Hi friends! This is part 2 of my ‘how to’ series. The first post answered questions about book blog tours and can be found here. My goal with this series is to help new and future book bloggers to know how to do the typical book blogging things and understand how to get involved in the community. There is a lot to learn within the book community so I hope I can help with this series of posts.
For this post, I hope to cover specific bookstagram questions along with account growth within the book community.
What is Bookstagram?
Bookstagram is the term used to describe the book side of Instagram. Many book bloggers, authors, or avid readers have Instagram accounts solely dedicated to books.
What is an aesthetic and how can I get one?
The word ‘aesthetic’ has to do with beauty, the way something looks. People often use the word when referring to Instagram accounts that are pleasing to look at or matches in some way. People often spend lots of time working on their aesthetics, but how can you get one.
Some simple tips I have for getting a cohesive look for your bookstagram include color, editing, and props.
Color is a big part of having a bookstagram aesthetic. Every account who’s aesthetic I enjoy (including my own) uses color to contribute to this effect. Some only use color in order to keep their posts cohesive and pleasing.
Other accounts, use props to pull together their aesthetic. Some use the same props in every picture so that way they all feel like they’re each a part of a whole. Some use the same prop(s) to keep a consistent color scheme. Some use different props that are all the same color. There are many different ways to use props to make your bookstagram account look and feel however you want.
Another important aspect to achieving a bookstagram aesthetic is editing all of your photos the same way. I have a preset filter that I use on all of my photos to ensure they all look more cohesive.
How do I think of captions?
For me, consistently coming up with captions and content is the hardest part. Luckily, there are other generous creators out there that have made lists of questions or general caption ideas that always help me to think of things to post with my pictures. Some of my favorite posts that have been helpful and that I often reference are linked below!
- Bookstagram Caption Ideas | Julie Anna’s Books
- 70 Creative Questions to Ask on Bookstagram | Yuki Reads
- 5 Handy Bookstagram Caption Ideas to Enhance Your Posts | The Book Family Rogerson
How do I gain followers?
This is a question any Instagrammer asks at some point in their life, but with bookstagram, growth is a little different (and a little easier in my opinion). My three basic tips are engage, follow, and analyze.
Engagement is so, so important to Instagram growth. The Instagram algorithm tends to favor accounts that have more comments, likes, saves, etc. What that translates to is engagement. The more people that are engaging with a post or an account, the more Instagram will show your post/account on other people’s feeds. But how do you get people to engage?
You have to engage with them first! People in the book community generally return favors of engagement. For example, if you give a shoutout to an account on your story, chances are, they’re going to do the same to you. Not always, but I’ve found that this is generally the case.
Now, big accounts, such as those with many thousands of followers, usually don’t return engagement. They are generally receiving so many notifications that they just don’t have the time or energy to shoutout and comment back on every post and story that tags them. So, for best results in return engagement, stick to the smaller accounts that have 2000 or less followers and are active on their account.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t engage with bigger accounts or you should only engage with accounts for growth because it is a lot of fun chatting with fellow book lovers. But when you only have 30 minutes that day to spend on Instagram growth, those are the accounts you should target. Plus, it helps them grow so it’s a win-win.
Some other ways to encourage people to engage on your posts include questions in your captions, polls or questions in your story, or eye-catching and beautiful pictures/animations. Some of the posts I linked above give great examples of questions that are open-ended and encourage other users to answer. However, it’s really up to you when it comes to content creation. Create the content that you enjoy and then posting captions and stories will feel more natural and enjoyable.
Similar to engagement, in order to get more followers, you have to follow people! Now, this doesn’t mean you have to follow every person that follows your account, (it’s still good to use common sense and be cautious where you feel it’s necessary), but I like to follow any bookish-related user or author that follows me.
Like engagement, generally smaller accounts are going to be the ones to give you a follow back, but don’t be afraid to follow the big accounts. They usually have big followings because they contribute to the community in some way. Whether that’s through beautiful pictures, thoughtful captions, or frequent giveaways. There is always something to learn from these accounts, but I’ll cover that later.
