Seeking Advice about Instagram

I recently signed up to Instagram – bookishbeck, as always, if you want to connect – but haven’t been very active on the site yet. (My sister coerced me into joining, mostly so I could follow itsdougthepug.) The main issue is that I don’t have a smartphone, so rather than using the app version I have to go via a program called Gramblr and can’t access all the usual features. A lot of the time it can seem like too much of a faff to post pictures on there.

However, I want to give the site a proper go so would like to get advice on how I can best use it as a book blogger. I know it can be a good way to connect with publishers by posting photos of review copies they’ve sent you and linking to your reviews, etc. I’ve already followed a bunch of publishers, but I know there’s more I could and should be doing.

So I’ll turn it over to you: those of you who use Instagram (primarily for bookish reasons rather than personal photos, though that’s cool too), what accounts should I be following? What’s your strategy when posting book photos? How can I use hashtags and captions to my advantage? Do you use Instagram in pretty much the same way as you do Twitter, or are there subtle differences I should be aware of?

Thanks in advance for any tips!

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12 thoughts on “Seeking Advice about Instagram

  1. Im afraid I am not going to be of much help here since I don’t use Instagram. But I have the same questions relating to Pinterest. I have various boards and add to them sporadically but am struggling to see how this drives traffic to my blog or engages with anyone

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    1. Oh I’m clueless about Pinterest too. I think it’s supposed to function as a virtual pinboard where you save any links or photos that interest you, but it doesn’t strike me as very useful. My impression is actually that people who started off on Pinterest have now migrated to Instagram.

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      1. Thanks. It’s very specific to book bloggers I think. I also think my message to me is ‘don’t bother’. I use Google photos to share photos with friends and I think it works for me. I don’t need to build an audience, unlike you for whom blogging is to some degree a career move.

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  2. OKAY, here we go.

    1. Instagram without a smartphone is almost entirely useless. It’s not designed as a website; it really is an app first and foremost (hence your having to use Gramblr as a workaround).
    2. It’s very visual. Well-designed shots are essential, and if you’re not innately skilled at that, pictures of pretty covers also do well.
    3. Which brings me to hashtags. On Instagram they are way, way more important. Many people put all of their hashtags not in the actual photo caption, but in a comment which they write underneath the caption. (The #prettycovers hashtag has a fairly wide following and will probably get you some followers….)
    4. If you want to link to a review you’ve written, write “link in bio” at the end of your caption, then put the link (bitly’d, preferably) into your Instagram bio as your “website” address. This does require you to change the link every time you promote a new post, but it is the simplest, and most recognised, way to post links on Instagram; I’m not sure it’s even possible to embed one directly in a post.
    5. As on Twitter, I usually tag the publisher if I’m publicising a review. I take a picture of the book against some sort of appropriate background – my book pics are fine but not brilliant, especially in comparison to some; follow @juniperbooks and @bluestockingbookshelf for some truly enviable snaps – and write a little summary/caption. (Plus adding “link in bio”, of course.)

    That’s the major stuff I can think of, anyway! I’m @eleanorfranzen if you want to have a look at how I’m doing it. I’ll follow you, too.

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    1. BRILL! Thanks, Elle. I am fully aware that my photos are only serviceable rather than impressive, but as you say, the covers will sometimes speak for themselves. I’m trying to get better at photographing book stacks in front of interesting backgrounds. Carolyn O. is really good at this.

      Okay, so hashtags in captions, and links in the bio (I’d been wondering why people always said that!).

      It’s definitely frustrating not being able to use the proper app version, but I can’t see myself getting a smartphone any time soon, so I’ll persist with Gramblr even though it takes a little longer.

      When would you say are good occasions to upload book photos? When you receive book post from a publisher? When you post a review?

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      1. I definitely do both (or try to; I often forget when I get book post, I’m trying to improve at this). But using it as I use Facebook and Twitter, to promote a review directly after I’ve written it, has produced good results. (Oh, and two other hashtags that tend to work well: #instabook and #bookstagram.)

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      2. The other thing, obviously, is filters. I tend to stick to the same two or three (Clarendon, Gingham and Lark, if you’re interested), but they can add a bit of punch to a lackluster photo, as can adjusting the brightness/contrast!

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