Over the past few years, Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms. The visual-first setup is easy to use, highly engaging, and still growing. As an author, Instagram offers unique opportunities to interact with your fans and boost the size of your audience. In this article, we’ll look at how you can use Instagram to reach your writing goals.
In this article, you will learn:
- The benefits of using Instagram as an author
- How to set up your own author Instagram page
- What you should post on Instagram to grow and reach your followers
Why is Instagram good for authors?
For starters, Instagram has a hyper-engaged audience. The latest Instagram report shows there are over one billion Instagram users every month, with 60% logging in daily. These numbers mean the platform is now the fastest growing social media website. So, having an Instagram page along with a Facebook author page can be super beneficial for finding and connecting with readers.
You also get better visibility on Instagram compared to Facebook and Twitter. More than that, the rate of engagement with Instagram is better than all the others combined. This offers great potential for authors to reach new readers and develop stronger engagement with their existing fans.
Author Belinda Pollard used Instagram to grow her platform to great success. In her first six months, she met journalists who accepted book copies, found bookstore owners who agreed to stock copies of her book and connected directly with people who ended up purchasing her book. Not too shabby for six months’ work!
Here are some ways you can benefit from an Instagram account:
You can attract new readers.
The biggest benefit of using Instagram for authors is that it offers greater opportunities to grow your following. Because Instagram's users are so active, if you consistently post quality content (more about that later), people are more likely to read it and engage with you than on other social media sites.
Here are a few strategies you can use to grow your following:
- Follow bloggers who review books: If you do, it will increase the chances of your book getting reviewed.
- Connect with people who follow authors in your genre: Rather than connecting with other authors, look at their list of followers to find engaged readers.
- Use relevant hashtags: Make sure you’re using the right hashtags so readers can find your work (more on this later).
You can connect with your existing audience.
Not only do you connect with new readers, but Instagram also makes it easier to get more familiar with your existing audience. The more your followers see you behind the scenes, the more they’ll see you as an authority in your field. Along with that, they’ll see you as a person, rather than just an author. Many writers use Instagram to give their audience a peek behind the curtains.
You can get more free attention compared to other platforms.
Instagram is newer compared to other social media such as Facebook and Twitter, which many would argue have reached their saturation point.
Facebook is full of ads and other messages these days, making it almost impossible to get good exposure on posts from your page.
Though there are ads and other messages on Instagram, it has not reached the saturation point–especially for authors. While Instagram is growing for authors, you can still get in somewhat early, which is a huge advantage.
You can keep people updated on new releases.
Some authors use Instagram to keep their fans and followers updated. In fact, you can keep your readers up-to-date on your entire writing process, from jotting down ideas all the way to publication. This way your book will be more top-of-mind when it becomes available for purchase — that's a good thing.
Instagram or Facebook? Do I need both?
Let’s face it. You didn’t become an author so you could spend hours on social media liking pages and commenting on posts. When it comes to social media, it can feel like you’re on a treadmill–always moving, but never getting anywhere.
So, do you need both Instagram and Facebook pages? Or can you just use one?
Personally, I think you do need a Facebook page. Even if you don’t use it much, you’ll want a Facebook page to run ads. Where Facebook pages tend to struggle is engagement. In the old days of Facebook, you could post to your page, and it would be seen by most of your followers. Now, only a tiny percentage of your audience actually sees your posts.
Instagram for authors comes in handy for connection. You’ll have direct access to your followers and they’ll be able to see more of your posts. Instagram also seems like a more personal platform as opposed to a Facebook page.
All that said, many readers are on one platform but not the other, so using both isn't a bad idea. You can recycle your content from one platform to the other to get more exposure without much more work.
How to set up an Instagram author page
When creating an Instagram page for your author business, you'll want to create a business page, instead of a personal account. Having a business account will give you access to ads, along with better reporting metrics for your author page. Creating an account with Instagram’s platform is easy.
1. Download the Instagram app
Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Instagram is a platform recommended for mobile devices. So, if you’ve never used Instagram before, you’ll want to download the app. This app is available on different devices such as smartphones and tablets. And you can find it in just about every app store available.
If you want to use Instagram on a desktop computer, visit the Instagram website.
2. Create an account
Once you have downloaded the app, launch it and create your Instagram account. There are two ways of creating the account:
- Sign up using your email address or you can use your phone number. Then provide the username you want to use on the account.
- Create it through your Facebook account. Login to your Facebook and then link your account. If you’ve used an author email to sign up for Facebook, this should be the option you choose.
If you have already created an account, you just need to sign in and then proceed to the profile page.
3. Connect to Facebook
When you first register with Instagram, you’ll automatically begin with a personal profile. However, if you want to use Instagram for your author business, connect your account to a Facebook business page.
To do that, complete the following:
- Click the profile icon at the bottom right of the screen to access your profile. You'll know you're on your profile when you see your posts and profile picture.
