Sure, Instagram is a hot platform. Every author, thought leader, and coach should be on Instagram, right? There can be a lot of confusion around picking the right social media platform when you’re putting together a launch plan for your new book. Here’s a secret you’ll hear from Worthy Marketing Group over and over: it’s better to pick one or two platforms and use them well versus using all the platforms not-so-well. Today we’re sharing a bit on one of our current favorite platforms — Instagram. First, we’ll help you decide if Instagram is a good place for you to focus and then we’ll move on to share our favorite tips to get the most out of your ‘grams!

why use Instagram?

Instagram users tend to skew a bit younger than Facebook and also tend to be women. So if the 18-49 female demographic is likely to be interested in your worthy message, then you should probably be on Instagram. In addition to the basic demographics, there are a few niches that tend to be Instagram-focused — food, fitness, fashion, and travel all tend to do well on Instagram. That doesn’t mean that if you aren’t sharing in those niches you should skip Instagram, but it does mean that if you’re writing in those areas, it’s a good idea to head to Instagram — your future fans are likely hanging out there already. Finally, Instagram is primarily visual in nature. If you love good photography and inspiring quotes, then you’ll love working with Instagram. If sharing the latest research in your field is more up your alley, then LinkedIn and Twitter might be more your cup of tea.

set up your Instagram account

We won’t take too deep of a dive into the mechanics of setting up an account. You’ll need a profile photo and a bio. Special note that your bio is limited to 150 characters, so stick to the essential details. You can use emojis in your bio, which can make it a little more fun! And the bio is where you can include the one active link that you are allowed in Instagram, so make sure it’s where you want your followers to go — usually a website home page, book page, or if you’re offering a cool giveaway, the landing page for that.

Instagram recently started allowing users to add clickable hashtags in their bios, but we do not recommend including those. It appears that the bio hashtags are not included in search results, so it won’t help people find your account, and if you include, you may end up sending people away from your profile, exploring the hashtag! You can also use the ‘@’ symbol to tag another account, which we only recommend using if it’s another related account — i.e. you are setting up an Instagram author account and would like to tag your Instagram business account.

Speaking of which, you’ll also need to decide if you want to have a business account or personal account. For most accounts, it makes more sense to set up a business account. This will allow you to see analytical information on how your account and posts are performing and will allow you to add more contact information to your bio. The only real limitation is that Instagram business accounts can only cross-post to the related Facebook business account — so if you like to post to Instagram and cross-post to your personal Facebook page, you can’t do that with an Instagram business account.

what to post on Instagram

Now that you’ve set (or spruced) up your account, it’s time to start posting content and driving traffic to your Instagram profile.

The first thing to be aware of is that Instagram is a visual platform. There’s a certain look and feel that users like to see from accounts that they are following, especially if they are professional or business accounts. It’s totally fine for personal Instagram accounts to post snapshots from your daily life, but when building an Instagram account that is meant to build your personal brand or business, you’ll need to step it up a bit. This means that each image should be well-composed, interesting, pretty, relevant, and contribute to the overall message of the account. Also, think of how your feed looks in grid view. Many users will decide within a few seconds whether they want to follow an account based on glancing at that grid view. Try to find some great examples in your niche and see what’s working.

Some inspiration accounts:

So, if the visuals are so important, what should you post? Well, it depends on what your area of expertise is! First, decide if you will post all photos or mix it up with some inspirational quotes. If you decide to use quote tiles, then try to mix up the photos and posts in a way that will create a cool pattern when looking at your grid. Alternating photos with quotes will be eye-catching, but if you’d like to include more photos than quotes, then perhaps post two photos between each quote tile, which will create a ‘line’ of quotes when viewed as a grid.

Another very good approach is to use a ‘storytelling’ method of planning your post. Identify 5-7 themes that are in alignment with your message and rotate through those themes, so your followers will know exactly what kind of posts they will find on your feed.

Here’s an example of how this might look for you:

  • Monday: Behind the Scenes
  • Tuesday: Education
  • Wednesday: Product
  • Thursday: Testimonials
  • Friday: Community
  • Saturday: Inspiration
  • Sunday: Quotes

This method gives you a lot of flexibility as well as some structure so you’re not always trying to come up with new posting ideas.

And don’t forget Instagram Stories! These are quick, fun, less formal posts that only stick around for 24 hours (unless you save as a highlighted story). Instagram Stories are a great way to share less polished glimpses into your life so you aren’t filling your feed with images that aren’t in alignment with your posting strategy. You can also use tools within Instagram like text, labels, filters, tagging, and fun video effects to ‘build’ your story. We love the work that Marie Forleo’s team has been doing in this area and highly encourage you to check out her stories to see how to maximize this great Instagram feature!

how to make sure people see your posts

Once you’ve started building a great feed, it’s time to start getting followers. Instagram can be a bit slower to build than some other platforms, but the flip side of that is that your followers are more likely to be truly interested in your content. The three main areas to focus on to build a following are posting frequency, tagging/hashtags, and commenting/engagement.

