It was a full four years ago that Facebook bought Instagram, and since that time, Facebook has also started to copy its sister network’s top features—specifically, Instagram Stories. (This is after Instagram copied it from Snapchat, of course—but then, Mom always said imitation is the best form of flattery. I’m sure Snapchat agrees.) Snark aside, Instagram Stories quickly established itself as a powerful way to make connections with followers and raise your profile on both of its new networks.
How’s it work? Stories allow you to pull series of posts and graphics together into a series that is viewed together. Even better, Stories are given priority placement on your home page. When you log into your account home page for either network, the most recent Stories are featured at a glance on the top right sidebar—no scrolling necessary.
Although Stories are only visible for 24 hours, this can bolster their impact, instead of harm it. Followers know if they don’t give it a look while they can, they’ll miss out forever.
But what use is all this to you as an author? Can an author use Instagram Stories to build a real platform?
Absolutely you can! Heck, it’s called stories. This is what we’re all about. It’s just a different way to think about both posting and telling your audience about yourself.
Here are a few ideas to get you started and inspired:
1) Share your day at a book festival
Whether you are part of the festival programming, participating as a vendor to sell books, or just attending as a fan, a book festival is full of adventures and new bookish discoveries.
A Story can be an awesome way to share highlights of your experience—your table or presentation, the other authors you meet, the moments you get most excited about—throughout the day.
2) Promote your next book launch
A book launch is the time to pull all the stops! That should definitely include a Story if you are on Instagram or Facebook (or both).
What belongs in your book launch story? Many of the types of images you would already share in your posts are likely a good fit, from the cover reveal to review quotes to that first time you get to open up a box of your beautiful fresh ARCs—even a launch party invite or tour dates.
What other ways can you share your launch with visuals? Consider the book’s themes and go creative.
3) Celebrate an awareness day
The literary community has no end of calendar events to participate in throughout the year. Independent Bookstore Day! World Literacy Day! Hobbit Day! Your favorite authors’ birthdays! (Any excuse for a party, amirite?)
Pull together a few snapshots and/or graphics and join the celebration.
4) Show fans how to participate in a giveaway
The skim-and-slide format of a Story’s series of images makes it an accessible and fun way to share step-by-step instructions. So the next time you run a giveaway or other contest, try using a Story to break it down into easy steps.
5) Pick a theme, any theme
You don’t have to wait for an event or awareness day to try your hand at Stories! Make up your own excuse and start having some fun with it right away.
Your Story could focus on anything from “A Day in the Life” to a a spotlight on your creative process, or share a few funny and cute pictures of your pet or images of the books you’re inspired by. Readers love to get a glimpse behind the curtain and learn more about who the creator is.
Looking for more inspiration? Try following these Insta-brilliant authors for examples:
At time of writing, all of these authors had at least one Story in their profile.
Happy posting, authors!
By day, Emily Wenstrom is an author social media coach and content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.