Do you want to reach new readers?
Instagram is home to over a billion registered users with more than 500 million of them logging on to the site each day. This serves as a lucrative platform for businesses to market their products and services. Not surprisingly then, nearly 71% of American businesses are active on Instagram today.
Writers like us can however find Instagram a little hard to negotiate. As a visual medium, it is not really the ideal platform to showcase your writing skills. But with Facebook seeing a drop in popularity, especially among the younger audiences, writers need to find a way to reach their readers on alternate platforms like Instagram.
In this article, we will look at what appeals to Instagrammers and how writers can take advantage of the platform to promote their writing.
1. Identifying the factors that increase Instagram engagement
The Instagram algorithm rewards users who publish content that engages their followers. Engagement in this context not only refers to likes, comments and shares, but also swipe ups, views, saves and direct messages. In short, your content must make your followers react in one way or the other.
The challenge for writers is to produce visual content that not only elicits engagement from their followers, but also helps them promote their writing through the medium.
Let us take a look at some strategies that writers have successfully made use of on Instagram.
2. Using the caption for commentary
This is one of the most popular and effective strategies among writers. Instagram provides its users with the ability to include a caption alongside every photo or video that they post. The objective of this strategy is to showcase your writing through these captions while uploading an image that captures the essence of this writing.
For instance, take a look at this post by writer Malinda Fuller.
In this example above, the writer has posted a snippet from one of her works in the captions area along with an image that is perfectly contextual to her writing. In addition to showcasing her work, the writer also has information on how an interested reader can find her work. This ‘call to action’ drives engaged audiences to her website from where one could buy her book.
3. Appeal to the book lovers
As a writer, you target an audience that loves reading and is perhaps already well-read. Your Instagram feed could thus appeal to those emotions. One of the most effective ways to do this is to talk about the books you read and also highlight the quotes you love. This attracts a following that enjoys your posts and thus take a liking to what you write.
Here is an example of such a post from writer Caith Esra.
In this case, the writer showcases her love for used books – something that appeals to a lot of passionate readers. This engages your target followers and makes them reminisce about the charm of reading used books.
4. Co-promote with other writers
The strategies outlined above only work when you have a significant following on Instagram already. Gaining your first few hundred followers on social media is often the hardest. But with co-promotion, this challenge can be easily overcome.
Take a look at this example from writer Mandi Kontos.
In this post, the writer shares a new work from her friend and fellow writer. Since Instagram followers for one writer are likely to follow other writers as well, such shout-outs help writers spread the word about each other. Your fellow writers can return the favor by promoting your books when they get published.
5. Use lots of visuals
Regardless of your strategies, Instagram is a visual medium at the end of the day. Your success on the platform cannot be possible without investing in good photos and videos. Depending on your genre, producing high quality visuals can be easy or challenging.
Some of the most popular Instagrammers are bloggers in niches like travel and food. Food bloggers, especially, are exceptionally popular because people love food in general. In fact, according to a Guardian report, a growing number of people are moving away from “unphotogenic” breakfasts like cereals to more “Instagram-friendly” alternatives like avocado toast.
It is advisable to read up on how to capture great photographs and use them on your Instagram. As a general pointer, studies show that photos with no filters often see better engagement than those with filters. Also, the photographic angle matters significantly. If you are a food blogger, it is a good idea to capture pizzas vertically from top while burgers are best captured at a 45-degree angle. The rules of the game are significantly different for other categories like travel or fashion.
6. Follow these general words of advice to reach new readers
In addition to the pointers mentioned above, there are a few other things that a writer must keep in mind while promoting their work on Instagram.
Don’t be single-dimensional: While it may be true that you are on Instagram just to promote your writing, do not focus on just your work. Success in Instagram depends on the relationship you build with your followers. Posting personal photos and non-writing related content on your feed allows your audience to know you better. This encourages more participation.
Ask questions: Captions are a great place not just to showcase your writing, but also to engage. A good way to trigger a discussion is by asking questions to your followers. This encourages them to comment and improves engagement.
Use polls: Instagram has a poll feature that allows users to ask simple Yes/No type questions to your audience. You can use this feature to involve your followers in your writing. For instance, you could ask your followers to pick a name for the protagonist in your upcoming novel. Your followers are more invested in your work when they have played a part in its production.
Use the bio: Sometimes writers can be so caught up with building an Instagram following that they may become hesitant to promoting their work fearing criticism. Your Instagram profile page is the perfect platform to tell everything about yourself. Do not miss talking about your work and linking to your website from here. People love to know more about the users they follow on Instagram. The bio is the perfect place to do this.
Do you have other tips that writers must follow to find success on Instagram? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.