Using Stories to Promote Your Book on Instagram

Instagram is a popular social media platform for influencers, including authors and readers. Using every feature the platform has available, including Stories to promote your book, can be very helpful to your campaign. Start by following celebrity and influencer accounts, as well as fellow authors, to get a rounded grasp of how useful Instagram Stories can be for public figures.

Instagram tends to skew young in terms of who is using the 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 Instagram Stories work is that the photo you post will disappear after 24 hours of your posting of it, unlike regular posts. Instagram feed posts and Reels are there permanently unless deleted by the user. They are good to use for more temporary ideas you have that will not stay on your feed forever.

Using Stories to Your Advantage as an Author:

Use them for exclusive content. Are you in the middle of writing a new book? 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.

A personal glimpse into your life. We all want to know what our favorite celebrities are doing – and posting 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 your new writing desk setup.

Hold a contest. Gain followers on Instagram by holding a contest–they have to follow you to enter and the winner will receive an advanced reader’s copy of your upcoming book, a box set, or a signed copy of your newest release. 

Engage your followers. Try posting a question or hosting a poll. “What are you reading today?” or “What’s coming up on your TBR?” will 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 and begin to form personal relationships with your readers.

Using Stories to promote your book on Instagram is yet another aspect to using the platform to your full advantage. Start out by posting a few personal things from your week, and see how your readers respond. You may find yourself discovering a new outlet to engage with your followers and potential new readers.

Using Reels to Promote Your Book on Instagram

Over the past few years, it has become clear that Instagram is no longer just a photo sharing platform. Reels are one of the best ways to grow on Instagram, but they can be very overwhelming for those who are not familiar with creating video content. Here are some ideas you can use to promote your book using Reels. 

Following Trends

Did you know that you can follow hashtags? If not, I suggest you do that now, starting with #BookTok and #Bookstagram. Bookstagrammers and authors use these hashtags to showcase content around books and writing. 

Often there are fun and easy Reels trends on these hashtags that require minimal filming and editing. Monitoring the type of content users are enjoying in these bookish spaces and tailoring the content specifically to your book will give you a bit of an edge.

You do not have to dance or point to make a Reel that performs well, but you do need to show up consistently with valuable content.

Check out this one from a fantasy author promoting his book with the use of quotes here.

General Tips and Tricks

Think of Instagram Reels like a business card. The point is to spread the content far and wide, not overloading your viewer with too much information. 

Do not introduce yourself. In the Reels format, you just do not have the time. This also might not hook your viewer. Instead, lead with educational or entertainment value and have an optimized profile to explain who you are to convert viewers to followers. 

Try using stock footage. We get it, you don’t always have the time or energy to film with your face on camera. Did you know you can find faceless stock footage online to use in your Reels? For example, grab a stock video of someone flipping through book pages (make sure you read the fine print and that it’s free use), and put quotes from your book over the footage. Simple!

Include a call to action. A call to action is an essential part of any content you make that has a purpose. People will not always engage with your content in the way you want them to unless you tell them how to do so. If you want people to comment or follow, tell them! For Reels, an excellent call to action in the caption is to comment a specific word, alerting you to DM them a link or a freebie.

Grab our free e-guide to social media marketing for information on all social platforms.

Getting Attention on Social Media

Getting attention on social media can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. With millions of people on each platform, how do you get the right people to see your content? 

Hashtags

Many people think hashtags are a thing of the past, but they do still have their place on many social media platforms. The landscape around them, however, is constantly changing and every site tends to leverage them slightly differently. It can be very confusing if you’re new to social media or coming back from a long hiatus to find everything has changed. This is why tailoring your hashtag strategy should be a routine part of your social media plan.

First you will want to identify your target audience and search for appropriate hashtags that the audience may be interested in. Get in the mind of your audience. Think about what tags they might search for on social media. If you’re an author, #bookstoread and #bookstagram are popular, community-based hashtags that many bookworms use when looking for new reading material. Complete a search of your own to see which posts get the most traction, and remember to be continually researching as information is changing constantly.

Tags

Potentially the simplest way to get attention on social media is to tag people or accounts that may be interested in your content. Tagging an account will get your post to pop up in their notifications, giving your content a higher chance of being seen by specific people.

Similar to your hashtag research, you will want to find accounts that you think would be interested in your content. Think about your target audience and identify accounts that may want your content to show up in their notifications. Once you have these accounts identified, you can begin mentioning them in your captions. On Instagram, Facebook, and X, start by typing ‘@’ and proceed to type in the account name you want to tag.

For example, if you put @mckinneymediagroup in an Instagram caption, we will be notified and see your post.

The Algorithm

The main way your content will get attention on social media is through the elusive algorithm. Social media platforms will deliver content they think you want to see based on things you have searched for and looked at previously. It looks at content and users and tries to serve the right content to the right people. 

