My Favorite Instagram Hacks


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.

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.

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
  • Entrepreneur
  • Inspiring
  • Authors

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!


Don’t forget to preorder your copy of The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen! Releasing June 8th.

My 7 Instagram Tips for New Authors

I think Instagram is a great place for writers because there is a prodigious reader and writing community there.

Below, you will find seven tips I put together for new writers who also enjoy using the gram. Hope it helps.

  • Tip #1: Private Page to Business Page

If you’re an author using Instagram, it’s a good idea that your author page is a business page. This will allow you to use insights and other metrics that can help you post quality content by looking beyond the number of likes and tracking things like saves, shares, demographics, and the best times to post based on when your audience is online. (You can find this under insights)

Business pages are also automatically public, which is what you want. If you are trying to build readership and engagement, your author pages should not be private. That is like having a closed sign hanging off the door of your new business. To be clear, this isn’t your personal page (unless you have turned your personal page into a business page, but we will touch on that in a second). This is your business page, and business pages should be public.

Get out of thinking anything you post on the internet is private. It’s not, and if it’s any consolation, making your profile private does not necessarily make it “safe.”

Switching to Business Account

  • Although I am not a big fan of Facebook, you will need to connect it to a Facebook page to create an Instagram business page (at this writing). I know, it sucks. But IG is owned by Facebook so, go figure.

    This page cannot be your personal page but a Facebook business page. If you have not already, head over to Facebook and create a Facebook page for your author business. This will make it easier when you switch over. Then, come back to your IG, click on the three bars in the upper right-hand corner and go to settings. Click on account, then scroll down until you see the option to create a business page.

Changing a Personal Page to a Business Page

If you are going to turn your personal page into a business page, there are some things you will need to do first. Some people say not to do this and to create a separate business page, but I agree with both ways with a few exceptions.

To turn your personal page into a business page, you will want to make sure you delete everything that is not in some way relatable to your business. This means you might want to delete those nudes and all fifteen pictures of your cat.

Another option is to delete everyone who is not part of your readership and unfollow people who aren’t right for your business. While it is best to create a separate business page, turning your personal page into a business page could work if you are willing to make a few adjustments.

You will also have a lot of family and friends on your personal page, and family and friends are not your target audience. The chances are that’s why you are complaining so much about not getting the support you deserve. You are trying to sell to the family instead of the strangers who want to buy from you.

Family is family, but they are not your customers. Even those who buy from you aren’t doing it for the same reasons your readers are. A family who buys from you is just trying to be supportive because they are related to you, not because they actually like to read your books. It’s a hard pill to swallow, I know, and it doesn’t apply to all family members (some of them do like your work), but the quicker you move out of the mentality that your family must support you to be successful, the more successful you will actually be because you will have embraced the strangers who are readers passionate about the kinds of books you write.

Just as author blogs differ from business blogs, I believe author social media pages differ from other business social media pages in some ways. One way is that for writers, showing off our likes, interest, and personality is all part of author branding. People buy from people they know, like, trust, and getting personal (though, not too personal…keep it clean) helps build trust.

  • Tip #2: Track Progress by Using Instagram’s Insights So You Know What’s Working and What’s Not

One of the hardest things I have found as an introvert is figuring out what other people want. The only way to know is to ask, track behavior, and pay attention to actions.

Once you’ve decided you are ready, making the switch from a private to a business page will help you track your audience’s actions and see which posts are reaching people. 

When your IG page is a business page, you get to see things you won’t see on personal pages. Below are screenshots of posts from my page.

If you click on the insights (which you can see under your post on business accounts), you can see not just how many likes you got but how many people shared your post, saved your post, viewed your profile, or clicked on your website link.

This helps you to see which posts have high engagement and which posts do not.

The thing about any business social media page is that it differs from pages that you are only using to connect with family members, friends, or just hang out. On those pages, likes, shares, and follows don’t mean anything except maybe to boost your ego. On business pages, though, likes and shares are important to you understanding how your content performs – by tracking metrics over time – and is the key to developing a content strategy that works best for your audience.

As a business page on social media, the formula is typically:

Engagement =

Likes + Comments / Followers

You also see things like the number of people who viewed your profile, clicks to your website, where the people are coming from (what city/state), age range, gender, and more to consider in terms of what’s working other than counting likes, which is actually the least important form of engagement.

Let’s look at some examples of my high performing Instagram posts and how I determine they are high performing. Try not to look at the number of likes. Although that plays a part, you can see likes on everyone’s post. In this example, we are looking at what you can only see on a business page and how to increase posts’ quality.

Example #1

Here, the winner is the number of shares (46) and saves (74). The number of comments is next (20) and then, lastly, number of likes. Also, you will notice the number of people I reached and the number of people who clicked on my profile. Although there are more likes than saves, liking a post is last in terms of engagement.

Example #2

Here, there were only two profile visits but the reach was huge and so were the saves. A lot of people enjoyed this post. But I want you to notice something else.

While this post has the most likes and a higher reach, example number one is still a better post to me because it’s my own original content.

This is important.

In example two, I was reposting a black history meme from another page (you can see my credit at the bottom left…always give people credit when you share their post. You can do this easily using a repost app). The posts that are yours are always the best!

Never share more of someone else content than you do your own.

Example #3

 

Example number three was lit. The reach is impressive, the shares and saves are outstanding, and the likes even got up there a bit. Here, everything outshined the number of comments, so while people loved the post, they didn’t have too much to say about it. I guess we all know Alice Walker by now lol.

Chicago (my hometown), Atlanta, New York, Houston, and Charlotte are where the bulk of my support comes from (at this writing). I am happy to see ATL at the top since I live in Georgia and see the Chi representing. My biggest audience is made up of women, which is always good since I am a woman, and the age group is between 25-44. Let’s move on.

  • Tip #3 Use Sharp, HQ Images

Instagram’s focus is on photos, so uploading pictures that are grainy, pixelated, or include text that’s hard to read is like the IG cardinal sin. If your images look like crap, you won’t get much engagement. Trust.

Use sharp, high-quality images in all your posts. You can brand yourself by creating lovely images using Canva or PosterMyWall

It’s also good if the images have something to do with your books or show off your personality in some way. A good practice is something I saw someone post about looking at your last nine posts. Can someone understand who you are and what you offer by these posts alone? I have been doing this (looking at my previous nine posts), and it has been a helpful reminder to pay attention to the kinds of content I post. People will see the image before seeing the caption, so the image must speak first.

  • Tip #4: Include Text/Caption with Images

Speaking of seeing the image first, people pay attention to the caption! Add some context to the image by adding a caption. Now, I have noticed many celebrities don’t do this. They often post a selfie, and leave it at that, but that’s because they are celebrities who already have a strong audience and platform. David Banner doesn’t have to include text on his images, and he will still get over a thousand likes and hundreds of comments and shares.

But you are not David Banner.

You are a new author at the beginning of an exciting journey, and you are introducing people to who you are for the first time. Use the caption to explain the images you post. It doesn’t have to be uber long and fancy, but something is better than leaving it blank.

  • Tip #5 Hashtags

Going back to this screenshot, it appears my hashtags are working on this post, reaching 45 people alone. Hashtags don’t exist just so you can be cute but they work just like the tags you’ll use on a blog post. They are searchable on social media. If you click on your hashtag, it will take you to all the posts relevant to that hashtag. They help categorize content and track discussion topics based on keywords. You can Google the hashtags that are best for your business. It may even be necessary to research your hashtags (I did because I’m a nerd lol). There are tools available like Hashtags.org or HashtagDirectory.com that can help you. You don’t really need 50 hashtags. The most important thing is that the hashtags you use are trending and apply to your business.

Tip #6: Clean Up Your IG Bio

I just changed my bio again because I wanted it to reflect what I do and offer. This is one of the most critical parts of your account. Since you are limited on characters, you must quickly tell people what you have to offer in as few words as possible. As you can see, I don’t have tons of followers, so don’t think because you have less or even more, that’s the most important thing because it’s not. The number of followers doesn’t determine quality.

  • Author – Make sure you let people know you are an author. Don’t be afraid. If your an author, say that.
  • Tell us what you do or offer. If you’re an author, tell us the kinds of books you write.
  • Be sure your website or Linktree link is in the bio.

Tip #7 Website Link in Bio

What do you want people to do once when they visit your profile? Do you want them to like, comment, and then move on with their lives? Do you want them to research something? Do you want them to buy something? What do you want people to do when they come across your page? That answer is the link you promote in your bio.

If you are using Social media for business, the end of the road isn’t your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter page. You need an author website/blog/email list and should be directing people to these sources to learn more about who you are, what you offer, and how it is beneficial to their lives.

In your bio, you may also want to include a special website link. This link is special because it can be created specifically for Instagram. Instead of posting the link to your website alone, you can create a landing page with buttons specific to where you want people to go. Instagram only allows one link, but you can post several when you:

  • Set up a Linktree account where you can house several buttons, accessible through one link

Even if you don’t have a website yet, Linktree is excellent because it allows you to list more than one thing at a time. You can add buttons to your social media sites, for example. When people visit your link, they can choose where they want to go. You can also see how often people are visiting your sites. I used linktree for a while, and it’s excellent.

  • You can create your own linktree-like link through your website

To get the best out of Linktree would mean using the paid version so you can customize it, but if you have your own website (that you are already paying for), you can also opt to create a page on your website that mimics the Linktree platform. This is a special page specifically for Instagram, so you don’t have to make it visible from your home page, but add the link to your IG bio. (Click here to see my page for an example)

This saves money, points people directly to your website, and promotes you and not Linktree.

Website Link + Call to action button helps direct potential readers to your books, blog, or wherever you want them to go. Remember, social media is not the end of the road. If you want people to do more than like a post, be sure to lead them somewhere they can learn more.


