As well as filling you in on my writing adventures, I thought I’d also start writing some blogs about the other side of self-publishing: PROMOTION. “Promotion” is a scary word. I’ve come to discover that promotion is hard. Stupid hard. The thing is, it should be easy. Stick a few posts on your favourite social media sites and watch the comments, ‘likes’ and (hopefully) sales roll in. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that. So, I looked for help.
And help did arrive.
In this case, help came in the form of a blog post titled “How to gain a massive following on Instagram” by Courtney Seiter over on Buffer (this reminds me, I really need to use Buffer again). I use Instagram a fair bit – mostly to show what I’m working or what gigs I’m at – but I’ve never used it as a proper promotional tool. The blog is packed full of ideas (go and give it a read), but the two takeaway pieces of info that I’ve found really useful are:
- Post every day. Admittedly, I’ve slacked a little this week, but last week I went all out and posted something on Instagram EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not only did I update my Instagram every day, but I also posted on Twitter and Facebook. As Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are different beasties, I’d recommend tailoring your posts for each site. Sticking a photo up on Instagram and then sharing it on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t cut it. Believe me, I’ve tried it. The best thing to do is to have an experiment and see what works best for you. Images, videos, polls, etc, are all fair game.
- Hashtags are your friend. This is mainly relevant for Instagram, but I suppose you can also use it to a lesser degree on Twitter and Facebook. Up until last week, I used hashtags sparingly. I didn’t want to look like a “hashtag knob”. However, I’ve now seen the light and I can see their use. But, which hashtags do you use? On her blog, Courtney Seiter recommends a few tools that can help. I gave them a go and I found that Display Purposes was super easy to use and produced great results. Basically, you pop over to the Display Purposes site, stick in a couple of hashtags and it will come up with a load of suggestions. For instance, throwing in #Horror brings up #HorrorJunkie, #Horrorgram, #Horrorfan, etc.
So, does it actually make a difference?
Yes, it does. Since using these two methods, I’ve seen an increase in Instagram followers and interaction. I’ve also seen more action over on my incredibly quiet Facebook page. Once I saw people were engaging with the posts on Facebook, I had a go at boosting a post and I saw an almost instant improvement. Well worth a go if you have a couple of quid in your budget for this kind of thing.
Words of Warning: As I’ve mentioned above, I have been quite happily plastering my Instagram posts with hashtags and I thought it was all going so well until I saw a link to a blog being shared on a Horror Writers group on Facebook. Despite this being a group full of people talking about the scary things that they’d written, the title of this blog was the scariest thing I’d read on there. It was called “How to avoid blocked hashtags on Instagram” (written by WordyNerdBird). It offers great advice (that’s not the scary part!), but the idea that certain hashtags were blocked on Instagram had never crossed my mind. I thought it was a free for all! But, now that I know about it, it kinda makes sense. You don’t want to see stuff that’s going to cause offense, do you? Now, the bizarre thing about all of this is that the #Books hashtag is (or was at the time of the blog being published) BLOCKED. Yes, you read that right, that poor innocent little hashtag – and an obvious one for an author or bookworm – is blocked. It has been banished to Instagram Jail. So, if you’re an author (or a book fan) and you regularly use Instagram, steer clear of #books and maybe replace it with #bookstagram or something similar.
I’m going to continue on my social media journey and see if all of these new engagements turn into sales once “Hellhound” is published. I’ll keep you posted!
In the meantime, please feel free to share any social media tips. You can leave a comment on here, or catch up with me on any of my social media profiles.
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