What is Instagram?

(Mostly relevant for children and YA books…)

What’s this thing called “Instagram” that all the cool kids seem to be completely obsessed with lately? Well it hasn’t been around for too long, so don’t feel embarrassed to ask. According to Smart Insights Instagram is one of the TOP 5 social media platforms today.

Instagram is a social networking app made for sharing photos and videos from a smartphone. It can be viewed from a PC typing in www.instagram.com but you cannot physically interact with accounts/post photos from a computer. It is essentially a ‘mobile-only’ app.

Similar to Facebook or Twitter, everyone who creates an account has a profile and a news feed. When you post a photo or video on Instagram, it will be displayed on your profile. Other users who follow you will see your posts in their own feed. Likewise, you’ll see posts from other users who you choose to follow.

Why Use Instagram?

We know what you’re thinking… Not another social media platform! BUT Instagram isn’t new anymore. Instagram launched in October 2010 and has steadily grown in membership since then. This platform is tried and tested. It’s getting bigger and better and if growth is any indication, it will be around for a long time to come. Here’s three reasons to add Instagram to your toolkit :

Creating an Account on Instagram

Instagram is a FREE app. You can sign up via your Facebook account or by email. All you need is a username and a password. You may be asked if you want to follow some friends who are on Instagram. You can also customize your profile by adding your name, a photo, a short bio and a website.

Using Instagram as a Social Network

Instagram is all about visual sharing. Every user profile has a “Followers” and “Following” list, representing how many people they follow and how many other users are following them.

Every user profile has a button you can tap to follow them. If a user has their profile set to private, they will need to approve your request first.

Interacting on posts is fun and easy. You can double tap any post to “like” it or add a comment at the bottom.

If you want to find more friends or interesting accounts to follow, use the search tab (marked by the magnifying glass icon) to browse through tailored posts recommended to you. You can also use the search bar at the top to look for specific users or hashtags.

Applying Filters and Editing Your Instagram Posts

When you tap the middle Instagram button, you can select the camera or video icon to let the app know whether you want to post a photo or a video. Capture it through the app, or tap the photo/video preview box to pull up a previously captured photo/video from your folder.

Instagram has up to 24 filters you can choose to apply to photos, and 13 for videos. By using the icons just below the preview of your photo or video, you can adjust the brightness, cover frame if it’s a video and editing features.

Sharing Your Instagram Posts

After you’ve applied an optional filter and possibly made some edits, you’ll be directed to a tab where you can fill out a caption, tag other users to it and simultaneously post it to some of your other social networks such as Facebook or Twitter (note that the image will not show up on your Twitter page, only the text and a clickable link to your Instagram account).

How to Use Instagram as an author/publicist

If you are thinking of setting up an Instagram account for your book, author or one of the imprints; here are our TOP TIPS to best maximise traffic to the site:

#instabooks#‎booksofinstagram #‎bookstagram #‎booksigning #‎ilovebooks #‎newbooks #‎bookselfie #‎freebooks

Of course there are heaps of genre specific hashtags which you can find easily by typing in # followed by an appropriate word to search what hashtags exist and which ones are used most frequently.

Instagram + Book Giveaways/Competitions

Instagram is a great way to increase followers and to get traffic headed over to your other social media platforms and/or website. For example, for #WorldBookDay2020 Crystal Peake offered readers the chance to win a book.

We created a series of 4 images in total and altered them to fit the exact image sizes for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (stops any squashing/cropping of images across the platforms).

We simply posted an image once a day, tagged #RelaxKids in each post and used appropriate hashtags to get the images shared across as many pages as possible without being spammed (I.e. ‪#‎BookGiveaway & ‪#‎competition are considered spammy on FB but are dynamite on Twitter & Instagram).


  1. Piggybacking onto an international/National holiday works best as hashtags are already circulating the Social Media Networks (‪#‎WorldBookDay created over half a million Tweets in 1 day).
  2. Start your campaign ahead of the actual date (we started ours the day before but it could have started a good week in advance to create even more momentum).
  3. Know your Hashtags for each individual platform. For example, they don’t work particularly well on Facebook as they use Edgerank, an algorithm to determine what your audience sees, meaning that posts can be quashed rather than spread according to what FB consider ‘newsworthy’ posts. Twitter & Instagram however… go hashtag crazy without losing the posts main message.
  4. It’s all about the images. People will RT or share a post if it looks pleasing and they want to see it on their own pages.
  5. Like people’s related comments, tweets and posts and RT where possible. Stay on top of it during the competition.

As with all social media platforms, you have to input considerable time (certainly at the start) in order to get anything out of it. Simply creating a profile, uploading pretty photos and hoping people will discover you will not work. Follow people, like others people’s photos, leave a comment from time to time “Great photo!” and you’ll soon start to see other people reciprocating the favour.

How to Increase Your Followers & Interaction

You’ll notice that many of the ideas below are focused on increasing engagement (likes and comments) and that’s because lasting engagement naturally leads to followers.

As you implement the strategies below, keep in mind that there’s no substitute for regularly posting engaging, creative and relevant images that your audience loves.

Remember that having a large number of followers is useless if you don’t take the time to really engage and interact. And in the end, converting followers to customers is the real goal.