Social Media 101: Instagram Updates

What’s New?

With over 800 million monthly active users (users returning to the application each month), Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world (Dustn.tv). This application is beat narrowly in web traffic by Facebook and Youtube, which you can read about in our recent post. Instagram didn’t earn its massive audience overnight -this social media staple has been around over nine years- so what’s new with Instagram updates since its launch?

Instagram Stories

Following the example of Snapchat, Instagram rolled out its story feature in August of 2016. Almost half the app’s following use this Instagram update daily (Hootsuite).

  • How to use it – You can either tap the camera icon at the upper left-hand corner of your app, or, if you haven’t already added content to your story, the plus (+) sign at the bottom edge of your photo in the story bar. This bar borders the top of your feed. Via either option, a camera view will fill your screen. You can select from several options in a scrollbar at the bottom of this screen, which we break down below:
  • Type is the brass-tacks option among the story features. This is a text-only post that allows you to choose from “Modern,” “Neon,” “Typewriter,” and “Strong” as themes at the top of your Story window. Type excludes the extras available in other Story features including filters, stickers, etc.
  • Music allows users to search from Instagram’s library via query, or by “Popular,” “Moods,” and “Genres.” Once you’ve chosen your song, you cut a clip of your choosing (up to 15 seconds in length for copywrite purposes) and post away. You can also use this feature second-hand in other Story features to give your content the perfect ambience.
  • Live allows you to interact with your audience in real-time. Once you hit “Go Live,” a feed of your viewers’ comments will begin. You can also invite any viewer to join your live -eager fans or fellow authors can really liven up your stream and build great relations between you and your following.
  • Normal is the option your Story camera defaults to. You can tap the circle, center-screen, for a photo and hold for a video. Like the other features, you can add a filter to your photo or video by tapping the sparkling smiley icon at the bottom right hand corner of your screen. After a photo or video is taken, you can add a filter; sticker (this includes location, @mentions tagging other users, hashtags, and even music just to name a few); drawing, and/or caption.
  • Boomerang uses an app that you download externally to access via Instagram. Boomerang is the trendy app that allows you to take a short video and turn it into stop-motion, repeating piece of content. Whether it’s opening your newest book or sipping a cup of coffee, Boomerang can add a modern edge to your Instagram story.
  • Superzoom is a feature that gradually focusses on a face throughout a video, as it is video only. While Superzoom focusses on the targeted face, background objects and people are blurred. You can select from five different filters to add the right mood to your post. Superzoom also excludes the extras available in other Story features.
  • Focus is similar to superzoom in the way that you target a face with your camera as the centerpiece of your content. The major difference between these two features is that you can make Focus a photo or video. Focus also excludes the filters available in superzoom, as well as the extras that other features include.
  • Rewind is another video-only feature that simply plays the content you record in reverse.
  • Hands-Free allows you to record a video without holding down the center button. Otherwise, for the features including video mentioned previously, you must hold down the center button to record. Releasing the button ends the video you’ve started -excluding the Live feature.

The Instagram Story is a great way to generate quick and consumable content for your audience without much planning; one in five Instagram stories get a direct-message response. This feature can tap into the potential audience you’ve been missing all along!

Instagram TV

IGTV was launched June of 2018, a function inspired by Snapchat and adopted by Facebook as well. Essentially, this Instagram update provides a host of channels that cable networks can’t with this innovation. Each show stars a celebrity or person of interest and lasts only minutes. IGTV not only introduces a new set of outlets for you to plug yourself and your book, but you can also create your own channel.

  • How to use it – By tapping the television icon in the upper-right-hand corner of your app, next to the direct message icon, the IGTV feed will open. There you will find a cog; upon tapping the cog a prompt to create your own channel will appear. You can either upload videos from your mobile library or record one from the application. There is no landscape layout to this feature -vertical videos only, making it optimal for mobile use. IGTV is great for users who want to publish videos longer than a minute to their Instagram audience.

If you find yourself struggling with these new Instagram updates, don’t panic. We have an infographic that breaks down the basic functions of Instagram for beginners.

Stay posted for more great information on social media for authors!

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Social Media 101: Snapchat and Instagram Stories for Authors

SnapchatInstagram and Snapchat are popular social media platforms for influencers, especially those who are celebrities or are in the fashion industry. The various Kardashian women are perfect examples of Instagram influencers—follow their accounts to get a rounded grasp of how useful Instagram Stories and Snapchat can be for public figures.

Snapchat and Instagram tend to skew young in terms of who is using these platforms, from teenagers to millennials in their mid-30s. As an author it can be useful to tap into these age groups to cultivate a new audience for your books and/or brand.