Usually, I try to follow a few people each day who have lovely feeds or nice captions. Just as an example, for every 10 people you follow, about 5-8 of them will follow you back. So if you follow 20 people everyday, you can see how fast your following will grow. This isn’t an exact number and every account will see different statistics, but this is an approximate amount I’ve seen for my account.
As a word of advice, don’t be the jerk that follows someone only to unfollow them the next day. There are so many users out there who want their follower count to be bigger than their following so they follow a bunch of people to try to gain follow backs then unfollow them all the next day or the next week. If you follow someone, stick around. Engage with their content. Contribute to their growth. Now, if you really don’t like someone’s content, but don’t want to unfollow them for some reason, you can mute their account. Just don’t follow only to unfollow soon after. It’s bad Instagram etiquette.
There are really two sides to this analyze topic. One, analyze statistics and see where you need to focus or improve. Two, analyze big accounts and see what they’re doing that you aren’t.
Statistics can be taxing and boring for those who aren’t very interested in Instagram growth. Even for many who are, it can be a hassle. But, it can be very beneficial to understanding what your followers want from your account. A couple of the main statistics I like to focus on are the days and times that it is optimal to post and what main factor(s) directed users to my post. I’ll start with optimal posting times.
One of Instagram’s features is allowing users to see when the best times to post are according to when their followers are most active. But how do you see this information? First, you have to make sure you have a business account. Once, that is settled, go to your profile page and tap on ‘Insights’. From there, tap on ‘Total Followers’. It’s in the ‘Overview’ section and will show the number of followers you have right above it. This page will give you a breakdown of your followers. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can then see the hours and days your followers are most active. With this information, you can post your images at times when you will likely have a larger audience on Instagram to see it.
Moving on to post insights, here’s how you can see this information. Start by going to your profile and tapping on any post for which you’d like to gain information. There will be a banner that says ‘View Insights’. Tap on those words. From there it will bring up a new window with all the insights for that one specific post. These insights will help you to understand where how many people saw your post (i.e. impressions) and where they came from to get to your post (i.e. profile, home, hashtags, other). I find these insights are especially helpful when it comes to hashtags (which I’ll talk more about below)
How often should I post?
Post frequency is ultimately up to you, but, generally, the more you post, the faster your account grows. Of course, there are many other factors that play into account growth, but a big one is post frequency. Followers like to know that the accounts they follow are active and engaged.
I post every day to Instagram, but that doesn’t mean you have to. 3-4 times a week is what most marketers recommend for optimal growth and activity. This could put you posting every other day or maybe even every 2 days. Whatever you decide, make sure you’re doing what is best for you.
Are hashtags important?
YES! Hashtags are going ‘out of style’ right now, but their practical use is still very relevant. Did you know you can follow hashtags on Instagram they same way you follow users? Yup. It’s true. So you may be following the hashtag #books, for example, so anyone who uses that hashtag on their post will then show up on your feed. What that means for you is that you can reach a bigger audience than just the users that follow you. You have the potential to reach hundreds or even thousands of users depending on the hashtags you include.
You can only have 30 hashtags per post so I usually put my thirty in a comment right after my post is published. Sometimes I put a few hashtags in my post caption, especially when I’m promoting a book as part of a blitz or blog tour, but not all thirty.
Should I use a post planner?
Instagram/post planners can be so, so helpful. I use Planoly to plan and schedule all of my posts, but another popular service is Tailwind. Planoly has lots of free features that include letting me plan out captions, see my future feed, and schedule posts which is why I prefer to use it.
If you plan on posting frequently to your bookstagram, it’s helpful to use a planner because you can schedule posts for the week (or even the month) and plan out everything that you need to. I much prefer this to creating captions and manually posting every single day. That is an unnecessary hassle that no one should have to go through. haha
I think that is all the insights I have as of now to bookstagram. Give me a follow on Instagram @thebookviewblog to stay up-to-date with books I’m reading, reviews, and other bookish content. As always, if you have any further questions or comments about bookstagram or any other topic, leave a comment below!