Instagram is a great platform for writers. But, just like anything, there are things that work and things that don’t. I’ve created and organically grown my own account and other people’s. I hope my experiences can help you do the same. Here’s how to get started:
Don’t use a personal account
You may already use Instagram to post pictures of your cats, your shoes, or your scrabble parties. Fine. But don’t use this account to publicise your writing. It isn’t just a hobby, you need to view it as a business. So take it seriously enough to set up a professional looking account, and then post something on it every day if you can.
Choose a theme and stick to it
What do you write about? Fitness? Food? Flamenco? Great, you have a target audience. Name your account something that will attract them, and post pictures on that subject. What if you write fiction? Well, what genre is it? Whether mystery, romance, thriller or YA it will appeal to certain people. Even if you write in a mixture of styles and genres, there’s one type of person who will be interested in them all- the bookaholics. These story junkies are often writers too, which is fantastic. Support their work and they will support yours.
Once you’ve decided on a theme, stick to it as much as possible. For example, if you’re writing a historical fiction novel and you’ve decided to post interesting facts from the period, make sure you do just that. Of course, you can also post other things for variety, such as pictures of you writing in different places (coffee shops go down well), or doing research. But never forget, people who follow you do so because they like your content. If you suddenly start posting nothing but pictures of Larry the Labradoodle, when you promised tasty food, you’re likely to lose a lot of followers, no matter how cute Larry is. True, you might also gain some dog lovers. But they won’t be very interested in your writing.
A note of caution; if every one of your posts is an appeal to people to buy your book they will eventually get bored. Your aim is not just to tell people you’ve written one, you need to show them why they will love it. So post good photos with interesting captions. If you bore people on social media why would they not expect to be bored when reading your longer pieces?
Hashtags help others find your posts. Look at what people who post similar things to you use. #writer or #indieauthor is good. #writeroffantasyfictionsetintheottomanempire might just be a bit niche.
Between seven to twelve hashtags is a good amount- enough so you’re easy to find, not so much that you annoy people. Do also make sure they’re relevant to your post.
Most importantly- be friendly
There are rules of etiquette on social media, just like daily life. If someone comments that they like your post, say thank you. Follow back at least some of the people who follow you. ‘Like’ other people’s posts. Interact with them. They will soon notice if you don’t!
Those with loyal and supportive followers have them because they are loyal and supportive themselves. It’s easy enough to get the numbers. Indeed, there are many apps that can help you get more. But these followers are not friends. Friends are harder to get. But it’s friends who will read your blog, your poetry, your short stories. It’s friends who will leave reviews and buy your book. And wasn’t that the whole point in the first place?
I hope these few pointers will help you create an Instagram account that will not only promote your work, but will help you discover some loyal followers, fans, and friends.
This article has also been published on Invest Grow Repeat.