Our thanks to author Laura McNeill for this guest post. We met Laura at the recent Publish15 event in Georgia, where we taught a class together on Curating Digital Communities – and loved Laura’s take on the “photo-centric” sites… Enjoy!
It’s clear that Instagram’s creators hit a home run with their simple, but now uber-popular social media app. Instagram won a loyal following by giving people the ability to take ordinary photos and make them look extraordinary.
Despite the ease and staggering traffic (300 million visitors a month) many authors aren’t convinced they should bother with Instagram. As purveyors of words, not pictures, does it really make good sense for an author to spend time there?
Definitely, yes. Here are 5 reasons why.
1) Connect with a broader audience
While Facebook and Twitter still top the list of the world’s most popular social media outlets,* Instagram exposes your work to new readers, particularly a younger demographic. Instagram is most popular with women, ages 18-29. Instagram is a great way to not only broaden and extend your fan base, but by following the steps below, allows you to garner more attention online.
Remember, on Instagram, like Twitter, you can connect with people around the world who have similar interests or hobbies by a quick search of photo tags (A recent search using #romancenovel brought up 8,855 posts, #crimenovel, #2,135).
You’re an author! Most people find that intrinsically interesting, but when you post photos of the desk where you write, share a look at a hand-written outline of your latest work in progress, or post a picture of an object that triggered the idea for your latest novel, people pay attention.
Be sure to mix it up with a few photos of your latest read, your favorite coffee shop, and a much-loved pet. Be funny, be sweet, and post unusual photos of what inspires you and why. People love having an insider’s view, and that look into your life makes you ‘real’ as a person – just like everyone else. When more people begin to like your posts, and get to know the guy or gal behind the writing, it’s more likely they’ll pay attention when they see your professional work.
3) Get to know bloggers and other authors
Pay attention to what book bloggers are posting on Instagram. Do they enjoy the same genre you write in? Do their hobbies match yours? Take time to check out their profiles, like their posts, and comment when it’s appropriate. Be polite and friendly, and those bloggers may decide to review your book next!
Getting to know other authors can also be enjoyable and rewarding. Don’t be afraid to pay it forward, that is, share photos of the books you read in your spare time. Explain why a novel resonated with you and tag the author in your post. Networking and sharing with other authors, as well as supporting a friend’s new book release, can pay dividends down the road. It’s all about creating good karma.
4) Create some buzz
As a nation (and a world), we love visual imagery, especially photos and pictures that evoke emotions (first love), memories (90s bands?), or common ideas that you share with others (a button that says “I read banned books,” or “With enough coffee I could rule the world,” etc.).
When you post a photo that’s exceptionally lovely, arresting, or unusual, it attracts attention and can gain you new followers. Those people can leave a comment, share a thought, or ask you a question. I urge you to jump in the conversation with them and connect.
5) Promote and Market
Have a new book coming out? Show the world your gorgeous new book cover. Yes, despite what everyone might believe, readers do judge a book by its cover! Share the story behind the cover, or give a shout out to the artist. I don’t know about you, but if I run across a new book cover that I love, I always try to check out the author and the story blurb.
You can also take a photo of the first few lines of the book, offering up a chance for everyone to see your writing. Consider holding a giveaway, with your book as the prize. Ask people, politely, to share a photo of your book if they’ve reviewed it, using a unique #hashtag so that you can track anyone else who decides to like and share your work.
So, if you are looking to grow your fan base in a fun and easy way and reach new audiences on social media, Instagram is definitely worth the time and effort.
Today, look at the stack of books by your bedside from a new angle, capture the way the light fades over a nearby building, and grab a photo of your beloved cat curled up on your doorstep…and get busy posting, connecting, and sharing!
Award-winning journalist Laura McNeill’s accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter. Laura was recently awarded a 2-book deal with Thomas Nelson Publishing, a division of HarperCollins. Her novel, Center of Gravity, set in Mobile, AL., releases this month. Visit Laura’s own Instagram page at instagram.com/dixiegirlwriter/