Instagram is my favorite place to interact with readers outside of this blog, Twitter follows this, and then Facebook is last. If you are an author on Instagram or have ever thought of using it as a platform, here are some of my favorite hacks for increasing engagement.
Less is More: Pick a Few Kinds of Posts and Stick with It
I heard David Shands of the SleepisforSuckers brand and the Social Proof Podcast mention something like this and realized I was already doing it. This awareness encouraged me to stay consistent with this strategy, which has been working wonderfully. If you’ve been paying attention, I only post four kinds of content.
- Black History
- Books I Read / Recommend
- Author / Entrepreneur Stuff
- Family / Travel Stuff
I have incorporated reels, but that’s more along the lines of the medium to which I present the content.
Whether it is in the form of a reel, IGTV video, or image, the core of my content is the same.Tweet
It seems like I do a lot, but when you break it down, I really don’t. Everything I post falls into one of these four categories. A poetry contest post falls into the author business category. A t-shirt promo is an entrepreneur post, too, because I am promoting someone’s brand. A post of my twin sister or hubby or doggie is a family post, and so on.
While I still struggle sometimes with what to post, knowing I only have to focus on one of these four (depending on the last time I posted about it) makes it much easier to stay consistent.
I learned you don’t have to have a lot going on to be productive.Tweet
This is a lesson in “less is more.”
I don’t even post a lot. Some recommend posting at least 3x a day on Instagram to stay on top of the algorithm. Welp, I am behind on that. But I will say that has not affected my engagement, and I think it’s because the kinds of posts I publish are consistent. Remember, consistency is not about speed or quantity. To be consistent means something that does not vary.
Use Saves and Shares to Learn What’s Working / Not Working
Instagram, like every other app, is constantly changing. In 2021, the platform’s algorithms favor saves and shares over comments and likes. Below is an image someone posted that sums this up perfectly.
Likes still play a role. It is just not the most important in terms of pushing the algorithm.
You can’t see how many saves someone’s post has or know who has saved your post or shared it, but the act alone helps understand the kind of content your audience engages with the most, which lets you know what types of content to post.
UPDATE: Below is a screenshot of how the save, share, like, and comment buttons look on IG. Saving is not reposting. It’s just clicking that ribbon looking icon on the far right and the post is saved instantly. On the left you have the like button, comment and share.
To view the insights for a post (assuming your page is a business page), click on the insights tab under your post.
It will pull up your insights…
…including the number of accounts you reached, the percentage of people who weren’t following you before, the number of people who followed you, and your impressions.
This will help you see what kinds of posts people engage with the most, which is your audience’s way of saying what types of posts are getting their attention.
I measure the success of a post based on the number of saves, then shares, comments, and then likes. Notice likes are last, and that is because the algorithm wants to cut down on bots. Some people also buy followers for some strange reason. A bot can like a post, but true engagement is measured by more thoughtful action. Comments of five or more words are better than emojis, and shares and saves are better than likes. The Women with Blue Eyes post did far better than I thought it would, which lead to preorder sales from new people.
Create Folders for Saves
When I come across a post, I like I save it for later—especially a Black History post I may want to repost in the future.
When you save a post, it will show you something like this.
Click Save to Collection
The list of your folders will come up. If you do not have folders, click on the plus sign and create one.
To view your saves in folders, go to Saves, and there they are. This makes it easier to go back to those dope posts to share, like, or comment on them.
My folders are:
- Black History
Separate Business Messages from Personal Messages in the DMs
I don’t know if you know, but many good business deals happen in the DMs. I’ve sold lots of books from the DM alone. Here’s how I keep up with it: I separate my business messages from personal/family messages.
Direct Messages from family and friends go under the general tab, and business messages go under the primary tab.
I also have my messages set up to limit who messages me, so I am not bombarded by spam and freaks. Here’s how to do it:
Go to Settings > Messages > Message Requests On
This means that their message comes in as a message request you can either approve or decline for anyone not following you.
You can see a preview of the message, so you can decline it if it looks weird and then block that person.
We have all heard about the other things I do before, such as always using the best picture possible, including a caption that describes the image and using relevant hashtags. For the photos, make sure they are not pixelated and that the text on the image is not hard to read. Instagram focuses on photos, so your pictures must be eye-catching.
And those are some of my hacks! Feel free to use them and tell me how it’s going. Do you have any social media strategies you use to interact with your readers and strengthen your author brand? I’d love to hear about it!
Follow me @yecheilyah on Instagram!