It’s easy to tell a story with words—but pictures? What is a writer supposed to do with Instagram? Should it merely be a tool to post cats getting in the way of your writing by sitting on your keyboard? Perhaps. But if you want to use Instagram as a way of connecting with your readers, here are a few things to remember.
You don’t need to be Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz to use Instagram. It's not a platform for professional photographers and preteens only; there's also a lot of opportunity in Instagram for authors. And as far as the photography goes, you should at least know how to use your mobile camera and the different filters; there are literally thousands of short YouTube videos on photography for mobile devices. Find a tutorial just for your phone and find another about Instagram. Spending even an hour watching a few how-to’s will greatly improve the quality of the photos you take and help you sell your book.
When you write, you have a voice that’s consistent through all of your books; that should be the case with Instagram as well. Your social media marketing should be an extension of your author brand. Use the same filters and style of photography. A fan should be able to look through your feed and see photos that feel familiar. When they’re scrolling through their Instagram feed they should ideally not even need to see your user handle—they’ll know it’s you just by how the photo looks.
There’s no guidelines for how often you should post, but at the very least one photo every other day—more often if you can. Don’t bombard your fans with photos, however. Unlike your Twitter social media marketing, where you might post dozens of Tweets in a day, Instagram should be no more than three photos a day.
Let Your Fans In
More than any other social network, Instagram can be a place to really give your fans a glimpse of your life. Don’t be afraid to capture what it’s like to be you—what does your office look like? Do you have animals? Do you take walks in the morning? What does your favorite coffee mug look like? Capturing the mundane is fine, but capture it in a way that’s creative and helps promote your book and you as an author—your coffee framed in a way, for example, that reveals a tiny glimpse of your laptop screen, which has the opening lines of your next book.
Promote Your Book
Posting the cover of your next book is a great way to build interest and buzz, but an even better way is to get your fans involved—post three variants of a book cover and ask your readers which they like best. Just like any other social media platform, you want to engage your fans in conversation and letting fans feel included in your book's publication process has the potential to help sell your book.
Inspire Your Readers
Just because Instagram is all about photos doesn’t mean you can’t caption it—in fact you should caption all of your photos. Use this space to inspire your readers. There are several apps that can also turn book quotes into Instagram posts; this is a great way to tease your fans with quotes from your latest book—or your favorite quotes from pasts books.
Like any social media outlet, hashtagging is important. You don’t need to (nor should you) hashtag every post, but do so when it’s appropriate. Also remember to always use geolocation when you are at a public place; never post a photo of you at an event and not check into the library or bookstore you happen to be at!
As with all social media marketing, remember to have fun!