Are you an author who has recently created an Instagram account? Readers are looking to connect with you on social media. It’s probably not a good idea to create an account and leave it incomplete, which I see authors do all the time. If you’re serious about using Instagram, taking care of the basics is the first step to attracting readers.
This blog post is the first in a series called “Author Branding on Social Media.” We’re going to take a look at four popular social networks – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. I’m purposely focusing on these four based on many conversations with other authors about their preferred platforms. Also, these four are the main ones that I use for book marketing.
I recommend that authors try NOT to be everywhere. It’s okay to at least claim your name on a platform, but you really need to focus on 1-2 platforms or else you won’t have much time for writing. I have been focusing on Instagram a bit more this year. Instagram is also owned by Facebook which makes it a worth while to invest time using.
Setting Up Instagram
A smartphone or tablet is required to use Instagram. You can grab the Instagram app for iOS from the App Store, Android from Google Play Store or Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Store. While Instagram is a mobile app, you can view and share your profile from a real web URL – www.instagram.com/yourusername. Later in this blog post, I will refer to Instagram accounts using their web-based URL.
Before we get started on how to optimize your Instagram account, you should know I have a 5-step marketing strategy that I use for all my social media. Grab a free copy of the Quick Start Instagram Checklist below for ideas on how to plan your book marketing strategy. After you download the checklist, you will have access to a FREE 5-Day Email Course.
1 | Create a Username/Handle
I have worked with authors for well over a decade and I’m an author myself. Your name is your brand. I’ve seen authors over the years use the title of their book for branding. If that’s the brand your building and its the only book you will publish, that may work. If you want to do public speaking, people need to know the person behind the brand. Use your name.
Now there are cases where you and another person have the same name. If they claimed it first, then you have to be a little more creative. Sometimes just adding “author” to your name does the job.
2 | Add a Profile Photo
I recommend using the same headshot for Instagram that you’ve used on your website or other social networks. This is how people get to know or recognize you. Changing your profile photo too often will confuse people. A lot of authors will use this space to add their book cover. Since Instagram is so visual there are plenty of opportunities to show your book cover. Don’t be shy! Show your face.
3 | Add a Profile Bio
The bio section is definitely an area where you want to use the “writing tight” rules. It’s also a good idea to let your profile visitors know you’re an author and include your genre. If you’re a blogger or a freelance writer, you may want to mention this in your bio too.
4 | Add a Link
The only place on Instagram where you can add a link is in the bio. This is one of the downsides to Instagram because the platform was created for visual content. There should be a link back to your website. You may want to on occasion change the link to an excerpt to your latest or upcoming book release. You can also place a direct link to Amazon or another online store.
It’s a good idea to use a short URL which is easy to do by going to bitly.com or goo.gl/. You should know both of these URL shortener services provide great analytics too. By the way if you use WordPress, a plugin I like to use is called Short URL.
5 | Plan Your Posts
Your Instagram posts are how you will attract readers. All your posts can’t be about your book. Here are some other ideas to consider:
- Post photos from behind the scenes of getting ready for a book signing
- Include photos from a book signing or book festival
- Ask or take photos of fans holding your book
- Show a screenshot or create stories of your current work-in-progress
- Be personable. Post photos of your everyday life
I highly recommend you NOT make the account private. If you make the account private it makes it harder for readers to follow you. You may want to determine if you need a private Instagram account AND an author Instagram account.
6 | Convert to a Business Profile
The account you signed up for is a personal account. You should know recently Instagram rolled out business profiles. This connection makes it easy to share your Instagram posts on your Facebook Business page and provides valuable insights. Click here to find out how to convert your personal profile to a Business Profile.
If you want more tips, I have a 5-step marketing strategy that I use for all my social media. Grab a free copy of the Quick Start Instagram Checklist below for ideas on how to plan your book marketing strategy. The checklist can be used as a quick boost to your current marketing efforts.
After you did all that hard work setting up Instagram, don’t forget to let people know about your account
- Share the social media profile links to your newsletter subscribers.
- Add the social media icons to your website.
- Add the social media usernames or handles to your print materials like business cards, bookmarks, postcards, etc
Authors on Instagram
When looking for branding ideas for your Instagram account it doesn’t hurt to checkout other author accounts. Some of these authors probably have PR firms who help manage their account. So the list below includes a mixture of famous traditional authors and indie authors on Instagram.
- Amanda Lee
- C Hope Clark
- Debbie Macomber
- Eric Jerome Dickey
- James Patterson
- Jodi Piccoult
- Ken Follet
- Kimberla Lawson Roby
- Lysa Terkeurst
- Max Brailer
- Nicholas Sparks
- Paul Coehlo
- Rhonda McKnight
- Sarah J. Mass
- Stephen King
- Tyora Moody (yours truly… I follow back)
- Vivian Kay
As an added note, I didn’t get into hashtags on this post (I will later). You should check out how readers show support for their favorite authors. Here are a few hashtags for:
If you made it this far down the page, you’re definitely interested in Instagram. Don’t forget to grab a free copy of the Quick Start Instagram Checklist below.Remember you gain access to a FREE 5-Day Email Course.