July 19, 2018

How to Make Instagram Work for Authors, Part 2 — Guest: Monica Corwin

Silhouette of photographer against sky with text: Growing Our Brand with Instagram

While I’m at the RWA Annual Conference this week, Instagram expert Monica Corwin is here to teach us how we can use this popular and fast-growing social media platform as writers. Even though it’s primarily a visual medium, the large Bookstagram community is proof that writers and authors and book lovers of all types can find their tribe on Instagram.

Last time, Monica shared tips about how to come up with and develop our visual content, as well as how to optimize our Instagram page. Today, she’s brought insights and tips on how to use Instagram to help grow our brand. Yay!

Once again, please welcome Monica Corwin! *smile*

(Note for newsletter readers: To see Monica’s examples, click through to the post to view the images.)


Crash Course:
Instagram for Authors, Part 2

by Monica Corwin

Instagram is an under-utilized social media form among authors. Mostly because it’s visual in nature, and many authors assume it won’t be beneficial to them. But Instagram can benefit creators of written media as much visual art forms.

Last time, we talking about optimizing our page on Instagram, and I mentioned the circles underneath my picture, highlights and stories. Remember that a story is a sort of temporary post on your Instagram. It disappears after 24 hours if you don’t make it a highlight.

Today, let’s talk about how to help your brand with Instagram, including using stories and growing our followers.

How Instagram Stories Can Help Our Brand

Monica's example of our Instagram page
When you post a story you want ‘pinned’ to the top of your feed like those circles, click the little highlight button on the bottom of your story when you watch it. This will keep it around forever in those little clickable bubbles.

So make sure you choose what you want in there. You can make a bubble all about your favorite soap, or all about you. Make sure you hashtag them, and make sure they fit your look/brand.

I also use mine to post who has featured my books on their feeds. It’s a good way to build community, just tag the person on the story post.

An Instagram story looks like this to those who click. Once you reach 10,000 followers, you will be able to add slide-up links to these.

Instagram story example

Another option is videos instead of still images. Authors like Victoria Schwab use stories in a great way to build community and readership.

You can check her out, and others, and try some similar things. Just don’t copy anyone, and if you reuse content, always, always, always, ask permission and make sure to cite your source.

Instagram Followers: Let’s Grow Together

Growth is the hardest thing to do on any social media. Even worse when that social media is constantly changing things.

Instagram is owned by Facebook, which means it’s subject to the same “interaction rules” as Facebook has been employing—only showing some images to some people some of the time based on what they think a person wants to see. The way to get your content shown to more people is by having more interaction.

What counts as interaction? Likes and comments.

The comments must be over five words or it doesn’t count. If you are able, try to respond to all your comments. It will boost your interaction level to the algorithms.

Growing at a basic level is as easy as liking people’s posts and following them. Many times they will follow you back. Sometimes they won’t. And then rinse and repeat every day. It’s slow going.

How can authors use Instagram to grow their brand? Check out @Monica_Corwin's tips... Click To TweetThere are some automatic growth programs out there that like and follow automatically, but be advised Instagram will shut you down if they notice your account showing strange activity and think you are using one of these.

When it comes to interaction, I advise calling on your friends. Ask for people to like and comment on your posts.

Many people form pods, or little groups of people, who all like and comment on each other’s posts. Instagram frowns on these, but as long as there is genuine interaction, there usually isn’t a problem.

You can also garner a little more growth with your tags. If you post with a product or a book in your images, tag the creator of it, and sometimes they will share it for you. This helps bring new eyes to your feed.

You can also bring in outside help. Use cover models, cover artists, editors, all to help you promote as well.

For example, my cover model Daniel Rengering posted a shot with my book. This will also help bring in fresh eyes.

Example of cover model post

Also make sure to ask questions on your posts. Give your readers something to grab onto.

I always end with a question; this helps prompt that interaction response. The bigger the connection to the question, the more answers you’ll get. Such as, if you ask about last night’s Game of Thrones finale, you are sure to get a lot more interaction than if you ask what you should eat for dinner tomorrow night.

Once you post, share, share, share. You should share it to your Twitter and Facebook if you are able. The more avenues of interaction, the better.

Instagram Settings: Business Profile or Personal?

You can switch to a business profile on your settings box. The great benefit to the business profile is that you get stats about your audience and when they are interacting with your feed.

On the downside, as a business profile you have to fight harder for that visibility. I recommend staying with a personal feed until you get over 1,000 followers.

Bonus Tip: Encourage Instagram to Push Your Content

I have one final note to impart to you: Use the new tools. Whenever Instagram rolls out a new tool, they will push content that’s using it.

So if they roll out something new, like the new IGTV they just released, they will automatically show people that content more so they can evaluate the new tool as it’s being used. It’s a great way to try something new while letting Instagram help you promote for free.

Whew! I think I threw a lot at you guys there. Feel free to ask me any questions, or follow me at Instagram. I’ll very happily follow you back. <3

To wrap it all up, Instagram is a community, just like any other social media community. Go into it seeking to make connections and friends, and you’ll do great!

Monica Corwin


Monica Corwin is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. She is an outspoken writer attempting to make romance accessible to everyone, no matter their preferences. As a Northern Ohioian, Monica enjoys snow drifts, three seasons of weather, and a dislike of Michigan football. Monica owns more books about King Arthur than should be strictly necessary. Also typewriters…lots and lots of typewriters.

Find Monica at:
Facebook | Twitter | Website | Instagram | Bookbub


About Twelfth Floor

This isn’t your high school Shakespeare.

I have thirty days to block my secretary’s advances.

I have thirty days to prove my worth as Illyria Pharmaceuticals’ CFO.

I have thirty days to help my boss fall in love with another woman.

Pretending to be in charge is harder than it looks. Duke Orsino, the CEO, sets my knees quaking with every glance. Olivia, my secretary, leaves unmentionables in my desk drawers. And I have no idea where my twin brother got off to.

I have thirty days to keep this shipwreck of life from falling apart.

Twelfth Floor is a contemporary romance adaption of the Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night.

This is a stand alone romance with an alpha hero, a not-so-alpha heroine, and lots of foul language.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo


Thank you so much, Monica! Once again, your guest post made me want to set up an Instagram account, just so I could start growing it right away. (And if I weren’t at the RWA Conference this week, I might have! *grin*)

I especially appreciated Monica’s advice about what it takes to gain followers. As she said, Instagram’s ownership by Facebook influences what works and what doesn’t, so we can apply our Facebook knowledge about interaction to this platform as well.

While growth on any social media platform often starts slow, real followers who interact with us are also the type to be interested in our work. Instagram’s fast growth overall means that we might want to take advantage of its potential for finding and meeting our readers. *smile*

Do you use Instagram now? If so, do you use the stories or highlights feature? Does this post give you ideas of how to improve your brand with them? Do you have any tips or insights to share? If you’re not on Instagram, did this post open your eyes to features and possibilities you didn’t know Instagram could do? Do you have any questions for Monica?

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Jen Crane

I found both of these Instagram posts to be supremely useful. Since reading it, I created a LinkTree account and looked into the business profile. Super informative. Thanks so much, Monica and Jami!

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