I started this blog on a whim, I needed something which I could call my own. I wanted a passion, a creative outlet if you will. I enjoyed the process of setting up the blog and making it look pretty and I felt really accomplished after completing the blog. I published 2 posts and then realized I needed more followers who read my content or else I wouldn’t have feedback and I wouldn’t feel like I am growing and learning.
That’s when I created a bookstagram account. I didn’t know what I was doing, I knew people were clicking beautiful pictures and I convinced my self that I enjoyed clicking photographs in grass and outdoors. But the truth was that I was just doing it because it was easy. As a result I posted in a week and then nothing for months. Why? Because I was doing it like a chore. It was not creative anymore. I stopped blogging too.
Then about 4-5 months ago, I decided it was time to get organized. I was still reading and I still wanted to discuss books and feel creative. So the core of why it all started was still true. I needed to just figure out a good strategy that would work. I started from scratch and tried to be more observant of what other accounts were doing. The kind of photos, captions and hashtags that they are using.
I also started searching for bookstagram on Pinterest and here on WordPress and read 100s of posts until I felt like I was not lost. So this post is essentially going to summarize what I read all over the internet, some valuable advice that successful accounts have given me and some things that really worked for me.
Disclaimer1: I am not a pro, I don’t have a million followers but I just started and the struggle is still fairly new in my head and I feel like something is working for me and if at least 1 tip helps you then I am willing to put in the effort required.
Disclaimer2: Now I don’t promise that this will increase your follower count exponentially in 2 days or your going to buy a unicorn with a million dollars you won in the lottery but it will help you create a more meaningful community where you are actually finding like minded accounts and connecting with people rather than just focusing on numbers.
There are 4 main themes to Instagram that I found to be working for me:
(Yes, the algorithm is not helping and we are all annoyed because we see posts from 5 days ago. But let us try and focus on things which are in our control shall we?)
As mentioned earlier I didn’t get it right the first time. Look at what others are doing but don’t copy. There are 2 problems with that strategy: 1) if you are always copying people would rather follow that other account that follow your account because you are always step behind, and, 2) this is the bigger problem, if your intent is to just copy then you will lose motivation very soon especially when you don’t see followers increase.
- When you are first starting off, don’t start following accounts with no pictures on your account. Post at least 6-9 (2 to 3 lines). I’ve noticed that people were more receptive to engaging with my account when I had enough content. Got to know you are serious
- Create content that inspires you. Taking inspiration is good but add your twist and flavor to it. Have something new to offer.
- Decide on a theme. This is not new and is not subjective to bookstagram only. Most Instagram businesses will tell you to have a theme. Decide on one background and switch up what you want to do with your pictures. You don’t have to use the same background every time, just make sure that the tones are the same. I’ve seen most people on Instagram opt for whitebackgrounds
Consistency works two ways. You need to post consistently and at times where your followers are active. If you have Instagram Business account then you can see these numbers after a certain time. But if you are just starting out start by guessing. When do you most actively check your Instagram profile? A lot of my followers are from IST or PST. So I usually post around 7am PST which is when my friends in India are winding down their day about to sleep and my friends in PNW and rest of USA are waking up. Now, Instagram analytic confirm that this is about the time when my followers are most active.
Now the second part of the equation is to consistently talk to people you follow. Reply to comments, like and comment on pictures of account you follow. The key is to have meaningful conversations. If you are using smileys then you are not getting to know anyone and you are not creating a support system. It is important to retain the people who love your account, don’t be a jerk to them.
- Be consistent in post. Post regularly and at more or less the same time. Try to analyze the time which works out best for your followers.
- Always reply to comments on your posts and create a community
Instead of idly spending time on social media make it count. A valuable advice from Faroukh (@theguywiththebook) is to have a community and a support system with people whose account size is similar to yours and trust me that helps. If you keep commenting on someones post then they tend to reply and do the same. But the key is to post meaningful comments please don’t use smileys, I personally hate when someone uses just smileys on my posts. Engage in meaningful discussions.
Another great way to engage with your followers, ask questions in your posts. I have nothing else to add other than what is in this post and validating that is works. What I’ve seen working is to ask generic questions. People respond to ‘What is your favorite tea flavor?’ better than “What do you think of character X in this series and why?”
Instagram should not be a place where your followers need to think a lot, they have enough decisions to make in their life. Try asking fun questions which need less thinking but also keep it close to books. For example, asking them about how their day went is fine but asking them their favorite makeup brand might not be very relevant to your audience.
- Create a community by liking, commenting and following accounts with similar size
- Ask questions – I have nothing else to add other than what is in this post
I used to use hashtags like #bookstagram and #instadaily with millions of posts tagged. This is big NO. This was a tip recommended to me by Shelbi from @thenobbylife (Blog: here, Instagram: here). She has been one of my biggest inspiration in the book blogging community. Imagine there is a hashtag with >10 million photos. You are a needle in a haystack my friend, no matter what you do you won’t shine. Use hashtags from a few thousand posts to 100,000. Sometimes it is okay to go up to 500,000 but that is enough do not push your luck.
@theguywiththebook (Blog: here, Instagram: here) and @sumaiyya.books (Blog: here, Instagram: here) started the hashtag #unitedbookstagram to support accounts which just started off and they also constantly remind you to support accounts using the hashtag and that has been so helpful not only to increase the engagement on your posts but also to find new accounts, make new friends and increase your REACH.
I use hashtags such as #lovetoread, #iamreading to find fellow book readers who also reader (cue: your target audience, sitting right there reading and waiting to discover awesomeness). I’ve also noticed that classics and new releases work better as you most definitely find someone reading these books.
- Use hashtags with about 10,000 to 500,000 pictures
- Explore generic hashtags to find readers and people who are reading the same book as you are.
- Don’t comment things like ‘great pic’ or use smileys when reaching out to new followers. If you already read the book in question, tell them what you liked or disliked about the book and make it worth their time to check your account.
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