My friend Kate Hanley has been micro-blogging on Instagram to promote her latest book, How to Be a Better Person: 400 Simple Ways Make a Difference in Yourself — and the World, and I’ve asked her to write this guest post about why and how she’s doing that, and what results she’s seen. Kate is an author, yoga teacher, and personal development coach who helps busy women focus on the things that matter so they can stop stressing about the things that don’t. In addition to working one-on-one with clients, Kate teaches and speaks at companies and events about mindful time management, avoiding burnout, and finding work-life balance. Learn more and get her free decision-making matrix at her website. Follow Kate on Instagram, too.
How I use Instagram to sell more books
By Kate Hanley
When it comes to social media, I love Instagram above all other platforms. I used it strictly for personal purposes, primarily to share photos of my kids and my daily life. (Which may explain why I loved it; it was a work-free zone!) But as I was creating a promotion plan for my newest book, How to Be a Better Person, I hired an online marketing consultant who challenged me to re-think that.
Pointing out that I had nearly 500 followers and that my posts generally got a decent level of engagement, she convinced me that my Instagram feed was too good a promotional opportunity to ignore.
I saw her point, but I was nervous; I loved Instagram because it wasn’t the frenzy of promotion that Facebook has become. I didn’t want to contribute to the noise.
Presuming I could get over that hurdle, I also didn’t know how to use a visual medium to promote a book that’s filled with tips that are related to changing your outlook.
Together, we worked out a plan to spend one week on each of the eight sections on my book as a way of giving first and inviting people in to the book instead of merely asking them to buy—which can feel like a big ask to someone who doesn’t really know you and not likely to be very effective.
For each post with the themes, I decided write two to three paragraphs about the tip I was posting a photo of—call it micro-blogging. As a writer, this was a way for me to get excited about using a visual platform for something work-related.
Micro-blogging helped me come at book promotion from a spirit of giving and inviting, and not so much about “pay attention to me and buy my stuff!” That helped ease any reservations I had about using my Instagram feed as a promotional tool.
Tech-wise, it hasn’t been seamless. I’ve typed most of these posts on my phone with my thumbs, which is slow-going and painstaking, but I feel it’s important to have access to an emoji keyboard to stick with the conventions of the platforms and to infuse tone.
You can install Gramblr on your computer and then upload photos from your hard drive and use your nice big keyboard to post—I just heard about this and am looking forward to trying it out!
One thing I have come to love about Instagramming for work purposes is that it shows you exactly how popular each hashtag is, so you can choose hashtags for your posts that jibe with your content and that will help new people find that content and, hopefully, follow you.
Instagram is also more conducive to building relationships with other followers whom you might not know in real life—perhaps it’s the heavy use of emojis and tagging that really engages people and makes it feel like a friendlier place.
Make sure you reply to all comments and use emojis to connect with your commenters, and people will be more likely to share your posts with their followers (although they, and you, will need to download an external app—I prefer the Repost App—to share other people’s posts to your own list.)
I released a book last May called Stress Less, which I didn’t do much social media promotion to support—mostly because I was on deadline to write How to Be a Better Person when it came out! (Having two books come out in the same year is kind of like having Irish twins; one will naturally get less attention when the other is more needy.)
Of course, the fact that How to Be a Better Person came out in prime new year/new you season (it was released on January 2) probably has something to do the strong first-month showing, but if you can boost book sales doing something you enjoy and that helps you engage directly with your readers, why not?
Other cool Instagram ideas I’ve seen:
- Develop 30 days of content counting down to a holiday that has some relevance to your subject matter in your own version of an advent calendar. Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement is a whiz at this.
- Post a picture of a stack of three or five books and saying you’ll give them away to three or five lucky winners who post a comment that answers a particular question (perhaps something you’re looking for feedback on).
- Ask readers to post a picture of themselves with their copy of the book and tag you and/or use a specific hashtag
If you’re on Instagram, I’d love to connect with you there! I’m @katehanleyauthor. And if you’ve seen other great book promotion ideas implemented on Instagram, I’d love to hear about those too—please leave them in a comment here!
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