Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Instagram: Not Just for Millennials

“Instagram is a cross between Pinterest and Twitter,” says Sonja Yoerg, author of contemporary fiction and a fan of Instagram. “Instagram shares Pinterest’s image-sharing feature and Twitter’s use of hashtags for categorizing and tracking topics.”   
Have you tried Instagram? No? Read on. Even if you’re a veteran, read on and share your tips and best practices.

I had long known about this mobile photo-sharing app that lets users edit and upload photos and short videos. I also knew that the typical user was between 15 and 35. Since my demographic skews older, I felt no need to add this particular social media service to my platform—and my time. But two years ago my curiosity won out and I signed up. I intended to simply lurk and see what was what. Within five minutes I had two followers. So I caved and posted a photo. I’m still there, posting, following, being followed.

As for the younger folks … well, Instagram’s no longer just for the Millennials. I’m not sure if they’re leaving in droves (my college-aged niece is still active) but the older folks are arriving in droves.

What’s to like about Instagram?
It’s fun and it doesn’t take a lot of time. Well, it can take a lot of time.

There’s no limit on post length (if there is, I haven’t reached it). 

Authors can engage with reviewers and bloggers. I must admit that I haven’t done this yet, but it’s an attractive option. At the very least, they may post your book cover.

Sonja Yoerg offers book giveaways on Instagram. For a chance to win, she asks interested readers to follow her and leave a comment. For some giveaways she directs readers to her Facebook page. She seems to do very well with this promotional gambit.

What’s not to like about Instagram?
A few things. While you can create live links in your profile, you can’t in your posts. Not a huge problem, but inconvenient.

Then you have to contend with those danged algorithms. Remember when Facebook and Twitter had chronological timelines before switching to an algorithm that shows you the “top stories”—meaning what the social media gods think are top stories. Last year, Instagram followed suit.

But while Facebook and Twitter give you the ability to restore the date/time order of your timeline postings, Instagram has yet to extend that courtesy. Hopefully they will, and soon. After all, Facebook owns them.

What to post
Post pictures of anything and everything: travel, movies, pets, fall foliage, snow, spring blossoms, and, no surprise, food!; promote your writing events, books (yours and others), and blogs; send holiday greetings with a season-appropriate image.    

Many use a theme in their postings, along the lines of sunsets, trees, babies, pets, etc. This approach is fine, but use caution—seeing Florida sunrises day after day gets old fast. 

Use hashtags to reach a wider audience and attract potential followers. But don’t go overboard with the hashtags. It’s easy to do because there are so many of them and it’s such fun to go wild after Twitter’s restrictions on post length. But hashtag mania will make your postings look spammy. I’ve been cutting back on mine.

Here are my cats, Morris and Olive, celebrating National Cat Day on Instagram:   

It seems that my image is too large. No problem, you get the idea. When I post pictures of my two scamps, I typically use these hashtags: #catsofinstagram, #cats, #norwegianforestcat, #manxcat, #oliveannking, #morristhecat. Maybe too many, but I can't resist! On Saturdays, I use the #caturday tag.

Writers have an extensive selection of hashtags: #authorsofinstagram, #bookstagram, #writersofinstagram, #writersofvirginia (pick a state), and #mysteries are just a few. Plus you can create your own, just like in Twitter.   

So give Instagram a try. Follow me at authormaggieking. And, like I said in the beginning, old hands are welcome to weigh in with your experience and advice on how to make Instagram a fun and rewarding part of a social media platform. 

Here's more information on Instagram.


Mollie Blake said...

Thanks for this Maggie. We have a young puppy (a Newfoundland and our first ever dog!!) and all things "authorish" are sort of on hold for me at the moment. But I did manage to have coffee with an author friend earlier this week and she was encouraging me to use Instagram. A bit like you in your early days, I have an account but am very inactive (I'll follow you btw), which as we all know, gets us nowhere. I have set myself a target of returning to writing in January if not before, and more use of Instagram is on my to-do-list.
My friend did show me how easy it is to link your post from Instagram to Facebook, just saves that bit of time and every bit helps.
Good luck with your promotions. Best wishes, Mollie x

Maggie King said...

Mollie, I look forward to seeing your posts on IG. Best wishes with your puppy and your return to all things "authorish."

Linda Thorne said...

I'm still stumbling around on Twitter, avoiding it when I can. Maybe some day I'll get to some of these other social media sources, but not now while I have a busy full-time job. Thanks for this information though. I know a lot of adults and older people getting on Instagram. I'd initially heard it was for millennials too, but that seems to be changing.

Maggie King said...

I'd love to be your first follower on IG, Linda. I think you'd like it better than Twitter.

Liane Spicer said...

No more SM platforms for me right now! I'm way too easily distracted: I go on for five minutes and look up two hours later, dazed. Maybe when my schedule eases up a little.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Good post. I'm a recent user. I didn't realize hashtags would be useful. I've tried to connect to my author page on FB but the post goes to my personal page. Settings show my author page. Not sure what to do.

Maggie King said...

Liane, we have to so what's right for us individually. That's why I abandoned Pinterest.

Brenda, I've never figured out some of the quirks of Facebook. If you do, let me know. BTW I just followed you on Instagram.

Amy Reade said...

Interesting post, Maggie! I like Instagram for a couple reasons: first, I have used it as part of my author platform and I've generated some interest from it. Second, I mostly use it for things other than my author self, so it's a good way for me to take a break for a few minutes and remind myself that there's a whole world out there to enjoy.