For authors to build their readership in today’s technologically-driven world, it’s important that you have a significant online presence. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are just a few examples of the social platforms that are vital to get a foothold in the world of publishing.
But a surprising addition to that list comes in the form of visual social platform du jour: Instagram. This might seem a tad counterintuitive. How can such a visual-centric platform help in a medium in which words are king? Let me show you how.
Your readers are on Instagram
Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms out there. With an estimated 111.54 million monthly active users, it’s almost as popular as Facebook. And with plenty of innovative and exciting features rolling out in the near future, that number is only set to grow.
With an audience of that size, it naturally spans a diverse cross-section of society. While the majority of Instagram users are aged between 18-29, 33% of them are aged between 30-49 — that’s almost 37 million people! On top of that, the gender balance on the platform is almost split equally, as only 58% of Instagram users are female.
Consequently, Instagram caters to a huge variety of different people, all with different backgrounds and interests. As an author, that means that no matter what reader niche it is you’re writing for, Instagram will have you covered. Your readers are likely to be active on Instagram, making it the perfect platform to reach them where they are already consuming content and browsing for inspiration.
Use hashtags to join the conversation
On Instagram, everything starts with a hashtag. Hashtags are used to create and join conversations, for people to find and follow people and topics they’re interested in. They serve as a hub for people to join a community and see engaging content that they care about.
And your readers are no different. Whether it’s telling people what they’re currently reading (#AmReading) or showing off interesting or unusual places to read a book (#IReadEverywhere), there are plenty of hashtags that bibliophiles use.
So how can this help you as a writer? First and foremost, it helps you engage with potential readers and build your social following. By choosing a hashtag that your readers are using, you can reach out to and connect with them directly. There are lots of book-related hashtags that let you target specific reader demographics. For example, using the #ChickLit, #WomensFiction, and #Suspense hashtags in your posts can all help direct the right person to your profile.
And the efficacy of hashtags is proven. Posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% times higher engagement than those without. There are whole communities of readers on Instagram, and hashtags are your way to join the conversation and help build your author community online.
Flatlays, bookshelves, and book porn
But what kind of photos should you be sharing on your feed? If you’re new to Instagram, you might think that a platform with such a heavy emphasis on photos wouldn’t lend itself to books. But the visual medium actually fits perfectly with the written word.
Every booklover’s Instagram feed is full of what is commonly termed ‘book porn’: carefully curated and high-quality photos of books, bookshelves, libraries, and so on. The hallmark of a true bibliophile’s Instagram feed is a gorgeous flatlay of a pile of books and a mug of hot cocoa.
This kind of stunning visual content really resonates with Instagram users, and your potential readers will find it equally engaging. By doing the same with your Instagram posts, you can not only create beautiful images that your audience will love, but you can also showcase your own work too — especially if you’ve got a gorgeous cover to match.
Use relevant hashtags as mentioned before and spend time creating the perfect flatlay. Joining the community and sharing your work will help build your social following and your community as an author.
Deliver your work straight to your readers
Another form of Instagram content that booklovers love to share are quotes and extracts from their favorite books. Inspirational, beautiful, well-crafted passages that readers love make for surprisingly striking visual content on Instagram.
Whether it’s the nostalgic simplicity of black type on paper, or the vibrant dynamism of a text overlay on a distinctive image, you can’t deny that they look good on Instagram — they transform simple flat text into a veritable piece of art.
As an author, this is perfect for marketing your book outside of a retail environment, in an place where your potential readers are most active. It’s also a great way to get your work seen, again by leveraging hashtags, in a subtle, indirect manner.
Text overlays on Instagram are simple to do. First, select a line or passage that you find particularly moving or poignant. It might work as a standalone line, or it might intrigue the reader. Find a striking image to serve as a background for your quote (Burst offers free images that are pretty dazzling), and then use a free photo editor to add your text overlay.
Finally, be sure to credit yourself in the image or caption so that people know where to find your work. By sharing extracts of your book in a highly-visual style, you can deliver your work to readers in a natural, engaging way.
Instagram is the ideal platform for you to grow your author community and showcase your work. By using visual content as a platform for your writing, you can deliver it in a way that is dynamic and engaging, all on a social media network that plays host to a wide range of your future readers.
Patrick Foster is a writer and marketing expert from Ecommerce Tips. As well as insights into marketing, self-promotion, and business growth, Ecommerce Tips has a range of advice on everything from ecommerce to design. For all the the latest, check him out on Twitter @myecommercetips.
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