How both Snapchat and Instagram Stories work is that you take a photo of something (yourself,your dog, something cool you saw) and it disappears after 24 hours of your posting of it, unlike regular Snaps or Instagram posts. Regular Snaps to friends disappear after they are viewed (if not viewed, then after 30 days); Instagram posts are there permanently unless deleted by the user.

Here are 5 tips on how authors can use Snapchat and Instagram Stories:

Use them for exclusive content. Are you in the middle of writing a new book? Snap or Insta-story a line from a chapter you just wrote. Are you writing a short story for a new anthology? Snap a photo of yourself with one of the other authors or editor with something along the lines of, “Meeting with so-and-so today. Can’t wait to show you our latest project coming soon!” Creating some mystery and suspense will excite your followers.

Snap an immediate and intimate glimpse into your life. We all want to know what our favorite celebrities are doing – and snapping photos of themselves cooking food, out to dinner, enjoying a concert, or reading a book achieve that aspect of making followers feel like they are included in their lives. You can do the same thing as an author by taking a video of a book you are reading or a new recipe you are attempting to cook.

Show off your fun side. With all the funny and cute filters available (making your eyes huge, face swapping, giving yourself dog ears, etc.), showing readers how you can have fun will make you more personable.

Hold a contest. Gain followers on Instagram or Snapchat by holding a contest–with the winner receiving an advanced reading copy of your upcoming book, a box set, or a signed copy of your newest release. Hold the contest only on Instagram or Snapchat, but announce it on your Facebook page or Twitter so that you drive new people to your Instagram or Snapchat usernames. For example, post on Facebook: “New contest on Snapchat that I am announcing in five minutes! Go to [username] to see what I’m giving away this week!”

Engage your followers. Because people can message you back on your Instagram stories or Snapchat stories, post a question: “What are you reading today?” or “What are you doing today?” to engage your followers by having them respond in a message. Respond back so that they can feel that you are engaged with them as well.

Even though Instagram stories and Snapchat are similar, you may find yourself inclined to use one more than the other, and that’s fine. Just make sure to use whichever one you favor on a daily basis so that your followers don’t lose interest.

Read more beginner’s tips for social media here.

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Social Media 101: 4 Reasons Why Buying Followers is a Bad Idea

buying followers
This office dog is confused and upset about why he is seeing so many disturbing spam followers on a Twitter account that is supposed to be family friendly!

A recent article (February 1st) on BuzzFeed said that the Newsweek Media Group has been buying followers and manipulating traffic on some of their websites, and that they are being accused of ad fraud.  The ad fraud part of this story is not my area, but I do have something to say about the other part—buying followers—as it relates to marketing and branding using social media platforms.

There was a time when having 200,000 Twitter followers looked impressive to the naked eye, but those days are long gone.  Now it isn’t very difficult to look through someone’s following on various platforms to find out that many of those 200,000 are spam bots and other kinds of cheap “friends”.  In fact, the people who have more modest numbers of active followers, who engage with them, and build more solid relationships over time, could have the upper hand in social media marketing.

Here are some reasons why buying followers is a bad idea:

  1. The internet is not an alien universe.  The people using the internet and social media are just that—people.  And the rules of engagement apply just as they would at a cocktail party or a business conference.  If you want to grow as an influencer on social media, your audience needs to feel like you are a real person —not a virtual identity with no substance, which brings me to the next point.
  2. Trust is more important than ever. The internet, the very tool you want to use to market your products and ideas, has eroded trust in its own population.  This is partly due to the “bad apples” in the bunch who have figured out how to buy and sell cotton candy entities and canned content.  If someone takes more than a cursory look at who is following you and they find porn (true story) in the form of bots, it will not make a good impression (unless that is what you are selling).
  3. Relationships rule! When there is trust, the chance for a relationship to grow increases.  In a relationship with good communication, the other person believes what you have to say, appreciates your advice and counsel, and may even talk about you with others in a positive way.
  4. Protect the brand. Would you wear dirty clothes to a job interview?  Why sully your brand with ineffective and questionable marketing practices, like buying a fake community?

Perhaps we think that, because we are typing on a keyboard or a phone in our own private spaces, that our anonymity allows us to behave in any manner we want.  Well, it doesn’t.  Companies who engage in buying followers or traffic in order to beef up their potential advertising power may not be doing something illegal, but it is certainly unethical.  If an individual wants to be an influencer, it needs to be clear that community and engagement are a priority.  If bots are all we see, we assume that you aren’t real either.

