Let’s Talk About #Bookstagram #tipsneeded #bookbloggers #bookblog #bookblogging #instagram #helpme #advicewanted

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So, I’ve been thinking a lot about Bookstagram lately. I’ve noticed more and more requests for Instagram tours hitting my inbox. Anne Cater mentioned in a post a week or so ago that publishers were starting to look for minimum numbers of followers on Twitter and Insta for people taking part in their blog tours. I am enjoying and envying other people’s lovely book posts on my Instagram feed. My Instagram feed is sad and limp and neglected; I could never take part in an Instagram tour of a book using my currently tragic and slapdash efforts.

I decided more effort was required in the area of Instagram if I want to grow my blog. Plus, who doesn’t like looking at beautiful photos, especially of books? And I thought it might be an interesting creative outlet as an alternative to all my current, word-related hobbies.

So I started reading some posts about how to create a lovely bookstagram feed and, wow! I came away feeling simultaneously impressed, daunted and confused. I have more questions than answers and decided to reach out to you, my bookish colleagues for help. I am calling on your wisdom and experience to help me figure out how to improve my Instagram game with the limited time and talent at my disposal. I am begging you for any advice, tips and tricks you have to offer that have worked for you.

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Firstly, how important is Instagram in the current world of book blogging, especially for those of us who have not hit the heady heights of the top ranks? I have read that Instagram is now the fastest-growing and most influential platform, but does it drive traffic to your blog? Are you finding you are getting more interaction in general and on your blog if you are active on Bookstagram? What I am asking is, do you find it is worth the effort?

Secondly, I read a lot about the importance of a theme and consistency so that your feed looks curated and your grid is balanced and, if I look at some of my favourite bookstagram feeds, I can see how this works.

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This one always has very busy and interesting pictures in muted tones.

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A lot of you will recognise Cait’s feed with her bright colours and lots of flowers.

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All of the photos on this one have a sepia wash.

I looked at my feed and realised my theme was ‘Busy, middle-aged woman who takes random photos that she posts sporadically and can’t be arsed with filters.’ Not sure this is a heart-winner as far as themes go. So, how much time and thought do you all put in to your overall feed to be successful? I have read that people spend 3-4 hours A DAY curating their instagram feed. I mean, there is just no way on earth that this is a possibility for me with all the other commitments I have going on (these must all be young people with no children, remember those days?). How little time can you reasonably spend on Instagram and it still be worth it? If I just do one photo (which I have not spend 3 hours staging, taking and editing), can I still have a reasonable insta following?

What are the best things to post? What do you like to look at on bookstagram? Does an insta feed just have to be books or are other things interesting to you as well? How often do you post?

What about your reviews? Do you post your whole reviews on Instagram and does that get a good response? I had toyed with the idea of posting a photo and an abbreviated review on Instagram rather than the whole thing, but will people visit the blog to read the whole thing? There is just so much to think about!

Hashtags. How many to use? Which ones are best? Where do you put them? I have read advice that says to use 5-30 and put them in the first comment, rather than in the caption as it looks neater. Have you tried this? Does it work better? It is all so confusing!

Instagram stories? I don’t understand them. What are they, how do you use them and should I be doing it? God, I feel like such an old fogey!

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If anyone has any fabulous advice on how I can improve my bookstagram game without having to spend more than 15 minutes a day on it, using anything other than my iPhone or the filters on Instagram itself, I will gratefully listen. What works for you? Have you read any useful articles? Can you recommend anyone whose feeds I should follow.

Or am I just a dog who is too old to learn new tricks?

 

 

32 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About #Bookstagram #tipsneeded #bookbloggers #bookblog #bookblogging #instagram #helpme #advicewanted

  1. I am with you! I have no idea on IG! I have tried but I can barely keep up with twitter, Facebook and WordPress let alone Instagram plus with a child and working full time and reading sometimes lol I am always on my phone as it is. LOL I feel like I should but never know how to start. Will be keeping my eye on this post!!! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I started removing @’s when sharing other people’s posts. It’s especially important to do that when the @’s are people who do not follow your twitter account. Twitter labels you a spammer when you do that. Since I’ve started doing that a year ago, I haven’t been in jail and I was in there once a week so.

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      2. Karen

        I use the same theme as you Julie ( love that description! 😂). I don’t really understand what I’m doing either and as I dislike seeing posts with endless hashtags I tend not to use too many. I shall follow this post with interest and hopefully see what I should be doing better!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t used Instagram for almost a year. Mostly because I felt I was spending a lot of time on it without getting many benefits in return.

