7 Ways to Make the Most Out of Instagram

Author Angela J. Ford crafted seven super helpful tips on Instagram marketing—with a focus on author branding! Hooray! It's a pleasure to have her here, and I hope you all will find these tips to be enjoyable.

Instagram is abuzz with users right now, and I’m sure you’re starting to wonder, Is Instagram the new Facebook? Is it the place to be for my business or author brand?

Well, you’re in the right place. I was wondering the same thing after I released my book in 2015. My thought was, how can I use Instagram to sell more books?

First off, it’s a bit hard to track how Instagram is working for your brand. But your number-one goal on Instagram should be to gain exposure and build relationships with a network of customers who are only on Instagram.

Instagram is all about visuals, no words, just pretty pictures, which is a huge appeal if you like pictures—but how do others’ pictures help you?

Here are some quick tips to make the most out of Instagram.

Fill out your bio and add a link to your site

Instagram bios are short and sweet and to the point. Don’t forget to add a link back to your site. This can be to a specific page on your site or to an offer. Use emojis that have to do with your brand as well (like the book emojis).

Post pictures consistently

You don’t have to post every single day, but it helps build awareness. At the very least, post once a week and work up to posting every day. Since there isn’t a good tool for scheduling Instagram posts, you’ll actually need to get on your phone and post a picture every day.

If you use Hootsuite to schedule your social media, you can also schedule Instagram from there. (We Buffer advocates are holding our breath for Instagram scheduling!)

Pro Tip: Some experts recommend posting two to three times a day, with late afternoon and after dinnertime being the best times to post.

Post pictures that fit with your target market’s lifestyle

The kind of photos you post should highlight lifestyle. For example, my Instagram feed focuses on my book, not digital marketing tactics. I post pictures of my book on the shelf, with my coffee mug, outside at the park, and with other books. Need more ideas? Look at the accounts your target market follows and check out some of their popular photos.

Use relevant hashtags with every single post

What are relevant hashtags? It takes a bit of research. Again, take a look at your competitors or profiles like yours and see what hashtags they are using. You want to use hashtags so people can find you in the search bar. If I search for #authorsofInstagram, your photo will show up.

Make a list of at least 11 hashtags you can use in your posts. (Instagram allows up to 30 tags on your own post.)

Here’s a time-saving tip: I keep mine in the Notes section of my iPhone so I can just copy and paste them into Instagram instead of typing them in every single time.

Here are some of our book-centric favorites:

    #bookish

    #bookstagram

    #instabook

    #authorsofinstagram

    #amwriting

    #amreading

    #bibliophile

    #booknerdigan

Gain more followers by following others

Want more followers for your account? Spend some time following and commenting on accounts in your target market. Most of the time, they’ll follow back, but some don’t. Don’t worry about it—just ensure you’re following accounts you actually like.

Have a budget for this? Hire a Growth Geek to grow your Instagram for you. (http://www.growthgeeks.com/gig/aaron-irmas-instagram-growth-engine)

Join an Instagram challenge to gain inspiration for your photos

If you’re not sure what to post or need inspiration for your daily posts, you may want to consider joining an Instagram Challenge. Every day you’ll post a different kind of picture according to the challenge theme. For example, on day one post a book you’re currently reading; day two, post a book with a candle, etc. Each challenge has a hashtag so you can see what each of the challenge participates are posting. Hop on Instagram and look up #bookishchallenge for more!

Take engagement to the next level by inviting followers to take action

Want more interactions on your pictures? Ask for them. For example, if you’re posting a fun picture of your book, ask people to tag a friend who should read it. If you have a silly meme or inspiring quote from your book, ask them to double tap, or simply ask a question: “What are you currently reading?” or “Did you enjoy The Martian too?” or “Anyone have tickets to see the new Star Wars?”

Most importantly, have fun!

What tips do you have for making the most out of Instagram?

Angela J. Ford is the author of the The Four Worlds Series and a digital marketing strategist. She’s passionate about helping other creatives do more work they love by helping them out with marketing. You’ll find her with a thrilling read and a cup of coffee. Connect with her on Instagram @aford21 or visit her author website here.