aesthetic/intent of your account and be directed towards your target audience.
Tellwell authors have been successful in their use of Instagram for differing reasons
Author Samantha Hardy’s Instagram account (@mr.fergussonhardy) follows the life and times of the protagonist of her book, Hardy’s cat Mr. Fergusson. This not only promotes the book but also adds dimension to her reader’s experience and conversely, creating an online following for Mr. Fergusson can inspire followers to purchase the book and await future books as well.
Mirian Sansalone (@mamasuperior) understands that social media requires engagement to serve its function, not only on the part of followers, but as a user herself. Posting frequently is the only way to stay relevant on an app that sees 95 million photos uploaded daily. In addition, using specific active hashtags in each post is how other users find your posts in the IG search bar. Spend some time searching IG to figure out which hashtags are most relevant to you, prioritize those that are used frequently while remaining as specific as possible. Remember, social media is about building community, not simply selling your book. Engaging with other users will help to build your following. Follow fellow authors, businesses, industry gurus, and engage with their content via likes and comments. Sansalone is constantly engaging with those in her target audience and community. The more you interact with others the more frequently your account will be suggested to others in similar networks.
Tellwell’s May ‘Author of the Month’, Angela Campagnoni (@angelacampagnoni), runs a very successful Instagram account with over 9000 followers. Her account is a perfect example of a mix of business and personal and how the two can promote each other. Her brand is very clear as both an author, mother, and wife. Posts Campagnoni makes about her children may draw in other Instagram users who are interested in content regarding parenthood. Once on her page, users are able to see her children’s books with click-through links to Amazon for purchasing.
Successful social media usage has to do with reciprocity. There are many accounts promoting “follow for a follow” but that takes the magic away from forming true connections. If you come across an account you like and follow them, they will receive a notification that you have done so, which may inspire them to view your account and if your content draws them in…voila! A connection is made. That is the organic nature of Instagram, it is so “connected”. Each post has various hashtags that, when clicked, lead to similar content, linked to accounts run by others in the industry, or in similar industries.
So, create an account, personalize it, and promote your book, your writing, your life. Allow for readers to follow you, build a community with fellow authors, book stores, and reviewers. And don’t forget to follow @tellwellpublishing!