Years and years ago, I got onto Twitter, back when it was tiny. I’m still there. I got onto Facebook too in some very lonely days when I needed to connect with people who already knew me. I’m still there, too. I have accounts on Snapchat and Pinterest and even on Tumblr and that other social network that never seemed to take off. You can probably find my MySpace account somewhere, too. And I have a profile on LinkedIn, too.
I am a fan of social media, even if sometimes it’s hard and distracting and a lot to keep up with. But I find that depending on how my life looks at the moment, one network or the other fits me best. Right now, I don’t have the time or space to keep up with current events adequately to do much commenting on Twitter, and I am on Facebook often, but the algorithm there is making things trickier in terms of my business. Now, though, now I am finding a lot of life – both personally and professionally on Instagram.
Why Instagram? Why Now?
Instagram, if you aren’t familiar with it, is a photo-based platform that is made up – almost entirely – of each user’s original content. Users take photos and write captions for them and then share those photos through the app. There’s something special about the fact that you have to jump through a couple of hoops to share someone else’s content. In my case, it makes me more intentional, less lazy about what I share.
I also find that the sharing of images makes people softer – not necessarily less adamant or assured or confident – but softer, the way seeing someone’s face when we talk to them help us temper the steel of our words just a bit. Right now, as I wander through the new landscape of my life as a writer who is also now a mother, I find that sort of softness better, healthier for me.
Professionally, I also find that SO MANY bookish people are there. This group of lovely folks called Bookstagrammers are there with all things books. They create these crazy stacks of books in particular colors and lay them out with color-coordinated accessories, or they do what I now know are called “flat lays,” where they display a book with a candle or a mug or a plaid blanket and make it look like not just verbal but visual art. I want someone to do that with one of my books.
Finally, the use of hashtags over on Instagram makes it so easy to find your people. I follow lots of book lovers and lots of other writers, and I also follow cross-stitchers because these people get why I love that craft. On our farm account, I also follow women who farm, people who own great pyrenees and basset hounds, photographers that specialize in rural photographer, and gardeners whose veggie spaces make me envious. I found all these folks through hashtags like “bookish” or “womenwhofarm.” With 30 hashtags per post, you can really load up your own posts so people can find you for what you do, too.
Some Basics for Getting Started
I am by no means a social media expert, but here are a few things I’ve learned.
- You need to focus on something, especially if you’re going to use social media professionally. So if you’re going to set up an Instagram account (or multiple accounts), focus on something (or a couple of things) in that account. My Instagram account focuses on writing and all things bookish with occasional photos of Milo and cross-stitch thrown in because I know that I love seeing a bit of the lives of writers I love.
- Use hashtags. Lots of them. They help people who are interested in what you share find you.
- Share a lot more about other writers and their books than you do about your own work. That’s just a fundamental around social media, right? Use the caption to shout out the location and tag in businesses and other writers whenever possible. Share your platform as much as possible.
- But do share your own books, too. Do a flat-lay for your own title once in a while. If you have a great photo of yourself giving a reading, share that, too.
- Be yourself. I am never going to put my bookshelves in rainbow order – although that looks gorgeous – and I simply don’t have time to do elaborate book stacks. But most days, I can pull a book down, add a couple of things around it, and snap a photo before writing a caption that relates to the book and what I’m thinking about it as a writer. Those captions are crucial for me – they allow me to use my best skill to elevate a lesser skill (A photographer I am not.).
If you’re thinking of getting started over on Instagram or if you want to rework your own account to make it a bit more aligned with your writing life, check out this great podcast episode from The Self-Publishing Formula.
And if you’re over there already, comment below. I’ll give you a follow right away.
Happy Instagramming, Folks!