How Authors Can Use Instagram Stories
I have to admit, I was a little leery of Instagram Stories when it was released a few months ago, but it has very quickly become one of my favorite things about Instagram. It’s a great way to get to know your readers as well as bringing you, your books, and your brand to life. And it’s a lot of fun!
If you’re familiar with Snapchat, Instagram Stories is basically the same thing. What’s great about it is that your Instagram Story is only available for 24 hours and then it disappears. So if you’ve ever been concerned about posting too often on Instagram, no need to worry anymore. Stories don’t show up in the feed so readers will make a conscious effort to see what you share, which is very cool.
I’m going to walk you through how to create an Instagram Story, and then give you 11 ways to use it to jump start your approach.
Instagram Stories show up at the top of your home feed and only shows Stories from the people you follow.
You can also access Stories by visiting their account. If they have a Story available, you’ll see a red ring around their avatar. Click and it will take you to their Story.
HOW TO CREATE AN INSTAGRAM STORY
1. Tap the + sign on the top lefthand side of your screen.
2. This will allow you to either take a picture or a 10 second video. To take a video, hold down on the button at the bottom of the screen and you’ll see a red ring appear as it’s filming. When the red ring reaches the top of the button, your 10 seconds are up (which you don't have to use all of). To take a picture, simply tap the button.
3. Another fun thing is that you can add some text or writing on your picture or video to give additional information or to just have fun with it. You can move the text around by simply dragging your finger to where you want it to go.
4. You can also save your photo or video.
5. Click the checkmark at the bottom when you’re ready to post. Easy peasy!
So now that you know how to use Instagram Stories, let’s talk about what you can post. That’s probably the biggest intimidation, right? What on earth do you share?!? I’ve put together 11 ideas that you can put to practice right away.
HOW AUTHORS CAN USE INSTAGRAM STORIES
1. Behind The Scenes Peek
Believe it or not, you live a very interesting life to your readers. Think about it - if you could peek in on your all time favorite author (hello, Ernest Hemingway!) and see how they live and work, it would be fascinating! The same goes for your readers. Give them a peek into your life - share your favorite place to read, how your cat likes to sit on your desk while you work, the collection of papers that have taken over your desk. Play around with it!
2. Take Them With You
If you’re going to a conference, on a research trip, to meet up with other writers - take your readers with you! Make them feel like they are right there with you by simply adding a video or picture to your Story.
3. Share Your Other Interests And Hobbies
Remember, you don’t need to only talk about books and writing with your readers - connect with them on other hobbies and interests. Share pictures of other things that you do: maybe it’s cooking, baking, knitting, woodworking, cars, DIY projects, gardening, crafts for your kids - the possibilities are endless.
4. Exclusive Sneak Peeks
Instagram stories would be a fantastic way for you to show you unboxing your new book to reveal your new book cover, or to show a giveaway, giving you a great opportunity to talk about your book launch. Remember, the stories only last 24 hours so that exclusivity factor is a great way to engage your readers.
5. Goofing Around
Letting your readers see who you really are is not only fun for them but also gives them a way to identify with you in a more personal way. Take them along as you play or goof around with your kids, your pets, on your walk around the neighborhood, if you see something fun or funny - it’s all up for grabs!
6. Your Writing Progress
Share with your readers what you’re working on or where you are in the process of writing. Maybe ask for their feedback on an idea, a possible name for a character, settings, etc. You don’t have to give it all away, but let them in on what you’re working on - it will make it all the more intriguing!
7. Announce Your Latest Blog
As you’re working on your blog post, take a picture or video to let them know a new post will go live shortly.
8. Your Favorite Places
The next time you’re out and about, share with your readers some of your favorite places. Your favorite coffee shop, restaurants, fun shops - show them around!
9. How To Do Something
One of my favorite pages to follow is called What’s Gaby Cooking. Every Friday she shows how to cook something and she takes questions. It’s really fun and she’s a master at creating content for Snapchat and Instagram. So take a cue from her and show your readers how to do something - maybe it’s your favorite way to make coffee, how to make your Grandma Betty’s banana bread, how to do a certain craft - whatever it is, have fun with it!
10. Find Out What Others Are Doing
The best way for you to get better at Instagram Stories is to see what others are doing. Get inspired by their Stories and see how you can incorporate them into your own approach.
11. Direct People To Another Social Media Outlet
If you're getting ready to do Facebook Live or if you are going to be on Snapchat doing a Q&A, direct your Instagram connections there with a Story. It’s a great way to get your Instagram followers involved while also creating awareness and driving traffic to your other social media outlets.
I’m telling you, once you try it a few times and get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun! If your ideal reader is a younger demographic and you haven’t used Snapchat yet, Instagram Stories is a great way to get a “feel” for that without jumping straight into a new platform.
Now I want to hear from YOU! Are you using Instagram Stories? What are your thoughts? Who are some people you follow that do a great job? Let us know in the comments below!