By: Jenny Kate
Facebook bought Instagram for a cool $1 billion, and put its juggernaut of an advertising platform behind it. For that reason alone, it’s worth a look. Yes, there are others making a run for “Best in Show” – SnapChat, TikTok, Clubhouse. But for 2021 at least, if your reader is under 40, Instagram is going to be your new best friend.
Cultivating a following on IG is the same as everywhere else. Give readers a reason to follow you. Make your content fun, entertaining, informative or educational. Be yourself. Consumers, readers included, buy from those they like, know and trust. IG is a great place for them to get to know and trust you.
But where should you put all that great content you’re going to create?
Instagram has four main places to do this:
Your Feed, Stories, Reels and IGTV.
The Feed is your main profile page. It’s the blocked grid that followers see when they click on your profile. This is like window shopping. It’s the first impression people will have of your feed. How does it look? How does it feel? Is this something that will keep my attention?
The algorithm changes all the time, but for the most part, it does not prioritize the Feed. So that means you don’t need to spend hours creating beautiful graphics on Canva to post every day. Posting every two or three days works great. But this isn’t your Facebook Feed where you dump photos and go. Curate your best content, make it look great and write a compelling caption with a call to action to click the link in your bio or DM you for more information.
Pay attention to your bio. Have a professional headshot. Use emojis and tell people who you are and what you do. Whatever link you decide to use, make sure you have a strong call to action to tell followers what to do at that link.
Stories are Instagram’s answer to SnapChat. They can be found at the top of the screen where you see a row of circles. The best Stories actually tell a story. You’re a storyteller, just do it visually with videos or photos or a mix of both. Use emojis, hashtags, GIFs – have fun with it. The name of the game on IG is fun!
Stories are definitely shown more often than the Feed. They are a great place to jumpstart and grow your readership, so consider posting to this every day or every other day.
You can mix it up here. Chat about your day, talk about a current event, or give updates on your writing. But again, just be yourself. This is the place where readers get to know you.
Reels are Instagram’s answer to TikTok. The link for Reels is found toward the bottom of the screen and looks like a movie clapboard.
These have shown to absolutely jump engagement. Reels are short form video that if you use the TikTok rules, it’s a lot of dancing, singing, and general merriment. You can add music if you want.
The best Reels content is entertaining, educational or inspirational. Make people smile. Teach them something to get a result. Tell a story to inspire them.
You can also go live using IGTV or your Stories. This is what it sounds like. YouTube for Instagram. This is more long-form video content than Reels. You can go live from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. Accounts with larger followings can go up to an hour.
Best practice for using Live Video is to be consistent with your timing. Almost like having a weekly show where people know you’ll be there. Tease it beforehand with a post telling people what time and day to expect you. The algorithm prioritizes Live Video in both the Feed and in your Stories, so that works in your favor.
The location of your content is honestly less important than the type of content you create. Make it fun, educational and motivating. You can read your book, interview a character, talk writing with a friend, go into your research. You can also make this about other hobbies having nothing to do with writing.
Do you hike, knit, play an instrument, sing, woodwork? Any of those are great for helping people get to know you. Readers want to know, like and trust you. IG is an amazing place to help make that happen!
Jenny Kate is the founder of Writer Nation, an online space dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 19 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. You can find her on her Website, Facebook, and Instagram