Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Instagram For Authors: How to Get the Most out of your Instagram Experience

 I'm slowly recovering from my first ever conference, 2 of them actually in one shot- I was in Vegas for a full week- first for Blushing Books Passionate Pen Conference, and then for RT 2016- Both conferences were simply amazing, and I went to bed every night wondering how I got to a point where this was my real life, but the amazingness of the trip really deserves it's own post- and it's not this one.

The Passionate Pen had 2 days of classes taught by authors such as Sue Lyndon, Vanessa Vale, Maggie Ryan, Patty Devlin, and MYSELF.  I know, right? What was I thinking?

I was thinking that thanks to the help of my amazing friend, the model Riccella, I have a pretty good handle on how Instagram works, and how authors can use it to expand their audience, promote their books, and brand themselves.  Over the course of the rest of the conference, I ran into a lot of authors who were interested in learning how to better implement Instagram as a marketing tool, so I decided to take my presentation notes, and turn them into a blog post.


1) Instagram is all mobile. You can access and look at posts on a pc on, but you can only post from a mobile device.

2) The only place you can add a link on Instagram is in your bio. When you make posts- you can hand enter a web address, but it will not link. This is why it is really important to include a link to your website or Amazon Author page in your Bio. A lot of the time when people post about a book, or a review, or something people might want to buy or look at, they add "link in bio" to the caption

3) You can link your Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flicker, and cross post easily.

4) Instagram is ALL photo based, and media experts are saying it is now bigger than twitter. We live in a very visually based age, so it is imperative that we learn how to actively market to a larger fan base.

I'm going to skip the how to download the app, and get it set up- and get straight into the nitty gritty of how to use it.


This may surprise you, but one of the first things you should do after setting up your profile, is begin browsing. On Instagram, like twitter, you search by hashtags. And Instagram, much like Amazon, seems to use algorithms to decide what to show you and who to show your posts to. (outside of your followers and feed.  Search hashtags you expect to use. If you like to post quotes, search #quotes and like a few. If it's pin-up girls, search and like a few of those. Search hashtags such as #currentread #amreading, #amwriting to find things to like and follow. This helps personalize your instagram experience.


Seriously. It is. If you take just one thing from this post- let it be this. The KEY to successful instagramming is the hashtags. People search by hashtag to find new posts to like, and accounts to follow, suggestions are made to people based on which hashtag trends they seem to be following.

So here are my tips on how to use hashtags to your advantage For this example, I am going to use one of my friend Riccella's posts.

1) Use a  LOT of hashtags. Unlike twitter- there is no character limit on Instagram. A good rule of thumb is to try for 10 to 15 per post, with a maximum of around 30. YOu can see that here, Riccella, used about 30 hashtags

2) You want to use a variety of 3 different types of hashtags.
    TRADE SPECIFIC- These are the ones that are trends used within your immediate organic
audience.  For authors, these would be things like #book #bookstagram #author #authorsofinstagram  etc , and so forth.. Riccella's were #photography #artist #model#bodyscape etc

GENERAL  AUDIENCE-  These are the hashtags that are going to draw in your crossover audience. These can be more generalized, not specific to trend or trade.  Some examples used here are #utah #muse #beautiful #shapes

CUSTOM HASHTAGS-These are even more specific. Riccella uses her signature #riccella hashtag. Besides the photographers she works with, she is the only one using this hashtag, so it will make her stuff easy to find. A custom one I use that is not used often is #blushingbooks.


I know I've used the term Instagram trends a lot, and you are probably wondering what I mean by that. There are two types of instagram trends. One is basically the same as "trending" on Facebook or Twitter. The other are types of  "groups" that exist on Instagram always. It's important to pay attention to the trends you see, and what hashtags people use. If you have a cute dog, for instance, and you post pictures of him often- you might get a handful of unorganic likes and some organic ones. If you use the hashtag trend #dogsofinstagram, your audience widens significantly.

In the Realm of my specific trade as an author, there are several noteable trends. There is #authorsofinstagram- which can be added to just about any post I make

There is #bookstagram- This is one you want to pay attention to- readers and book bloggers use bookstagram daily. If you are posting, books, promo, cover reveals, etc- you want to use #bookstagram

#amwriting and #currentread are two others that are noteable within our trade.

My all time favorite Instagram trend is #socksunday- and it is not just because I have a wicked sock collection ( I totally do though)
#SockSunday is a HUGE trend that is popular and used almost exclusively within the writing/reading/bookblogging community. People who participate in Sock Sunday, search for other people participating, and often like and follow  new participants each Sunday.

What is Sock Sunday? It's simple- You wear cute socks- they dont have to be nearly as crazy as mine, and take a picture of your feet, and whatever book you are currently reading. This is a great way to showcase your own books, or your friends books that you enjoy. You can also add in props- Your morning coffee, a glass of wine, a cute pillow, whatever. The more props you use, the more hashtags you can throw in- the bigger your generalized audience will be.

As an example, here is my latest Sock Sunday Post. You can see that I didn't use crazy socks, (for once),  that I used a recently autographed copy of Renee Roses book, and several props.

Yes, that photo is slightly staged. Which brings me to my last point- Instagram is all about visual stimulation. The better you can set up your photos, the more followers you are likely to get.

I'm actually not an expert on this- So I am going to share a link to an amazing post about it, specifically aimed at authors and book marketing.

I might Actually end up making this post a bit of a series- Book Bloggers to Follow, New Trends to keep an eye on- etc.

If you have any other Instagram related questions email me

rayannajamison (at) gmail (dot) com