Updated: Aug 24
Instagram is a valuable social media platform which authors can use to build their brand, connect with their target audience, and drive book sales. Whether you’re preparing to become a first-time author or have already released your book, learning how to use Instagram for promotion can help you build your audience and increase sales. In this post, you can read about the following topics:
5 ways to promote your book on Instagram
Here are five effective ways to promote your book on Instagram and drive book sales:
1. Photo posts
On Instagram, you can post pictures or multiple slides of pictures (carousel). When you set your account to public, both users who follow you and ones who don’t can see your photos. In your posts, aim to either (A) directly promote your book or author brand or (B) allow your readers to get to know you more. Here’s more information regarding each motivation:
Directly promoting your book or author brand
While you want to avoid overtly promoting your book in each post, ensure your following is aware that you have a book available. When considering what to post, peruse your book and reflect on its contents. Aim to share photos that relate to your book’s message. Here are some ideas for promotional posts:
Pictures of the book itself: Sharing the cover of the book frequently can help readers become familiar with it. After seeing the cover multiple times, they may be more willing to purchase your book.
Images that relate to its contents: You can share photos that relate directly to your book’s contents. For example, if your book contains a story about your childhood dog, you might share a photo of you with this dog.
Graphics: Graphics can include a book quote or an endorsement. If you share graphics, ensure they align with your author or book’s brand.
Allowing your readers to get to know you more
Allowing your readers to get to know you better can make you seem more human and relatable. When consumers feel like they can relate to you, they’re more likely to check out your book. Aim to share posts that let your followers learn more about you, such as personal photos. For example, you can share a picture from a vacation. You might also share a photo of you completing a hobby, like baking a cake or taking a hike. While these images may not directly relate to your book, they can reassure your followers there’s a personality behind the author.
Instagram Reels are short, creative videos that allow users to capture, edit, and share engaging content with music and special effects. There are a few different approaches you can use for Instagram Reels. You might use trending audio clips that relate to your book and its message. For example, there may be an audio clip from a TV show that you can use to relay your message. Alternatively, you might share a Reel of you speaking to the camera, sharing your story or message, and touching on the felt needs of your audience. If you don’t want to include yourself in the video, you can use images and videos and include audio of you speaking.
Note: You can select an option for your Reels to not appear on your main Instagram feed.
Reels are an excellent way to reach a new audience organically. Instagram’s algorithm shares Reels with users outside of your main following. View your Reel as an opportunity to connect with users in a way that’s difficult using just a picture. For example, you might share an emotional story or allow viewers to learn more about your personality through the way you speak.
To learn more about using Instagram Reels to promote your book, check out my 4-Day Reels for Authors Training.
3. Hashtag search
Instagram hashtags are keywords or phrases preceded by the '#' symbol, used to categorize and discover content on the platform. They allow users to explore and engage with specific topics or themes. Ensure the hashtags you use are relevant and niche to your post. For example, I wouldn’t use a hashtag with over 1,000,000 posts. You can see the number of posts per hashtag when you type it out. Here are two strategies I recommend for using hashtags:
Using relevant hashtags: Find hashtags that relate to your book or Instagram post and include them in the caption. For example, you might include a hashtag like “#beachread” or "#salescoach".
Researching your hashtags: Peruse the hashtags that you use consistently and discover what other users are posting. If another user is sharing relevant content, engage with their posts or follow them, which can get their attention.
Instagram Stories are temporary photos or videos that users can share with their followers, which disappear after 24 hours. There are various features that Stories offers that you can utilize to engage with your followers. For example, you might include a question box, where you pose a question to your followers. You might also include a poll, which can inform you more about your audience’s interests or buying habits.
Sharing stories related to your daily routine or a fun activity can make you appear more relatable to your audience. Consider bringing them into your day-to-day journey of being an author and launching a book. For example, you might share a Story of a podcast interview or a book reveal. Note that you can turn a picture or video that you've posted to your Story into a regular post on Instagram. To do this, save the story as a highlight and then select it to be added to your profile as a permanent post.
5. Engaging with comments
Engaging with comments on Instagram is an excellent strategy for increasing visibility. Doing so helps you build relationships with your audience and encourages them to interact with your content. To begin a dialogue with users within your target audience, share a brief story that relates to the post. This may be a user you already follow or someone new who you’ve never engaged with before. Sometimes these users are potential readers who see your comments and check out your profile. Responding to users’ comments on your posts fosters a sense of community and encourages others to join the conversation.
Maintaining consistency on Instagram
Posting consistently on Instagram is one of the most effective strategies to grow your following and introduce a larger number of users to your book. If you’re like many of the authors I work with, writing books isn’t your full-time job. With Instagram, like other social media platforms, the more effort you put into it, the more you can get out of it.
Consider setting time-based goals, such as 15-30 minutes a day, that you dedicate to using the platform. Another effective strategy is dedicating an hour at the beginning of each week to prepare all your posts, reels, and stories and saving them as drafts. Then, all you have to do is share the content throughout the week at your convenience. Try out different strategies until you’ve found one that works best for you! Here are some rough estimates of how frequently I suggest posting and engaging with other users on Instagram if you are looking to grow your presence on the platform:
Photo posts: 3-5x per week
Reels: 3-5x per week
Stories: 3-5x per day
Engaging with comments: comment on 3 posts per day
Note: if you are happy with the size of your following, you can decrease your frequency and focus more on maintenance and engagement.
Boosting a post
To boost an Instagram post means to promote it with paid advertising, increasing its reach and visibility to a wider audience beyond your existing followers. You might try spending $15 to boost a post and see what comes of it. One effective strategy is boosting a post that contains a lead magnet, which can increase the number of subscribers to your author email list. Note that boosting posts isn’t a mandatory strategy to increase followers and engagement, but it can be a helpful promotional tool if you have a marketing budget.
While you can find success promoting your book on Instagram, it’s important to note that it can take time to reap the rewards of your efforts. At first, you might feel as if you’re promoting to no one. But the Instagram algorithm rewards consistency. If you post and engage often, and provide value to your followers, you can develop a following.
Typically, consumers have to see a book many times before they decide to purchase it. A person might not be ready to buy your book for various reasons that are out of your control. If this happens to you, don’t become discouraged. Remember their situation can change in the future. If you post and engage with users consistently and foster a community and trust, your followers are more likely to see your content and consider buying your book when their situation changes.
Read more: What to Expect as a First-time Author
The most important thing to remember with Instagram (and any other social media platform you use for promotion) is to be authentic and focus on connecting with the felt need of your audience. Always aim to provide content that your target audience will find valuable. Unlike some other more text-based social media platforms, Instagram is image/video-based. Try to keep your profile visually pleasing and cohesive to your brand. Taking the extra time to create or find the right eye-catching images will be worth your efforts.
Whether you’re in the midst of the writing process or have already finished your book, now is the perfect time to consider a marketing strategy. To help you get started, I’m offering a FREE download of my guide, 10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch. This valuable resource is packed with expert tips and strategies to empower you to craft an effective book launch and connect with a larger audience of eager readers.