By Jennifer Lovett Herbranson
Are you getting FOMO? The Fear of Missing Out by not being on Instagram? Well if you aren’t using it, you should. It’s the hottest social media platform out there and the fastest growing. According to Statista, Instagram now boasts more than 500 million daily active users. That’s daily. Twitter has only 126 million. It’s nowhere near Facebook’s 1.5 billion daily users, but it’s gaining, and gaining fast. And Americans report more engagement on Instagram than on Facebook on a daily basis these days.
So how do you take advantage of Instagram as part of your author brand?
Stories are showing the most engagement these days. Since you are a storyteller, this one is a no-brainer. Tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. Even if you’re doing a story about pizza (the most common food pic on Instagram), create the story: the search for pizza, the finding of the pizza, the eating of the pizza. Anything can be a story.
There are several ways to create the story.
Type is a simple post with text with creative fonts on fun backgrounds.
Music – add music to your story by choosing the song on this tab before capturing your video
You can go Live and tell the world what you’re up to, just like Facebook Live, only this will fade off Instagram after 24 hours.
You can do a Normal story and create it with photos and/or video. Video is only 15-seconds.
Boomerang is a burst of photos that repeats over and over. Like a wave or jump in the air or opening a book.
Superzoom – really focus on something and zoom in on it Add music to make it sound creepy or funny.
The Hands-free feature just allows you to create video without having to keep your finger on the record button.
Hashtags are super important on Instagram so people can find you. Choosing the right hashtags will put you in front of potential readers.
For a regular Instagram post, I recommend only two hashtags in the main caption. Then add up to 30 in the first comment. Make a list and rotate your hashtags so you aren’t stalking the hashtag.
For stories, you can simply add hashtags to the Story so people can see them, or you can add them and then put a sticker or shape over them to hide them.
Distraction and engagement are why people are on social media. The more compelling, interesting, funny and creative your posts, the more people will enjoy them. It’s important to be a presence on Instagram to make it work. That doesn’t mean simply posting photos, slapping on a few hashtags, and then ignoring it. This isn’t a “build it and they will come” scenario. You must engage.
Find the hashtags that represent your author brand, your community, your interests and likes. Then start liking and commenting on those. Be a presence.
There is debate in the Instagram world about the effectiveness of your feed these days with Stories taking off. Tyler J McCall, Instagram Guru and Coach, recommends feed posts only every other day or so and to concentrate on your Story.
That being said, your feed should look like your author brand. What is your brand? What are your themes? The Instagram feed represents the window in the window-shopping metaphor of people looking to find others to follow. If your feed is a jumbled mess, then it’s unclear what you’re offering.
Look at other authors in your genre and see what they are posting. Do they have a theme?
Try celebrities you like. What is their theme?
Sometimes that’s a certain dominant color. Other times it’s a regular pose, like with a book reading or playing with the dog. Other times it’s a certain camera angle. The possibilities are endless, so get creative. Think about your author brand and the themes and messages in your books. What can you out of those to make part of your theme?
Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform out there. If you are considering social media for your author brand and you like photos, I recommend jumping in the Instagram deep end. It’s not as overtly political as Facebook. And it’s not as time-consuming as a YouTube channel. It’s a fun platform and who knows, you might even find some new friends.
Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity.
You can find her on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett