My 7 Instagram Tips for New Authors

Some ask me about using Instagram. I don’t know if I am the right person to ask; I don’t have a lot of followers (if that’s important). But, I managed to put together something for you. First, I think IG is a great place for writers because there is a huge reader and writing community there. But ya’ll know me and if you don’t here’s the thing: I am not just a writer. I am also a wife, student, and now the co-founder and CFO of my family’s new Non-Profit Heart of the Streets Inc (learn more here), which means I value my time so I don’t invest too much time in anything without researching it. I use IG because it works for my business and the support is better than what I receive from Facebook and Twitter. Below, you will find seven tips I put together for new writers who also enjoy using the gram. Hope it helps.

  • Private Page to Business Page

There are three kinds of pages. Private, Public, and Business pages. If you’re an author or businessperson using Instagram, it’s a good idea that your page is a business page. If you are using IG for business and your page is private it doesn’t make much sense. You won’t be able to track to see if your post strategy is working (assuming you have a strategy), and people who want to visit your website to possibly buy your product or learn more about you as a businessperson will be turned off when they run into the private wall. They may not return. Get out of thinking anything on the internet is private. It’s not and making your profile private does not make it “safe.”

Before you make the switch:

  • You will have to connect to a Facebook page. Not your personal page but an actual 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 and go to settings. Click on account. Scroll down until you see the option to create a business page.

If this is your personal account you are switching from, make sure it’s because you’re ready to transform the posts from your personal page into more business savvy content and not just random pictures of your cat. Some say you shouldn’t change your personal page to a business page (because of the cat thing), but I have found I get more engagement and clicks to my website using my personal page so this will depend on where you are already. If you have a separate business page and that page is already lit, by all means use it. As a new author though, you probably are using your personal page for now so you can just turn that page into a business page to make things easier.

Just as author blogs differ from business blogs, I believe author social media pages differ from business, social media pages in some ways. Sharing our interests is part of people getting to know us better and people buy books from people they know and share interests with. The personal page, in my opinion, for new authors is the page people care most about and it makes sense to build on this by transforming it into a business page and publishing content that shows off your persona but is not so personal it’s distracting.

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

Once you’ve decided you are ready, making the switch from a private to a business page will help you to track the actions of your audience and to see which posts are actually reaching people. One of the hardest things to do is to understand what people want. The only way to know is to ask or to track behavior/pay attention to actions.

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 but only if your page is a business account) you can see not just how many likes you got, but how many people shared your post,  viewed your profile, or clicked on your website link. These are the things you want to pay attention to because it shows you what people are most interested in. The thing about any business social media page is that it differs from pages that you are only using to connect with family members or hang out. On those pages, likes and shares don’t mean much 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 you.

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

Engagement = Likes / Comments

____________

Followers

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shared
  • Saved to collection
  • Profile Visits
  • Reach (Impressions)

My personal testimonies are a favorite for readers. Although the first picture got more likes, the second picture did just as well if you look at the other components. The first picture was saved six times and four people visited my profile. The second picture got three saves but two shares. This tells me my audience really enjoys the testimonies, but there are other things to see…

There is so much to see here, where the views came from, reach, profile visits, website clicks, e.g. And while I did not get new followers, six people did take action (viewed my profile or went to my website) which is what every authorpreneur wants! Other things you can track include:

Chicago (my hometown), Atlanta, New York, Houston, and Charlotte are where the bulk of my support comes from. I am happy to see ATL at the top since I live in Georgia and to 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.

  • Your IG Bio

I just changed my bio again because I wanted it to reflect what I do and what I offer. Rather than my usual: Author, Blogger, Poet, I wanted to be specific. With limited characters, this isn’t easy. I decided on:

“I write Historical Fiction novels and novellas, Inspirational Non-Fiction, and Poetry | Restoring Black Historical truth for the freedom of all people.”

Following this is a link to my website (see pic) directing people to the specific page I created for this purpose. Also, I do not (at this writing) have many followers but that doesn’t matter to me much if those numbers don’t match the support. I have an arrow pointing to publisher because under the business account you can choose what best represents your brand. Notice I have an arrow pointed toward my highlights. Once you create a story you can add it to your highlights if you want to keep it at the forefront of your page. My highlights include my book signing pictures and events. This helps people get a feel for the work I do. Lastly, notice the call to action button (Email), which further encourages people to take action. What I want is to add a buy button as well.

It may not seem like a big deal to put all this work into an IG profile, especially with such limited space but as authors we are the whole package. Everything must represent who we are.

  • Use Sharp, HQ Images

Instagram’s focus is on photos so if the pictures you’re posting look grainy and pixelated it won’t attract many readers. Try to use sharp, high-quality images in your post. 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 9 posts. Can someone understand who you are and what you offer by these posts alone? I’ve been doing this (looking at my last 9 posts) and it has been a helpful reminder to publish content that is relevant to my books or services or who I am as a person. People will see the image before they see the caption so it’s important that the image speaks first.

  • Include Text with Images

Make good use of the caption area where you can add text. It is a good idea to always use text when posting images on Instagram. I have noticed that some celebs don’t do this, but that’s because they’ve already built their audience. 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 text to explain the images you post. It doesn’t have to be long and fancy. Something as simple as a sentence is good. Nothing to say? Just use hashtags. Anything is better than leaving it blank.

  • 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.

Website Link or Linktree in Bio

Where are you directing people to? What do you want people to do once they’ve seen your post? Do you want them to like, comment and 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. As stated before, social media should not be the end of the road. If you’re trying to sell books, you should be directing people to your author website, the place where they can 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 the site alone, you can create a landing page with buttons specific to where you want people to go. Chances are you have more than one link to promote which means you can do one of two things:

  • You can use linktree to compile link buttons
  • You can create your own version landing page on your website

If you don’t have a website, I recommend Linktree, which allows you to promote more than one link at a time. When people visit your site they can choose where they want to go. You can also see how often people are visiting your sites. I used linktree for awhile and it’s excellent. What I love most is being able to see how many clicks each button gets and it increased traffic to my author website. I only recently stopped using it  because I have a website.

If you have a website of your own, it doesn’t make much sense to use linktree unless you use the paid version. While recommended, using the free version of linktree can compromise your branding a bit. How so? Linktree, is all over their free version so it was in the URL in my Instagram bio, at the top of the landing page, and at the bottom of the landing page in logo form. To get the best out of Linktree would mean using the paid version but if you have your own website (that you are paying for) it may be a good idea to use your site. This saves money, points people directly to your website, and promotes you and not Linktree. You can also get creative with your link. I used ecreads as the special page for my IG. Something simple and to the point. (If you’d like to check out what I’ve done, visit my IG page and click on the link. You won’t find this link just by going to my website since it’s created specifically for my ig page).

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.

The only time your IG shouldn’t have a website link is if you are not using it for business and are just on there to socialize and hang out.


To summarize:

  • Switch your account from Private to Public and then create a Business page. Change up your content to reflect your business profile and use the metrics you see overtime 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 hashtags strategically, researching the ones that best apply to the kind of writer you are
  • Include the link to your website in your bio or use linktr.ee for multiple links
  • Use sharp, high-quality images
  • Use text to describe images
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Be Yourself on Social Media

Social media has created an environment where people who live in their mother’s basement can post pictures of traveling the world so that the world will never know they’re homeless. Couples can smile and cuddle under the flash of a Selfie while sleeping in separate beds. Writers are encouraged to show snapshots of their lives so readers can see the real but is it? Real? We want people to Like Us and Follow our life but most of what you see online is superficial. Just because you don’t see much of me doesn’t mean I am unhappy. You don’t see me posting lots of pictures of my life because I actually have one. Not many pictures of my husband because we are truly happy so I don’t feel obligated to prove it. I’ll post them when I feel like it. No images of food because I cook in real life. There’s nothing wrong with sharing a piece of yourself online but it does not define who you are. If you’re not into getting personal on social media that doesn’t mean you’ve doomed a failure. Just because they (I still don’t know who they are) say you have to tell us what you had for dinner last night doesn’t mean that you must if that’s not who you are. My social media of choice is Twitter but only because I like it. I Tweet and Retweet when I want to and to be honest I’m not thinking about how it makes me look. I’m not thinking about what people think of me, I’m just doing what I enjoy doing. The point is that the uniqueness we all talk about is important to have is really simple. It just means that you are being yourself. This automatically sets you apart because this “Yourself” is different from anyone else. Not even Twins have the same fingerprint (and as a Twin I can tell you we can be very different. Tracey and me are two different people who happened to be born five minutes apart). If the expert says I should post more about my favorite food, I get it. Try and be relatable but is this me? No, it’s not me because EC does not talk about food. My point is that advice must be filtered or it will have you behaving in ways that aren’t you. I am not saying not to be strategic but that you can still be successful without getting extremely personal if that’s just not you. If you remember nothing else remember this: in a world of sameness you’re either different or invisible so you may as well just be yourself because YOU are unique and beautiful and all the words I didn’t say.

5 Mistakes Authors Make on Social Media

Wow, this is absolutely on point.

A Writer's Path

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by Michael Cristiano

I thought writing a novel was the hard part. I thought endless drafting and editing and proofreading involved the most work when it came to being a writer.

I was wrong. My debut novel has been on sale for a little less than a month, and I came to the conclusion very early on in its release that writing it was the easy (and far more enjoyable) part. Why? you ask.

Marketing. Marketing is a hard and seemingly endless process. Why is it so hard?

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Before The Week Ends: Quality Connections

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It’s no secret. I pretty much blog like a madwoman so I actually have days I take off, which is the weekend pretty much with only very few exceptions. And although I should really be cleaning right now, I’d like to share something before we dig in for the weekend. Something that is on my heart, and that I also think is very important both for Indie Authors as well as anyone running a business or trying to run a business. This subject matter is concerning social media connections. And as always there is the disclaimer that this post is based on my experience and is not necessarily professional insight. For the record.

I would be very careful playing the numbers game with social media. Obviously you want more interactions, but don’t get frustrated, embarrassed, or beg if you do not have lots of Twitter followers, IG followers (I am staunchly against that app where they promise you thousands of followers. I want my connections genuine)  or Facebook Likes. The reason I would not force these connections is because you just don’t want a whole bunch of people following you, but what you want is quality connections. By quality, I mean people who could really help you in achieving your goals. What is 4,000 Twitter followers worth when 3,000 of them are family members and friends? Don’t get me wrong, family is very supportive but they are also a conflict of interest. Since they’ve known you since forever and they love you so much you cannot count on them to really be honest about your work because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They also want to see you make it, which is great, but you need more than mom and dad on your bandwagon to really make some noise.

You need a community of support that is more than just your family members. What is 2,000 email subscriptions worth when you only have a 2 percent open rate? Open rate, it’s the percentage of people who actually open your emails. This is easy to track using Mailchimp. I don’t have a lot of subscriptions to my email list personally and I love that. Not that I do not want it to increase, but I want it to increase with quality and value. For now, I’m OK with not having many email subscribers (by subscribers I do not mean to this blog, I mean to my personal email list). I enjoy the close knit family I have currently signed up (by family I do not mean blood related, I mean those who support me. I call them family because they are. If you signed up, you would be family too. Not shameless plugging, just saying) because the open rate of the emails is still in the 30-40 percentiles which are great for only about fifty or so subscriptions. This means that most of the people who are signed up are actually opening and reading the newsletter as opposed to 1,000 subscribers of which only ten are engaged.

This same thing can be true of social media across the board. I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook and I don’t get overly excited about the numbers. The reason I don’t get overly excited is because though people are there and obviously find something worthy because they like the page consistently, the interaction is low. This I can compare to the email list. If my Facebook Page was an email list I would only have a few opens. For this reason, Twitter is my favorite place right now. It’s my favorite place not because I have tons of followers. It’s my favorite because the interactions are high. People are actually engaging and the people following me are either readers, authors, editors, or professional business people (Note to Authors: Careful befriending JUST authors. Authors are not going to buy your books, readers are).

We live in a world where people ravish in the idea of being Internet Famous. But  what we have to understand is that bragging is not branding. Having lots of followers and likes doesn’t mean anything if they are not coming from the right sources. What you want, more so than numbers is quality connections in an ethical / professional atmosphere. This means you want to leave what your sister in laws baby cousin Tracey did at the club last night out of your business accounts.

Curiouser Editors 20 Fresh Social Media Tips for Authors

Check Out Curiouser Editors Excellent Social Media Tips! I just used one for my IG bio. Emojis does make it look way cooler lol.

  1. Pin posts to Twitter, your Facebook page, and your Facebook group (you do have your own Facebook group, right? Because I’ve only been preaching about this for a million years, give or take). Ensure the pinned post has some type of opt-in for a freebie so they’ll subscribe to your emails. If you’re pinning a post, then it should tell them to do something that somehow benefits you and them.

  2. Add emojis to your Instagram bio to catch attention. I like to use the pointing finger right above my freebie opt-in so that it’s the first thing they’re directed to. Use emojis in your posts too!

  3. Update your LinkedIn title with stronger keywords. Your title shouldn’t say, “Jane Doe, Author.” It should say, “Jane Doe, Romance Author of [Title], Part-Time Nurse, Full-Time Mother, Oil Painter.” For example, mine says, “President of Curiouser Editing, Author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist, Editor, Writer, and Coach.” If you need more help with LinkedIn, I highly recommend The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business.

  4. Like as many Instagram photos as you can under relevant hashtags (#bookstagram, #bookish, #indieauthor, #writercommunity, #writerlife, #bibliophile, #amwriting, #amreading) to gain more followers. I like to time myself for ten minutes so that I’m not spending a ton of time on it, but I’m still seeing results.

  5. Use the WordSwag app to create visually appealing photos with text for Instagram (or Twitter/Facebook). Foundr Magazine swears by this in their freebie PDF, How to Get Your First 10,000 Instagram Followers.

  6. Buy the Followers + for Instagram app to keep track of your stats as well as discover who’s unfollowing you. This is very helpful if you suddenly lose an influx of followers—why did they unfollow you? Too many posts? Ugly photos? Irrelevant photos? If you’re an author who writes paranormal novels, then posting about politics 24/7 might turn them off.

  7. Add a Hello Bar to your website. You can use this for email subscription, to announce your book’s release, or to advertise a course.  

  8. Add your blog subscription opt-in to your Facebook page. You’d be surprised how many people forget to do this.

  9. Ask questions on Facebook and Instagram for better engagement. Every time I ask a question, I get a couple dozen comments on Instagram, sometimes a few dozen. Make sure that it pertains to writing or publishing in some way.

  10. Try live streaming on Facebook to interact with your readers.

  11. Add images to your tweets to get more retweets.

  12. Try using Facebook’s carousel option to promote your book.

  13. Repost, repost, repost. Not everyone will see that you posted your book’s 99¢ sale.

  14. Tag people you talk about in your post. Tweeting a Medium article from Positive Writer about free Createspace books? That’s three tags right there: @Medium, @ADDerWorld, @Createspace. Posting an Instagram photo of three books you’re reading? Tag the authors. Posting the link to your blog on your Facebook page where you mention different writerly websites? Tag them.

  15. Add a location to Instagram posts. For example, if you’re at Barnes & Noble in Dallas, add that as a location.

  16. Add a cover photo to your Twitter account that shows off your book specifically. I’m a huge fan of The Thatchery’s cover photos, so consider hiring someone to make you one that you can use on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Check them out here.

  17. Reply to every single person who follows you and thank them for the follow. I’ve found that this works better than sending them a direct message, as it comes off kind of spammy. Also, in your tweet, don’t be afraid to tell them about your book and engage them in conversation.

  18. Connect with authors in your field by using the Advanced Search option on LinkedIn. For example, if author Damien Taylor wanted to find more fantasy authors, all he has to do is type in “fantasy author” in his keyword advanced search to connect with them.

  19. Post at the right times, please. All it takes is a little bit of research. According to Buzzsumo’s article on Facebook engagement, posts published between 10:00 p.m. and midnight get the most engagement. I’ve also noticed that 2:00 p.m. is a great time to post on Facebook and Instagram, while author Damien Taylor has seen some serious engagement at 3:00 a.m. Wow!

  20. Directly embed videos to your Facebook page rather than posting your YouTube link. It gets better engagement. < I have also down this one in the past. She’s right, and it looks better too.