how to use instagram stories

If you’re an author, there’s a good chance you’ve hit that “boost” button on Facebook, shelled out a little (or a lot) of money and hoped for the best. And in recent years, this was a great choice. Facebook marketing has been a cheap, effective way to reach consumers. But, as you know, the world of digital marketing changes as often as a new iPhone comes out. As a social media platform, Facebook is trending downwards.


A recent SimilarWeb study found:

Traffic to Facebook.com has fallen from ~8.5 billion visits per month to ~4.7 billion over two years. 

So where is that traffic going? Analysts are finding that users (especially younger ones) are being drawn to more image and video-driven platforms like Instagram. Business Insider recently reported that:

Facebook just isn't as cool as some of its younger rivals. Instagram is loved by younger users. It is less crowded than the main Facebook app, and perceived to be a kinder social network. Meanwhile, Facebook is losing its grip on users' attention, with time spent on its primary service down 7% year on year this month.

With this data in mind, how should writers respond? We believe that now is the time to add Instagram to your social media marketing plan. You may be thinking, that’s simple enough. Take a photo, post to Instagram. Use a few hashtags. Done. Well, yes, that part is simple and we encourage you to start there if you haven’t already. But there is another feature of Instagram that we want you to try: Instagram Stories.

What is Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories is a feature that allows you to post images or videos, which will remain visible for 24 hours, then be automatically deleted. The stories are featured at the top of the user’s feed, so they are very easy to access and highly visible. Users can quickly click from one user’s “stories” to the next.

Unlike typical Instagram posts, there are additional features available that offer exciting marketing opportunities, such as clickable hashtags and mentions. More on that later.

If you’re still not sure what we mean, open the Instagram app, click on those circles at the top and click through to get a feel for the feature.

How should writers use this feature?

This is where your creativity comes in! There are so many potential ways to use Instagram Stories to market your book. Here are few we came up with:

  • Give your followers a peek at your writing essentials. Show them your favorite pen, notebook or laptop. Take selfies at your preferred writing spot or with your favorite barista. Share your go-to Starbucks order or a must-have writing snack.
  • Tease your book cover art or even use the “poll” feature to get your followers’ votes on their favorite cover. (After posting an image or video, you can swipe up to find the “poll” feature and many more).
  • Showcase the work of other authors in your genre that you admire. “Share” their stories or posts on your account. This helps to establish you within the space and will also be greatly appreciated by your fellow authors. Here is an example of how author Ruth Simmons (@gracelaced) shared an image of receiving Emily Freeman's new book in the mail. Notice how she tagged Emily and also used the hashtag for the book. gracelaced
  • Share images that relate to your book. Are you writing about golf? Share the most recent post by the PGA or your favorite golfer. Be sure to use hashtags popular with the golf community. Are you writing about church leadership? Share a meaningful quote by a church leader you admire. Be sure to use the “mention” feature so they see your post. They might even “reshare” your story on their own account, which will get more eyeballs on your page.

Do you want some great news? All of those ideas are free! If you have a decent camera phone and an Instagram account, you have everything you need to implement these ideas.

If you want to go beyond organic reach on Instagram Stories, we recommend that you try some paid ads. Your ad will simply show up in Stories just like all the others, but with a note that it is sponsored. Just like Facebook, you can choose which users you would like to target and you can set a daily budget. There is a great post on Neil Patel's blog that explains all the details of paid Instagram Stories marketing.


How one writer is nailing Instagram Stories


Finally, we thought we would share a fun way that bestselling author and speaker Jon Acuff is using Instagram Stories. Jon is currently writing his seventh book, but this time he’s decided to share his Untitled design 1process with his followers. Every few days, Jon posts a few videos on Instagram Stories detailing how many hours he’s spent on his manuscript and exactly what he’s done during that time. Some days he works on a chapter, others he drafts letters to publishers and some days he brainstorms ideas with his wife. Many days include a variety of writing activities.

By pulling back the curtain a bit, Jon is not only offering helpful content, but he is also increasing interest in his upcoming book. And you really couldn’t ask for more when it comes to social media marketing.

Are you ready to up your social marketing game, but feel a bit overwhelmed? Certa Publishing offers a variety of marketing services, from one-time consulting to a complete overhaul of your social media plan. How can we help you? We would love to hear from you today.

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