Friday, March 20, 2015

A Look at Instagram for Writers

At first glance Instagram may not seem like the "ideal" medium for writers.

We deal with words, not pictures!

I hear you. I really do! But it's not about you being a photographer (unless, of course, you are--like me). It's about marketing. Remember that fun little word? Well, it's true. Everything we're talking about all circles around back to the fact that we do social media to market us, our books, and our ideas.

That seems a little cold, Emilie. 

You can take it that way, but that's definitely not how I mean it. Marketing doesn't have to be bad. It also doesn't have to involve shameless self-promotion. It's a way to share who you are with others so they are invested in you and your idea/product/book.

I recommend Instagram to writers for two reasons: 
  1. It gives (or can give) a view into the everyday life of you, the author. 
  2. It's easy, it's popular, it's trending.
Okay, I overstepped my bounds on that last one and made it three things but hey, that's a good thing, right?

#1 The Personal You
I think this is the best part of Instagram - it's a look into the everyday lives of authors and what it's really like to write books for a living (or a portion of your living). If you're content being real with your audience and showing them the sometimes-unglamorous-side of writing, I think you'll gain some great friends and a loyal following.

#2 Easy, Popular, Trending
It's not hard to snap a pic, slap on a filter, and stick it up on Instagram. You may need to think through your hasthags (yep, there everywhere!) but think of it more as showcasing your personality than it is selling your books.

However, I will say it does take some work if you are interested in something a little more...viral.  Being a photographer and a writer I want my photos to showcase the fact that I'm a professional photographer, but (get this) the explanation of my photos can showcase the fact that I'm a writer. Two birds. One stone.

My advice...

Decide what you want your account to showcase and be great at that! (tweet this)
  • If you want your Instagram followers to see you at your best and your worst, then post away without much thought or strategy. Think about fun times, sad times, boring times, anytime - and that will be the right time to post.
  • If you want your followers to see a more stylized view of you, that will take some extra planning. You may decide to artfully display the books your reading, highlight beautiful scenery, or show off creative images of your shoes (yes, please!). But, the key to this type of Instagram account is consistency in style, content, and editing. (I use VSCOcam to edit almost all of my photos). They also recommend less selfies...just saying.
Where does promotion come in?

No, this isn't something I'm offering!
Using Instagram can help with promotion, but it's a little more...communal than you may be used to. A lot of bloggers and/or photographers are now coming together to offer prizes like a $1000 Anthropology card (yeah, that really happened!), but this required a large group of people committing to this.

I'm not going to lie, I stay away from giveaways like this. I mean, I won't even touch them with a 10 foot poll because of the incredible effort it takes just to actually enter. It was some crazy thing of liking a certain number of photos, following an unidentified number of accounts, and circling back around to leave a comment with your social security number in it. Okay, (hehe) I'm joking, but only on the last part there.

Personally, if you're going to promote yourself via Instagram be very careful as to how. Remember, it's more of a lifestyle showcase than it is a hard-promotion vehicle.

  • Mention you're working on your book
  • Tag others and ask questions
  • Talk about your release date
  • Encourage others
  • Make your comment section count!
    (Speak from the heart - people love a great story to go along with a great image!)
  • Point back to your blog/website/FB page using the link section of the profile
  • Talk about giveaways they can enter outside of Insta (ie: a blog or FB giveaway)
  • Share a short excerpt from your book
  • Be involved with your followers - yep, LIKE & FOLLOW back!
  • Post too many selifes...
  • Only post promotional images
  • Have really poor quality photos (um, this is the photographer in me coming out)
  • Post all. the. time.*
  • Forget you have an Instagram account...
Your challenge:
  • Share your Instagram account info in the comments (let's be friends!)
  • Come follow me: @createexploreread

*A note of caution...please don't be that person who posts a million photos of their _______ (fill in the blank with: children, food, cat, dog, husband, back yard). It's good to post, but consider the frequency of your posting.

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