April 27th, 2016

Why Instagram Works for Writers

Sierra Godfrey Fong

Jump in! The Instagram Water Is Fine!

Jump in! The Instagram Water Is Fine!

Most writers I know make sounds resembling a dying wildebeest when you mention yet another social media outlet to grapple with.

And usually that’s Instagram.

We get Facebook (because we have to), and we get Twitter (you get Twitter, right? If not, you’re missing out on wonderful things like #MSWL and #pitchmad!). We get Pinterest because you can just be passive and pin all the pretty.

But Instagram isn’t so clear in terms of use and marketing for authors.

Is it really necessary?

And yet, Instagram is one of the most fun tools out there. It really is! Bear with me and let me show you.

The basic mechanics of Instagram

First, understand that Instagram doesn’t want to be anything but mobile, so if you’re hoping to use it on your desktop, you won’t (well, unless you use a tool like Bluestacks, which I recommended in my last post on Social media tips for keeping your sanity).

For a long time, I didn’t care because—what? Was I going to take photos of my feet or my breakfast? Who cared? Turns out, there are tons of times you might want to take a photo and upload:

  • When you put together your TBD pile
  • When you get your ARCs in the mail if you’re pubbed
  • When you and your cat are enjoying a nice cup of tea (I’m guilty)

Think of Instagram as snapshots of your life. Behind the scenes snapshots. And people LOVE seeing the person behind the words. And therefore, Instagram is a terrific tool.

Just like Twitter is a quick little foray from your head, Instagram is a visual snapshot of your head.

Tags work just like Twitter

Yes, and there are tons of authors waiting to see your photos. There really are! You can find your tribe just as easily on Instagram as on Facebook or Twitter. Try these:

#amwriting #editing #authorsofinstagram #authorlife #authors #writers #writersofinstagram #books

Frequency matters

The ideal posting frequency is 1.5 times a day. Instagram recently changed their algorithm to resemble Facebook’s in that the more you post, the more you’ll be seen.

Followers are as sneaky as on Twitter

You’ll get the usual people following you so you’ll follow back, just like on Twitter—yawn! And you’ll hear people tell you that the way to get more followers on Instagram is to follow loads of people you don’t know and see what happens. Um….or, just be yourself? And followers will come because you’re awesome?

There are plenty of marketing opportunities

There’s so much fun to be had for writers and authors on Instagram. There are:

  • List challenges, like the current #ListifyLife challenge that me and author Roni Loren came up with. It’s just all about writing lists – one topic per week. Search for it and see!
  • Instagram take-overs. This is a really fun idea where a friend or fellow author takes over your account for a set period of time, like a day or a week. They post and their followers get exposure to you, and vice versa. It’s a fun way to inject something different into your posts.
  • If your reader audience is in the 15-25 years-old age, Instagram is the way they are connecting now. But DON’T be promotional. Be authentic.

Joining Instagram is easy

It may seem slow at first...but you'll get there!

It may seem slow at first…but you’ll get there!

It’s best to use a mobile device, because Instagram was designed for mobile use. Go to Instagram.com. When filling out your profile, use your real picture–a really good one of the real you. You are going to use Instagram to build your brand. Build your brand around your author name. You want to sell you, why you write. Be positive. Follow people and leave comments.

Like Twitter, Instagram uses hashtags and limits your characters. You’ve got 150 to say what you need to go with your pictures. The easiest time to post is right after you take a picture you want to share.

The best time to post on Instagram is quitting time, 5:00 p.m. The optimum number of posts per day is 1.5. So that means a single post one day, two the next, and alternate on that schedule.

You can be as creative as you want. You can be as engaged as you want. It’s another way to connect with your potential readers. And it can be fun. Really!

Are you on Instagram already? What challenges, successes, or just fun times have you had on Instagram? What’s your best shared picture?

(Note from Fae: Sierra is collecting cool pictures in places with little-to-no connectedness. Never fear, our Writers in the Storm group will respond to your comments. And Sierra will be here when she can throughout the week, so check back for her responses.)

About Sierra

Sierra GodfreySierra Godfrey writes fiction with international settings and always a mention of football (soccer) or two. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and a quarterly contributor to Writers in the Storm. She writes weekly about Spanish football for various sports sites, and is also a freelance graphic designer. She lives in the foggy wastelands of the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.

Come visit her at www.sierragodfrey.com or talk with her on Twitter @sierragodfrey.

40 comments to Why Instagram Works for Writers

Leave a Reply