Check out our other social media blog posts here.

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Social Media 101: Social Media Terms – An Introduction

As brands big and small have discovered, social media is its own animal, especially when it comes to building an online presence. If you are just starting out on social media, or plan to start soon, we have some important social media terms you should know to help you understand how to create an online brand presence and use it to your best potential.

Handle: A word that is only for usernames that use the at (@) symbol. Twitter and Instagram are the two most popular platforms that use them. For instance, our Twitter handle is @mckinneypr, and it is implied that you know to go to twitter.com/@mckinneypr to find us.

Facebook Page: Do you have a Facebook account and wonder what people mean when people ask if you have a Facebook page? It doesn’t sound different, but it is. A Facebook account is your personal account that all your friends are on, while a Facebook page is for your business or creative endeavor. You have to create a page from your personal account, and you can allow people you trust, such as your teen or social media manager, to manage your Facebook Page from their own Facebook account. Your friends also don’t automatically roll over to your Facebook Page-you have to invite them to like it.

Hashtag: What many social media mavens know as the hashtag, and you may know as the pound sign (#). The “#” is used across almost all social media networks. Each time you hashtag something, it becomes a link that you can click on and view other posts by other people with that hashtag, in that social media network. For instance, if you tweet a photo of yourself with an ice cream cone that fell on the ground, you might caption it with “Ice cream #fail.” Click on #fail and it links you to a bunch of other people who tweeted about their own fails.

For a cuter example, American Kennel Club’s Instagram (@americankennelclub) posted a picture of a border collie with the #BorderCollie, which then went into Instagram’s hashtag category of people posting and tagging photos of their border collies.

social media terms hashtag
American Kennel Club tagged #bordercollie on Instagram for all those border collie lovers out there to enjoy this adorable photo.

Organic/Paid Reach: The different ways that people are engaging with your social media posts. Organic reach is when interaction happens naturally, such as your Facebook followers reading your Facebook post about your bad attempt to make non-bake chocolate chip cookies. Paid reach is when you pay to have the social media network reach out to people that aren’t following your page. If you are an author looking for some Facebook visibility on your new thriller novel, you might target paid outreach to users whose interests include books.

social media terms paid outreach
The box that opens up when you are deciding on paid outreach. You can target people by their interests.

Content: Valuable, free information that you provide on your blog that you may promote on social media. For instance, NerdWallet is a company that offers financial tools. Their blog provides useful info on things people want to know, like rewards credit cards, best interest transfers, and banking news.

Check out our blog for another edition on social media terms and what they mean. And by the way, Internet Trolls are not the same thing as the ones hiding under bridges (but they are similar).

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Social Media 101: Instagram as an author tool

Instagram LogoIs your New Year’s Resolution to use a different form of social media other than Facebook or Twitter? Instagram is one of the best social media platforms out there, and one of the most popular among 18-24 year olds and 25-34 year olds, according to Social Media Week. If those age groups are your main audience, then utilizing Instagram is an app you should seriously consider. It’s fun, easy to use, and unless you’re Justin Bieber, less likely to be spammed or “trolled” than outlets like Twitter.

For those who aren’t familiar, Instagram is an app that allows you to post photos and graphics with (or without) a caption. It’s different from sites like Facebook and Twitter because you can only post to it if you have a picture to upload.

If you’re an author, how can you use Instagram to your maximum potential?

Use those hashtags. Like Twitter, Instagram allows you to use hashtags so you can search for terms like #ThrowbackThursday with ease. Participate in trending hashtags to insert yourself into the conversation.

Show us what you’re reading. Why not show your audience what books you enjoy or are currently reading? The hashtag #bookstagram is popular, and if you have a bookshelf that’s as grand as the one in Beauty and the Beast, you can even get involved in the #bookshelfporn tag.

Give us a glimpse of your life. Your readers may love your books, but we want to know who you are, too. If there’s anything going on in your life you’d like to share, like showing off your new lightsaber while in line for the new Star Wars movie, your audience will love you the more for it.

Cats, cats, cats! Since the dawn of time, photos of pets are proven to receive the most likes, hearts, and favorites across all social media. It’s okay to upload a photo of your kitty making an angry face worthy of Grumpy Cat, or your dog trying to lick peanut butter off his nose.

Quote your own stuff. Do you have some lines in your new book that you seriously love? Post them on Instagram as a pretty graphic! You never know who will find your book quote inspirational enough to repost.

What social media platform do you find is the best to use as an author? Tweet us your thoughts @mckinneypr!

 

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