To Summarize:

  • Make your profile public, and create a business page. Be sure to shake up your content to reflect your business profile

 

  • Use the insights and metrics you see over time to improve your strategy and increase clicks to your website.

 

  • Write a bio that targets what it is that you do and what you offer.

 

  • Use sharp, high-quality images

 

  • Use caption/text to describe images

 

  • Use hashtags strategically, researching the ones that best apply to the kind of content you post.

 

  • Include the link to your website in your bio or use linktr.ee for multiple links

 

Personify Your Posts

eggs-with-personality

I actually wrote this post last night, though I did not have the time to post it. As the night welcomed us into another day, the sun lowering itself deeper into the bowels of the skies and the moon resurrecting into a position perfect enough to shine its light on the Earth, I was encouraged to write a post for you to ponder. As the brisk winds happily leap at the opportunity to shine now that fall is upon us, ripping through the air and causing us to turn up the heat and crawl underneath the covers, I want to remind you to personify your posts. 

When I blog, I try to notice what attracts me to other blogs. I understand part of the process is not just to push the publish button but to notice my behavior as a reader as well so that it may assist me in my own blogging endeavors. For instance, I’ve heard somewhere (don’t ask me where) that if you pay attention to how you purchase books or even read them, this can help you to sell them. As a reader, you know what attracts people and what doesn’t. So one thing in particular that draws me to other blogs are the ones that are written by people who indeed appear to be just that—people. Bloggers whose content is not so author or blogger expert certified that they lose sight of that personal connection.  Sometimes we can get lost in all the technical glitches, all of the electrical waves that make up the World Wide Web and we forget that our readership is made up of flesh and blood. They are people with lives outside of the internet and have a wide range of experience and expertise.

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When you share your experiences combined with your characteristics and therefore a human persona, it makes others interested in what you have to say. Your point of view can make them laugh, cry, and maybe even irritated or angry but it’s yours to exemplify. Whatever the message, if it builds upon a human foundation, I think it can help us to become better bloggers because our audience can participate with us. They can grow with us and actually become part of the process. This I have decided to embark on myself actually, to try to engage my readers more so that they feel part of the blog which means taking part in my life not that of the computer. It does not require you get too personal, but it requires you to get personal enough. You don’t have to air your dirty laundry, but you do have to be able to relate to people on some level no matter what the goal is for your blog. It is not to compromise who you are as an individual, but to step outside of your comfort zone and actually write for a readership because there are actually people reading your blog.

So make us feel like you really are that crazy friend down the street, or that know-it-all around the corner. We don’t have to agree with your perspective, but do you have one? Do we know that underneath all those blog posts there’s someone over there named Bob. He has five children that run him crazy and a nagging wife. Or maybe you’re a 23 year old named Tanya with a college professor who spits when he talks. Yea, gross us out, make us laugh, cause a discussion that makes us tear at each others throats, (or hug each others throats) but keep it real. Keep it truth. Most of all, share some of your experiences while striving to reach your blogging goals; show us why we should care.

A personality has to do with individual differences among people in behavior patterns, cognition and emotion. So attempt not to simply push a book or an agenda. Even while spreading truth you must be a fisherman of men. Meaning that you must strive to reach people where they are. Sure you may be in a good place now but you wasn’t always here. Perhaps you can share with us how you got here. What made you want to blog? How is blogging effecting your writing style? Life? Are you married? Do you have children? What’s new in your life right now? I mean, besides your new book and the fact that your a totally awesome blogger? Personify your posts so that we get to know a little bit more about the human behind the keyboard.

Blogger Support: Fact or Fiction?

That one follower who likes every one of your posts no matter what it is. Ever wonder if it’s real? Yea, me too.

No, I don’t believe in fake followers. I believe every subscriber is flesh and blood, despite their reasoning for doing so. I do, on occasion, wonder: when you like a post, do you click that button because you really like or agree with the content? Or is it just to show your support for the blog you just followed? And if it’s to show support, do you think it helps or hinders the blog? I mean, you can tell if someone is truly engaged or if it’s just a routine type deal so I’m just wondering. I suppose you can call this a random Sunday thought. (Hey, I like that) Do you engage blogs you follow because you are interested in the perspective or just to give the illusion that you are since you followed them? Personally, since starting this blog I’ve come to enjoy interacting with other blogs. It fulfills my need to be of service and it also helps my own blog because people generally tend to give back, not that I support for this reason at all, it’s just one of the perks to blogging. As they say, “to get support you have to give it” If the people aren’t coming to you, you have to go to the people. But I only like posts I really like or find useful in some way so I’m just wondering. What kind of blog support do you engage in? And which in your opinion is more effective? Are you a silent supporter? That is, you shake your head in approval and shout your, “That’s rights!” into the screen with no intent of seeing your words in print. No matter your method, are you sincere in your support? Is it fact or fiction?