Five of My Best Instagram Tips for Authors
For the past year or two I’ve seen more and more authors go to Instagram to find and connect with their readers. And this makes my Instagram-loving heart so happy!!
I’ve found Instagram to be an incredible outlet for authors to use to grow their platform without having to buy ads. It’s a place where genuine and organic connections can be made - I absolutely LOVE the people I’ve been able to connect with.
So I thought I would give you five of my favorite tips that you can apply today to get your audience growing with people that you want to connect with. I’m not a big fan of just growing numbers for the sake of big numbers. For Instagram (or any social media outlet for that matter) to work and for you to see the results you’re looking for, focus on quality connections rather than quantity.
So let’s dig in!
Talk to One Person
Tell me: is it less intimidating to talk to 10,000 people or to one person? Many of us get freaked out at the idea of putting ourselves out there on social media for the world to see. I get it - I’m the same way. But when you adjust your mindset and focus on talking to one person, everything changes.
Here’s what I mean - you’ve heard me talk about finding your Ideal Reader (I mention it in nearly every blog post because it’s THAT IMPORTANT!) and how it helps you to create intentional content that your readers can connect with. But it’s also an important mental shift for authors.
I run all of my posts through the filter of my Ideal Reader. Would she respond to this? Would she find this funny? Is this something she’s struggling with? When I focus on one person, it makes figuring out what to post so much less intimidating AND it helps me to create posts that my ideal reader WILL respond to and connect with.
We have an amazing course available that will help you identify your ideal reader, create a years worth of content, create a doable (and powerful!) marketing plan, and a personalized process to get everything done in less time. Click here to be notified when our free lesson is available and to learn more about The Mixtus Method.
Put Thought and Time Into Your Captions
There are several schools of thought when it comes to how long your captions should be. Here’s the thing: there isn’t just one way to do captions. My advice is to see what your ideal reader responds to.
I have clients who include rather long, more detailed captions and their readers love it. And I have others where the shorter, the better. This is something you’re going to have to test and play around with.
But the key here is to be INTENTIONAL with your captions. Don’t just slap something together - think about what you want to say and how this will connect with your ideal reader. Include a question for them to respond to and leave a call-to-action like, “click the link in my profile,” or “tag someone who needs to see this.”
It doesn’t add a ton of time to include a well thought out caption. It will be well worth your time.
Avoid Using Pods
I might get some kickback on this one, but that’s OK. If you don’t know what pods are, you’re in the clear!
In a nutshell, pods are groups of people (who are usually your fellow authors or peers) who have all agreed to engage with each others’ posts to hopefully get their posts into more feeds. On Instagram, when the app sees that a post is getting likes, comments, and shares, it thinks, “Oh! People like this! We need to make it more visible for people in the newsfeed!” Because Instagram wants to share content that is relevant to users.
A pod is a way to try to game the system and beat that algorithm so your posts show up in people’s feeds. You might be thinking, “Well, that’s not so bad…” But let me tell you why it’s actually not helping you.
First of all, one thing that we have so little of is time. And wouldn’t you rather spend what precious time you do have engaging with your readers rather than forcing yourself to engage with profiles that might not want to engage with? Pods can be a huge time suck and it takes you away from actually engaging with and connecting with your ideal readers.
If you’re only joining a pod to increase the number of likes or comments on your posts, you’re missing the point of Instagram. “Beating” the algorithm isn’t the answer - connecting with and engaging with your ideal reader (rather than your pod peers) is.
And do we really think we can “outsmart” Instagram? I assure you, Instagram is on to pods. For the sake of the best user experience possible, they want people to use their app in a genuine way. A pod could ultimately do your account more harm than good.
Use Hashtags Correctly
Hashtags are one of the best ways to connect with your ideal reader. I see too many authors using hashtags in their own posts as they just sit and wait for their readers to come to them. But the most powerful way to use hashtags is to reach out to your readers by liking and commenting on posts that use those hashtags.
First of all, knowing your ideal reader will help you narrow down the best hashtags to use, based on the keywords you know they use to find what they are looking for online. When we only use general or wildly popular hashtags, our posts get buried in the mound of other posts using that popular hashtag. So researching which hashtags to use is very important. I have a list of 130+ hashtags for authors that you can download that will get you started.
Once you have a list of hashtags, pick one and put it in Instagram’s search bar. So for example, if I put #novelwriting in the search, a collection of recent and popular posts using that hashtag show up. Scroll through the results and like and comment on posts that catch your eye. And also make a note of related hashtags that are included in those posts.
This simple approach will get you in front of new readers, introduce you to a wider audience, and help you connect with those people you know will enjoy your book.
This is by far the best piece of advice I can give you. When you show up daily, sharing content that connects you to your ideal reader, you will see big results.
Some authors get intimidated with the idea of trying to come up with posts for every day of the week, but it actually takes a lot less time than you might think. I actually have a blog post on how to create a weeks worth of posts in 30 minutes which should help jump-start your daily posts.
Just remember to create compelling, sharable content that they are interested in. A steady stream of great relatable content, consistently posted to your Instagram account is the best way to get more followers that are actually engaged with what you have to share.
I hope you find this information helpful! I love the connection and community that Instagram provides for authors. It’s such a great tool to use as a part of your marketing toolkit. And when you put these five tips to work, you’ll get more out of Instagram on both a practical and interpersonal level.