Try to post at least once a day to start with. Once you get the hang of it, you might see more traffic if you up your posting frequency, but it’s better to get consistent first! If you have a business account, you will see when your followers are the most active and it’s a good idea to post in those times. Like Twitter, Instagram tends to be a fairly immediate platform, so it’s great to ‘stick around’ after you post — you’ll likely see the most engagement with your post in the first hour or so. That doesn’t mean you need to sit with Instagram open for an hour after posting, just try to post when you’ll be able to have your phone close by and notifications turned on.

Hashtags are the gold standard of Instagram and key to making sure your profile is easily discovered by Instagram users. It’s worth it to do some research to find out which hashtags are popular in your niche — check out popular accounts and see what hashtags they are using. Try to use 5-9 hashtags in each post. When you start typing in the hashtag, Instagram will tell you how many hits that particular tag has. You want to use tags that have at least 10,000 hits, but not more than 800,000. Too few hits mean nobody is using or searching for that tag, so it won’t help get your posts discovered. Too many hits mean your content will be lost in the crowd.

You can also tag relevant accounts, either in your caption or by tapping on the image. We highly recommend that you only tag accounts that are actually involved in the post — i.e. if it’s a photo of you and a fellow author it’s definitely good to tag that author’s account. Don’t tag in hopes of catching that account’s attention… it’s a bit on the spammy side and generally will not yield results!

One other tag that may raise your discoverability is the geo-tag. This is the ability to tag your location when posting to Instagram. Definitely, make use of this tag when it makes sense!

Your final focus on building your account should be on commenting and engagement. Keep an eye on your posts and try to respond within an hour of someone leaving a comment. Instagram loves to see that with accounts and will reward you by showing your content to more followers and others. When commenting, Instagram doesn’t take short comments (less than three words) into account, so be sure to take a little time to leave a longer, thoughtful comment — not a couple of emoji’s and ‘love’ or ‘agreed’!

If you have the time, spend part of each day commenting on other posts as well. A good strategy is to click on each comment and return the favor and comment on that person’s account. To up your discoverability, pop a couple of the top hashtags in your niche into search and comment on a couple of posts in each hashtag. You’ll be surprised at the traffic that can drive!

time to get started with Instagram!

To review… when considering an Instagram account, it’s important to first figure out if it’s the right place to be for you and your message. If it is, then get started building a feed that will gain you new followers who are interested in what you have to say! Be sure to stay on-message for your brand. If you love to share family pictures with friends, it’s probably a good idea to set up a separate personal account for those posts. Once you’ve got your posting strategy set, then it’s time to focus on a strong hashtag game so that new people are finding your feed. Then create authentic engagement through interacting with your commenters and seeking out content that others are sharing and commenting in turn!

want more?

That’s just the beginning of Instagram! If you’re looking for next step strategies, here’s a few treat topics to research.

  • Products — If you have products that you sell, set up a Facebook product shop. Many accounts will have the option to also tag those products within Instagram with checkout right inside the app. (Here’s an example of product tagging on Instagram from my personal account — must be viewed on the mobile app to work.)
  • More links – Instagram only allows one clickable link in your bio. Try playing with that link — switch it up to match whatever you are posting on. Or take it to the next level by using a third party platform like Linktree to add more links (Here’s how our client, Women for One uses Linktree!)
  • Instagram stories and 10K followers — Instagram stories are a powerful tool. Learn how to leverage and keep building your followers. Accounts with over 10,000 followers are allowed to add links directly to Instagram Stories
  • Advertise — Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, the all-powerful Facebook Ad platform can serve ads on Instagram too!

watch Jayme Johnson discuss the power of Instagram on a worthy wednesday live broadcast

3:40 Jayme talks about author marketing vs book marketing.

4:00 Jyame talks about key points as instagram as a whole for authors and how you can leverage your instagram.

4:46 Jayme talks about the industries/topics that do well on instagram.

5:58 Jayme talks about dividing your business post vs your personal posts on instagram and finding your consistent theme for your instagram.

7:19 Jayme talks about hashtags and how they can help people find your account.

9:30 Jayme talks about the importance of keeping a consistent schedule and posting daily and assigning a theme for your instagram.

10:36 Jayme talks about instagram stories and how it creates great creative posts.

12:55 Jayme talks about securing endorsements for your book.

15:56 Jayme talks about the success of giveaways on social media and different things to give away.

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Instagram tips, tricks and timeline for authors | Worthy Marketing Group Blog