“Beating” the algorithm and getting people to see your content isn’t always so easy and there isn’t one thing or another that you can do that will work every time. What is important is creating consistent, high quality content that you know your target audience will enjoy. Constantly keep an eye on trends in the algorithm on all your social media platforms to make sure that you’re staying up to date on how content is being pushed to users. Check out these 2024 guides to the algorithm on Instagram, Facebook, and X (Twitter) for more information.

Creating Your Social Media Plan

This month we spent a lot of time going through different aspects of posting about your book and your brand on social media.  Now that you know how to get started, make authentic connections, and discover topics, it is time for the most important part.  We are going to talk about creating your social media plan.

Structure Your Social Media Plan

None of the things you have learned so far will matter without a clear strategy and mapped out calendar.  For people who like to fly by the seat of their pants and hate linear structure, this is going to be annoying.   You may need a plan more than most, because without one you will not keep it up.

The great news is that you can automate some of the tasks.  However, you will need to sit down and make a calendar for each month in advance.  Ideally, you have several months of planned content laid out so you can produce it, schedule it and forget about everything but engaging and having fun with your new followers.  Here is how you put a plan together.

Your Social Media Outline

1.  Find a monthly calendar template that you think will serve you best.  Hubspot has one, and if you click on the link you will go to a page with a free download.  We use a customized version of it that has worked well.

2. Think about the forms of your content.  For example, we like to post a blog every week and our social posts include a feed post on Instagram followed by stories throughout the week based on the blog.  We try to create themed months and weeks, which makes it easier to organize content.  It also provides different formats for people who like to consume content in different ways.

3. Go back to your topics and themes.  If one of your topics is world building because you write fantasy, then think about creating content about your process, articles you find online, different resources you use, people whose work you admire, etc.

4. Now it’s time to get specfic.  Let’s plan a week of content on Instagram that includes a blog post about how you got interested in world building.  You can choose to promote that blog on your website via a feed post on Monday, followed by two stories on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.  Mark those in your calendar.

You could also add a reel with a visual like a map and a caption that includes a mistake to avoid as you get started with your world.  Maybe you post your reel on Wednesday.  Mark that in your calendar.  Now you have a full week planned for that topic.

Getting Content Ideas Using AI

Many of us have ambivalent feelings about AI.  As writers and creators we worry that AI will take over our specializations and make us obselete.  Although some of this may be true or false, in the meantime we all need to be familiar with how generative AI works.  So, I am recommending that you try ChatGPT, prompting it with your world building idea to see what article headlines it generates.

You could also go to Google.  Type in “world building” and see what drops down from the search bar.  Scroll to see what topics are listed further down the search results pages where it says “People also searched for”.

You Can’t Break Your Social Media

If you are relatively new to social media with a modest following or zero followers, you don’t need to worry too much about how your plan is executed.  You can’t break your social media at this level.  What is most important is that you jump in and try out a system.  If you are stuck or want a bit of guidance, we do offer a free 30 minute social media overview.  You can also search our blogs or look through our Instagram feed for other posts and tips.

Attention Newsletter Subscribers:  In the February newsletter you will find a brief how to video for the ChatGPT process I mentioned above.  To subscribe to our newsletter visit the home page

 

 

Creating An Effective Instagram Bio

Having an effective Instagram bio is a key factor in growing your audience since it is the first thing profile visitors will see. Potential new followers will see your bio and profile before making a quick decision whether to stick around or click away. Optimizing your bio in 150 characters or less in a way that showcases your brand identity is pivotal but tricky! Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Keep It Short & Sweet

The number one tip when it comes to creating your Instagram bio is to keep it concise while continuing to be informative about your brand and personality. You want to communicate who you are and what you offer as soon as a visitor clicks on your profile. If they don’t know why they should follow you at a quick glance, your bio may not be effective enough. Between users’ short attention spans and the 150 character limit, you must strive to grab visitors’ notice right away.

Use Keywords

Your Instagram bio should contain keywords relevant to you and your brand that describe who you are and what you do as an author. This will increase your visibility online in search results to help new people find you and attract a target audience. For example, you can use words like “author” and “writer,” or more genre specific words like “romance,” or “mystery” to attract the right kind of readers to your page. As a starting point, brainstorm words that your ideal readers may use as search terms on Instagram to find books and authors similar to you. Instagram SEO will help your profile and content to be shown in search results.

Add a Call to Action

A call to action encourages page visitors to do something, whether that be to follow you, click a link, send a message, etc. This is a good way to get people interacting and engaging with you and your content right away. Choose a call to action that aligns with your goals and include it in your bio to optimize your audience’s sense of curiosity. We recommend including a link as your call to action. Try directing users to your own website where they can buy your book online, a newsletter sign up, or even a link in bio tool such as Linktree. A link in bio tool will show all of your most important links at once! Your bio is the first thing Instagram users will see when they visit your page, and these few simple tips are a great way to get started with your optimization. Your main goal is to drive readers into some type of action, such as following you or buying your book. Check out these fun bio ideas for some more inspiration on what to add to your profile and how to have an effective Instagram bio!