I’m zooming in specifically on Instagram today because a) I know Instagram pretty well and b) y’all asked for it! I know a lot of you aren’t writers, but anyone with a service or product can benefit from the six items below.
Before we get started, let’s just get one thing straight: Instagram will only be fun if you already enjoy using it and feel like it helps you. If you have an obligatory account but secretely would rather just stick with other social media platforms, you do NOT have to be on Instagram. I know it was once said that you need to be everywhere all the time, but your social media should not take time away from creating what it is you want to be paid for.
So if you’re still committed to Instagram and want to make it work for you, enjoy these ideas:
Research Your Hashtags
Okay, hashtags. Why so many and just why in general? Hashtags are like keywords, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the hashtags used within the community.
I’m not an expert, but I know where to learn about the latest hashtags and how they jive with my feed. I’ve also taken note on hashtags that my community likes to use as inspiration for their feed. Here are a few specific for writers:
- #WriterCrushWednesday—a great way to spotlight someone you admire in the community
- #1LineWed—a quick opportunity to share a quick line from your WIP
- #WritersLife—You can tag photos of you experiencing the highs and lows of being a writer.
- #WritersofInstagram—basically putting an occupation in front of “of Instagram” is a way to be seen in your community
Instagram makes it easy to find new hashtags that are relevant to your audience. Type in some guesses to populate all the variations of that keyword and how many people have used it. Obviously the higher the usage, the better.
Now, where do you put all these hashtags? You can put them right after your initial text (with or without a divider) or in a separate comment. As of yet, I’m not sure which way is better or more effective, but you have those options. To learn more about hashtags, use Pinterest to learn more about hashtags that work well for your audience.
Write a Killer Blurb About Yourself
Just like any platform, it’s good to have a good intro to who you are and what you do. You don’t have a lot of room, but make sure you mention who you are and what you do. This helps your audience to quickly learn if they want to follow your feed or not. This is also a great place to add a URL for your main website.
Also, ensure your profile establishes if your page is purely personal or slightly more professional. Sometimes people will only follow because they hope to get something out of it, like freebies, giveaways, advice, or inspiration. Your quick bio could say, “I post about my books, my podcast, and my dog.” If you already have a product for sale or a WIP, here’s an easy place to brag about it, too.
Here’s my profile blurb. Can you tell what I plan to post on my Instagram? Are there ways you can use your profile to stand out from the others in your community?
Try Tactics from Accounts You Admire
Depending on what you’re selling or promoting, I may not be able to give you clear-cut insight. Well, unless you message or comment at me directly. Thus, it pays to pay attention to other accounts and what you like about them. As you look through their feed, consider why you follow an account. What makes you interested in commenting or buying their product or services? Write a list of specific things and consider how you can do the same without blatantly copying them.
Here’s an example. I love posts about animals interrupting creatives. I’m talking cats on keywords, cats sitting on sewing projects . . . you’re seeing a theme, right? It’s just cute and so true to life. This break from the professional shows me that the writer has similar roadblocks in their life. They’re being real and comical with me. I’m much more likely to be invested in people who are genuine rather than those trying to be 100% professional
Even though I don’t have a pet (yet), I can tap into that sense of community—that I go through the same ups and downs. This also reminds me that it’s okay to mix the personal/untouched moments of life with my professional moments.
Here’s another tactic: tagging people. Please give credit where credit is due and brag about the services or products you’re using in your photos. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s an easy way to get noticed. Many small businesses will regram your photos and BOOM—a bunch of people interested in you. Make this a constant effort and you’ll quickly make friends in the community who appreciate your spotlights on their accounts. Social media is all about good karma.
There’s no one right way to appease your target audience. Sometimes being creative or unique is what it takes to find your tribe. Therefore, it pays to observe and add your unique voice through your posts.
Use Insta Stories
I’ve heard it said that Insta stories is basically a prettier but shameless version of Snapchat. You can use Insta Stories to do a couple of things:
- highlight announcements
- share more of your personality
- share your take on a topic that is important to your audience or community
- draw attention to your most recent social media or blog posts
- show behind the scenes insights behind your craft
Insta Stories are still fairly new, but they’re a fun addition to Instagram that you can take advantage of. If you’re worried people aren’t seeing your posts, you can’t go wrong with having your Insta Stories on the very top of the screen.
Participate in Monthly Challenges
A fun way to take part in your ideal community is to take part in monthly Instagram challenges. Basically, someone in the community will create a challenge where you post a picture every day based on a prompt. You can share a screenshot of the challenge, then use the hashtags so other people can find you. I generally get a lot of interaction when I participate and share fun stuff about myself.
Here’s a few examples of what I’ve done:
- #StretchRevolution challenge: I and thousands of other people did a specific yoga pose every day for 30 days. It was for a contest, but I made a lot of great yoga friends.
- #WriteWeMay: A challenge where I could share more about my current writing projects and other aspects of #writerslife.
- #MarchCreateParty: This was a general challenge for all kinds of creatives to share more about their hobbies or craft.
- #AuthorLifeMonth: Yet another challenge where I could share about my life as a writer.
- #BooktoberFest: This is more of a nerdy book challenge where anyone who likes books could participate.
I usually find out about these challenges once someone creates one or a friend is participating. If you search for monthly Instagram challenges in Google Images or Instagram, you’ll see a lot of examples to try. It’s also helpful to make an Instagram post asking your followers about any current challenges. You’ll be surprised at how people are more likely to respond if you’re asking for help or advice. When in doubt, create your own!
One final note: Instagram challenges are great if you’re looking for ways to create community-related content. If posting every day for a challenge seems too stressful or unnecessary, then don’t feel obligated to participate
Create Actionable Content to Increase Engagement
Instagram is likely not your end goal, because you likely use social media to get people to interact with you on your website. That’s where you’ll likely make money, right? So, while you’re trying to build up your Instagram presence, realize that it’s not as important as your true end goal.
If you want people to go to your site, then post site updates on your feed. Regularly remind them of what’s going on over there and make it easy for them to get there.
Make sure these posts stick out from your other content so people don’t scroll by without reading your content. An example would be putting text on your image with words like “Big News,” “Giveaway,” “Update,” or “Recently on the Blog.” This helps viewers know the accompanying text is just as important and won’t just scroll by. If I highlight a blog post, I put up a Pinterest-friendly image that has the title on the image.
Also, if you’re holding a contest or giveaway, don’t be afraid to post daily reminders. Don’t assume that everyone will see your first post and enter appropriately. To catch everyone and get enough participants, it’s good to remind them every day until it closes. You may find it annoying and repetitive, but your followers will likely not feel that way.
I’ve got a bit more to say about Instagram, so stay tuned! I’ll be talking more about building a community, since it’s so important but also a time-consuming goal.
In the meantime, let me know if I missed anything and have further questions about what I shared today. What do you hope to achieve with your Instagram account? Share away, friends!