Instagram: Should You Be On It?

Is Instagram for Authors?Social media is a big part of our lives. There’s no getting around it if you are publishing and writing. The last thing you want to do is add another platform. However, as you watch the pop culture world around us, there is no denying the impact of Instagram. It’s ubiquitous in mainstream media. But, is it right for us as authors?

Let’s look at some of the stats:

  • 300 million active users
  • 70 million posts per day
  • 70% of users are outside the United States
  • Average time on the site by users is twenty-one minutes per day
  • Forty-one percent of the Internet users age 16-24 use Instagram while usage among 24-34 is at 35%.

At first look, the numbers may mean different things to different audiences. If you are a young adult author, Instagram may be the place to be. Here’s an interesting number to back that up:

  • According to Socialbakers, the top brands on Instagram have a post engagement rate 4,700% higher than on Twitter

While these numbers are impressive, does it answer the question of whether you should be on Instagram? If you’ve been living in a cave, here’s the basics on Instagram. It’s a free platform to share pictures and videos with others. It’s simple to use and offers filters to transform your look. You can easily share to Facebook, Twitter, your blog, and Tumblr. From a personal perspective, I’m on Instagram. However, I have done very little with it. In contrast, I’ve engaged in Instagram much more for my clients. Isn’t that always the way it works? We’re the last to do the right things for ourselves.

Looking forward, I’ll be incorporating Instagram on a higher level in my strategy. As a writer, here are some reasons why I think that it’s time to get on the bus.

  1. We’re a different breed and there is probably no better platform to display your “differentness” than through pictures.
  2. It’s easy. Click and post, throw in a # or two and you’re off to the races.
  3. It’s a different population. Facebook and Twitter are huge, and while there is overlap, Instagram is one of the few places you can reach new populations of real users.
  4. The seamless connection to other platforms is a great way to get great visuals into your circle of social media.

If you want to check out a couple of author Instagram accounts you might want to stop by @krakauernotwriting, @stephenking.

Instagram is not all sunshine and roses. Here are a couple of negatives that can impact your success on the platform.

  1. Instagram is exactly what it preaches … instant pictures. The mobile app is free and that is how it’s intended to be used. Mobile. If you sit behind a desktop all day, Instagram may be a little frustrating. There are a couple of apps that help turn you desktop into a “mobile device.” Here is the best of what’s out there.
  • Instagram for Chrome – Use Instagram directly from your browser. Has a look and feel similar to the actual app. Roadblock? You must be using Chrome; it’s an extension for Chrome.
  • Gramblr – An uploader that uses Instagram’s API. In other words, you’ll have to provide your Instagram password. There have been issues with compatibility with Apple.
  • Bluestacks Player App – This is not specific to Instagram. It’s a tool to run any mobile app on your desktop. Once you download the app, you’ll search for Instagram and follow the instructions.

As you can see, it’s not easy to play with Instagram on the PC. If you are primarily a mobile user, it will be easier to get started.

  1. The only other negative is pictures. That’s right, just like any other platform, content is key. You won’t be able to slap up some written content and push submit. Posting pictures is the key. If you think that you won’t be able to supply a consistent flow of pictures to your account, maybe Instagram isn’t for you.
  2. Changes to your profile and such, including your profile picture, must be done through the mobile app. You won’t be able to go to the PC to get set up. Again, for many, it’s not a big deal, for others it’s a pain.

Not sure how you’d use Instagram? Carol Wyer shared some thoughts on what you could post here. If you take the plunge to Instagram, you’ll want to hashtag (#) your posts and start connecting to the world. In the end, it’s a cool platform that offers inroads to a younger, hip, and vibrant population. I’ll see you over there at @jimdev7.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

16 thoughts on “Instagram: Should You Be On It?”

  1. A movie producer friend with more than 10,000 followers convinced me last summer that I needed Instagram as part of my author platform to reach a younger, hip, interactive audience. I now have over 3700 followers, share my Instagram posts to Facebook and my FB posts are automatically shared with Twitter. Pictures get your audience’s attention and every Instagram post I make goes out to 3 social networks. I can post anytime I have my phone with me and recently upgraded to a new phone that takes better pictures. I’ve posted a cover shot of my new book and photos of my recent book signing events at nightclubs that included musical performances by one of my bands. Instagram is rapidly becoming an important part of my author platform. You can find me @hillbillysavant

    1. Richard, glad to hear of your success with Instagram. Used the right way, it can be a great asset. Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. Thanks Jim. I have been wondering what Instagram is. I don’t even have a cell phone, so all these apps and such are over my head. At least now I have an idea of what it entails. Don’t know if I’ll ever get involved after you described using it on a desktop. Probably not. I don’t need any more headaches. But at least I’m now not entirely ignorant when I hear or see the name. 🙂

    1. Glad to help, and you’re right, probably not much need to jump in to this one for you.

    1. You can upload from the computer, but its not easy. If you refer back to the post, I’ve included a couple of methods that allow you to use your computer as a mobile device. I’m not sure that it makes that much sense for you though. Thanks for your input!

  3. It was 1967; I was 17 years old and on leave from the British Parachute Regiment, as I chatted with a man on a train travelling from London to Glasgow. The man was what I would have called, at the time, an old man but, introducing himself simply as John, he seemed pretty cool and he talked with me, rather than to me like most older people tended to do. I enjoyed his company but where I was totally excited about life I was aware that he seemed… not so much; not quite melancholy, but he certainly lacked my enthusiasm.

    I felt comfortable enough to say, “Aren’t you excited to be alive in the swinging sixties?” John explained to me that he felt a little out of time… He had grown up with the sound of horses doing their morning deliveries: fresh milk and bread and so on, and the pace had been easy, with no one in a particular hurry; it had been a more relaxed time, he felt. He said that, although he was in no particular hurry to ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’ he would be happy enough to meet his maker when the time came, because everything was changing a little too fast for his liking.

    I didn’t really understand his viewpoint at the time; however, Instagram and all the other social media platforms make me feel a little out of time myself these days. I guess I would be about the same age now as John was back then in 1967.

    1. TD, great insight and fantastic story. Although I’m probably around the same age as you, I have to admit I feel more like the younger version of you with an excitement about what life holds and a real verve for the future.

      Neither are wrong, it’s more about what you give than what you take.

  4. Content is key, true, but so is context. Unless your’e already very well known (like Stephen King), is Instagram really going to help you sell action-adventure novels?
    On the other hand, if you’re writing cookbooks or DIY craft books, Instagram is perfect — heck, even necessary.
    I think for most authors, Facebook is just the right size for their marketing needs.

    1. Mickie,

      Thanks for your thoughts, I agree with the cookbook/DIY idea, also keep in mind the age group targets, because younger people are engaging on Instagram.

      As for established “famous” authors, Instagram plays a bigger role than selling books. It’s more about fans connecting to the author and feeling like a part of the culture.

  5. Jim…I agree with the value of Instagram. I’m in the process of completing the first in a middle grade mystery series and have started #ing the title of the book and the series. Instagram is a site used by the age group I’m trying to reach. My efforts are in their infancy, but I definitely plan to expand my presence on Instagram. I tried the Chrome app, but since I have my iPad near at hand I think I’ll stay with using the mobile app. I’m also working on using Photoshop along with apps like Canva to manipulate my photos, adding effects, text, etc..

    1. Brenda, You’ve definitely hit the sweet spot with Instagram! Sounds like you’ve got your act together with the additional photo apps as well. Good Luck!

  6. Don’t join just to join. You should only join if you plan on being active and know you’ll have a steady stream of pictures to share. If not, it’s better to invest your time elsewhere.

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