    Did it send more people to my blog? No. You can’t put links in your IG posts so you have to refer people to the link on your profile page and nobody does that because they’re lazy. Despite having some 600+ followers at the time, I got very little interaction. And then there’s the way Instagram’s algorithm works, which means that in between all the influencers and whatnot, my posts just weren’t seen by people. I spent a lot of time each week trying to take nice pictures that barely got 50 odd “likes” and it just didn’t seem worth the effort. If you want to get anywhere, you need to post pretty much every single day. Consistency is the key. Or so I’ve been told.

    As for tags, the more the merrier, I’m told. And most people do put them in the first comment because it’s cleaner to look at. I never posted my reviews. Just a tiny quote or something. People don’t go to Instagram to read, they just want to see the pretty pictures. Attention span equals zero, in most cases.

    The stories, I don’t have a clue. I don’t get their point at all but a lot of people use them. You can post whatever you want in there. Short videos of unpacking book post or whatever. The stories disappear after 24 hours. I think Facebook has them now as well? I suppose it’s an easy way for people to keep up to date with what you post without having to scroll down their entire feed.

    I’m not sure I’ve been any help. Between the blog and twitter and actually reading, something had to give and Instagram was it. Sometimes I think I’ll go back to it. Most days I just can’t be bothered. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Eva, that’s really helpful. I’m having massive problems with Twitter at the moment, I am obviously on some kind of blacklist because they are shadow-banning me practically every other day. I’ve tried loads of different tactics but I can’t get around it unless I don’t do any sharing, so I’m looking for alternative outlets I guess.

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  3. Instagram is where I occasionally post something if I remember! If i use tags I use them at the end of the post because I want to see something about what the post is about without scrolling though loads of tags. I’m obviously not using IG as I should and to be honest I am not going to spend time doing so. I’ve never had and blog views via there either. I already spend time each day sharing from WordPress into twitter, I don’t post much on Facebook and Twitter is used for sharing other people’s blog posts. I spend 3ish hours sharing blog posts and if I was to add that same amount of time on other platforms I would have no time for me. I prefer to focus on one platform and that is enough for me. It is too easy to lose hours on screen time.

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  4. Make sure you’re having fun is the best thing to focus on. Consistency in posting and filters has helped me. You can do booksta on a budget. I bought a paper backdrop for $10 for my photos which ‘upgraded’ my pics. No longer do you see the mess around my place. INTERACT with others should be high on your list too. Comment and have discussions.Good luck.

    I’ve got more info on my blog if you’re still interested in advice: https://alisoninbookland.com/category/bookstagram/

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You definitely need to invest time to make your instagram successful.

    Between setting up attractive pics, sharing stories, and engaging with the Booksta community, meeting the finicky demands of the IG algorithm does command more than 15 minutes a day if you want to grow your account.

    Here are my tips:
    1. Pick a theme and stick with it. This is your brand, and you need to be consistent.
    2. Post once daily, and only post book pics. Post family/personal pictures on a different account.
    3. Timing does matter for posts. I’ve found posting around 3pm EST works best for me as far as engagement. If you go to ‘Insights – Audience’ you can find when your followers are most active.
    4. Use hashtags. I use 20-30 each time. Don’t use the most popular ones. Look at the hashtags other accounts are using.
    5. Visit hashtags. Like both recent and top posts. Comment and engage with the accounts you really like.
    6. Post stories daily and add Giphy. I’ve heard the algorithm will reward you.
    7. Follow to get followers and make friends. The Booksta community is seriously wonderful and encouraging! 🙂

    I’ll tell you that I’ve pretty much abandoned my blog in favor of IG. I don’t have time to read many blogs, and I think that others feel the same way. It’s much easier to read a book review that appears on my IG feed than it is to sort through my email to get blog updates.

    I won’t say that blog is dead, but I will say that IG is only growing in popularity, and I feel I’ve found my people in Bookstagram. But you need to assess your own goals when it comes to choosing which platform will work best for you and your times constraints.

    Hope this helps!