- From here, tap on the three parallel lines in the top right corner of the screen.
- Click the settings cog at the bottom left of the menu.
- Tap on ‘Account.'
- At the very bottom of the ‘Account' menu, tap on ‘Switch to Professional Account.'
- Click the prompt to connect to Facebook. Select “Choose a page,” and set the page to “public.” Click “OK.”
- Instagram will then ask for permission to manage your Facebook pages. Look through the list of Facebook business pages you’ve already created. Select the right page and click “Next.”
4. Complete the profile setup
To finish your profile, you must give an email, phone number, and address for your business. Fill in at least one of these contact fields to proceed. Don’t be surprised if the app auto-fills a part of this since it’s connected to your Facebook page.
Click “Done,” and go to your profile. A new graph icon should appear at the top of the Instagram app. This is your Insights page where you can find extra tracking and business metrics.
5. Create a new Instagram business page
Set a title for your page and choose the category that best describes your business. While there are over 1000 business categories you can choose from, you’ll most likely be selecting “author”.
6. Finish editing your profile
Go to your profile and click “Edit your profile.” Here you can add a photo, bio, and website link. Consider book Instagrammer Elizabeth Sagan’s profile for instance. In her Instagram profile, she includes a related Instagram page, an email for inquiries, and her most important link.
What you should post on Instagram
As mentioned earlier, what you post plays a huge part in how successful Instagram for authors can be. For maximum engagement, you’ll want to post quality content consistently. Here are a few ideas on what you can post on your Instagram page.
A peek into your life.
There are lots of great things you can post on Instagram that can grab a new reader's attention. If you post exclusive sneak peeks into your day, it will help you connect with your audience and be more relatable. While not all of your audience can relate to a book, they can relate to someone who enjoys time with their family and pets.
Share with your audience interesting things about your life — things that make you happy — and include some behind the scenes fun. Essentially, moments you’d want to share with friends.
Stephanie Danler offers her audience snapshots into her daily life, her writing process, and getting caught working on vacation (haven’t we all been there).
Quotes have been a staple of Instagram for years now. Inspiring quotes are easy to digest, very share-able, and have high engagement. Magazine and online course provider Foundr used mostly quotes to grow their Instagram page to over two-million subscribers.
You can even use quotes from your upcoming books. Melissa Frey, for example, has done this with her book the Prophecy of the Codex.
News about Upcoming books.
You can turn to Instagram to promote any upcoming books that are on the horizon. By posting the book’s cover — along with any other promo images — you can build anticipation for your new release.
3 Tips for Looking Like a Pro on Instagram
Give a theme to all of your posts.
Since Instagram is a visual platform, many accounts have an over-arching theme to their profiles. The theme can come from the posts, or even the colors used. Booknerdbecky is a book blogger with a great account that has an incredibly consistent look and feel to it.
Use Instagram stories.
Stories are videos and images that stay at the top of your Instagram profile for 24 hours. They’re an awesome way to show glimpses of your daily life and share funny little tidbits. Instagram stories also have high engagement rates, with popular accounts boasting over a 92% completion rate.
Plus, when you reach the 10,000 follower milestone, you gain access to Instagram’s “swipe up’” feature. After swiping, followers are then taken to a link of your choosing outside of Instagram. Use this to direct people to your author website or to your book's sales page.
Use the right hashtags.
We touched on hashtags earlier, but they deserve their own section. Using hashtags can boost your profile’s growth quickly.
If you’re unfamiliar with how hashtags work, they’re basically tags that makes your posts easier for readers to find. For example, if you tag your post with #bookwork, people all over the world who search for that tag can find your posts.
Some popular hashtags in the Instagram author space are:
For more on hashtags, check out our article on Hashtags for Writers!
Tools to use with Instagram
By now, you’ve probably noticed the power that Instagram can have on your business. But it can be a lot of work. Luckily, there are some tools that can help you with your Instagram page.
One thing I don’t like about Instagram is their sub-par link sharing. Unlike other platforms, you can’t add links to your posts. In fact, you can only have one link in your bio, which is where a lot of accounts steer their users to. Luckily there’s a tool called Linktree that allows you to store all your links on an easy to use dashboard. This way, when a user clicks your Instagram bio link, they’ll see various links and resources.
This is great when you want to give people the option of buying your book, reading your blog, or downloading a recent podcast interview, etc. Here’s an example of what that might look like.
A Scheduling App
There are plenty of apps that let you schedule Instagram posts. Back in the early Instagram days, you had to post manually. And for marketers, it was a nightmare.
Instagram for Authors: Final thoughts
When used correctly, your Instagram page can grow your author business by helping you connect with a multitude of highly engaged readers.
If you decide to go the Instagram route, try to be consistent. Remember, Instagram is a social network. The more social you are, the more you share and interact with readers, the more connections you'll form.