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  • Writer's picturejessica bruyere

What I've Learned About Instagram

I write this as I’m learning to use Instagram as a writer, so bear with me if you already know how to use the platform for your purposes. When I was creating this post, I thought of all the things I didn’t know about using the platform when I started.

Let’s dive in:

1. Use hashtags wisely.

This is important because you want to target your audience. If you have relevant hashtags, your audience will be more likely to see your post and engage with it, which means more visibility and more book sales, if you're already published or soon to be published. It's also important because there is a limit to how many hashtags you can use, so be selective. You can use anywhere from one or two up to 30. Figure out how many is a good number for you. Another reason to use hashtags wisely is because Instagram has an algorithm, which means it determines where a post will appear in a person's feed based on how relevant your content is to their usual interaction with posts. So if your hashtag is #writing and they're a reader, they're not going to see your post. But if you use the hashtag #bookstagram, they're more likely to see your post.

2. Be careful how often you promote yourself

You want to sell books but you also want your audience to stay engaged, so be sure to post a variety of content. You can post things like a nicely lit picture of your workspace, an inspirational quote, or a giveaway. A quick search will produce many options for content. Just don't flood your page with the same thing over and over again or your audience will get bored and stop following you.

3. Engage with readers/other writers

This goes back to the algorithm, but it's also important for your brand. You want people to recognize your name, even if they can't remember why. If you comment on their post, they might also return the favor.

4. Post often

This doesn't mean you have to post every day but post as often as you can.

5. Post consistently, even if you can’t post often

Try to stay on a schedule of how often you post. Do research and try to find out the best times to post. Personally, I post once a week on Monday mornings. When I do a blog post, I share that on my Instagram as well, so that goes out Tuesday mornings. Whatever you do, stay consistent. I use a reminder on my calendar so I don't forget.

6. Try to target the time you post to the market you’re after

When you research how often and when to post, try to keep your audience in mind. If you're targeting young people, such as teenagers, remember they're probably in school during the day. Adults may be at work but may check during breaks or lunch. Other audiences may have different schedules.

7. Ask questions to get more engagement

Try to ask a question as often as you can, so your audience can engage with your post in the comments. This makes your post more interesting to followers and also gives it more visibility.


A Few More Tips

I just recently discovered Canva, a program that helps you design your Instagram posts. You can use your own photos and add quotes or lists or whatever content you’d like, then save it and post it. It’s a really handy tool. I’m sure there are others out there, but this is the one I’ve discovered so far. You can also use Photoshop, but that's a steeper learning curve.

Be careful with your photography techniques if you’re using your own photos. Make sure the lighting is right for your subject and the mood you want to create. Be aware of your background. You don’t want a messy background if you’ve created the perfect setting for your book cover or your swag. And, of course, be aware that Instagram uses 1x1 dimensions for photos, so careful cropping is a must.

This is what I’ve learned so far. I’ll have follow-up posts as I learn more that I can share with you.

Now get out there and start using Instagram for your purposes! Best of luck!

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