    Jessica
    @jstefaniauthor

    Like

  6. Love this post! I always looking for new tips for Instagram as although I’ve had an account for a while it’s taken ages to get any growth on it until recently. I’ve just hit 600 followers which is a hundred more since Christmas, so I’m pretty excited about that. I do have a theme, but it’s very simple and something I don’t need lots of expensive props for. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m not sure I’m getting any more visits to the blog although my followers are slowly increasing on that too. As for stories I just share a post on stories and add some funky text, but I don’t do videos of myself, as that would be taking things too far for this middle-aged woman! lol

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve even less clue what I’m doing on Instagram than I have with other social media. #hashtags are a mystery to me, I sometimes throw a few around, but more generally than not I forget. I use the same Image on Instagram as the one I’ve posted on the blog as I can’t be arsed messing about with specially created images, especially of things I can’t photograph as I don’t possess them! I had 250+ followers on Instagram when I’d had one solitary post on there for about a year. Most of those were people who followed me elsewhere. I’m not really in the market for followers as such, I don’t get ARC’s or authors/publishers contacting me, so there isn’t the same impetus to post pictures of their book post to say thanks you or promote. The majority of the books I read are past their sell by date, by the time I read them so I’m hardly an influencer. I dabble and muddle through. Maybe if I had more time I might be more focussed but getting blog posts out is the priority and I’m not aware that Instagram generates anymore visits, just likes from people who already ‘see’ me elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great discussion post! From my experience, I see little click through to the blog from Instagram. I see more from twitter and Pinterest. (I landed here from twitter!) I share your thoughts about not having hours of time for staging pictures! I think in terms of reading hours! So…..I use the cover and create a background using an app like PhotoGrid or Canva. Takes me 5 minutes at most! I put most of my hashtags in the first comment and use close to 30. I share my post to stories but I don’t do videos. I think accounts with the most followers are “personalities” and share a lot of video ….either that or post every day (even multiple times a day). I post 2-3 times a week……and I share reviews and not book stacks (because I read on kindle). My followers and engagement increased when I joined a couple of engagements groups. Buddy reads are also a good way to make friends on Instagram! I’ve also heard that editing your review will kill the algorithm on that post …because if you edit, it takes you back to ground zero in your reach. If I absolutely need to edit, I wait a couple of days (or do it immediately after posting). I’ve tried putting teasers on Instagram (in lieu of a full review) to see if that helps the click through rate….I can’t see that it makes too much difference. Instagram users are reluctant to click through. I still think it’s valuable to have a presence on the platform though! I think twitter has given me my most click throughs and shares! But Instagram has given me more friends and community! I’m @readingladies_book_club on insta!

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  9. I’m not sure mine added much to the party 😂 I hope you can get more constructive help from others. Basically I should have said, I don’t really understand what I’m doing. I also tend to work with a camera and a PC which isn’t conducive to spontaneity. Good luck with your Insta, I’ll follow it I don’t already and should maybe make more of an effort myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I use Instagram for fun and a bit of creativity. I have no ‘theme’ as such and to be honest, I find bookstagram accounts which use the same aesthetic for every picture to be quite boring.
    I have to say that it has directed very little traffic to my blog, as I can’t put links in my posts. You sometimes see people with big IG followings but a tiny number of blog followers. It looks like they are having to choose between these platforms for building their engagements.
    Sorry I haven’t anything more helpful to say :/

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. thebrowneyedbookworm

    I’ve had a bookstagram account for almost three years now.

    I do mostly flatlays that means I have a white bedsheet I put on my bed, close to window for natural light. Natural light is the one thing you will NEED! Makes a huge difference in photo quality. But otherwise, as I said I have a white sheet, and use candles I got from IKEA for 5 bucks, dried some baby breath, use a scarf sometimes, it doesn’t cost much to get a workable theme. Also, most bookstagrammers use their home as a backdrop. Simple holding up a book in front of a bookshelf, or even outdoors.

    There is little to no traction between IG and my blog. You need to see them as two separate entities. But since IG is visual, getting physical books from publishers is everyone’s goal.

    The influence and visibility can be enormous if you put the time into your account. And the smaller account often have more influence over their followers than the big ones, because the more followers you have, and I mean 50-100K the less visibility, thanks to the algorithm.

    It doesn’t take me long to take photos, a couple minutes, I use only one editing app afterwards, slap a filter on it and I’m good to go. Captions take a bit more time, and always try to have a question or two in your caption for engagement.

    The problem with IG is that you need to engage to get engagement back – again thanks algorithm. IG wants you to use their platform, and if you don’t engage with your fellow bookstagrammers, IG will bury your post and barely anyone will see it.

    The most time will go into engagement. Going through your feed, liking and commenting.

    It’s a commitment, but worth it. It all depends on what you want to get out of it. But you should have a passion for it, otherwise it will turn into a chore.

    Sorry for the lengthy essay. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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