Catching Teen Readers & Writers Through Instagram

by Maddyson Wilson

Today we welcome guest blogger Maddy Wilson, Write2Ignite’s new social media adviser specializing in Instagram.

Instagram, in my humble opinion, is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to access a teenage audience. But upon first glance, if you haven’t grown up around the social media giant, it can seem daunting.

I got my first Instagram account when I was twelve, in 2011. It wasn’t a personal account, but a “fan account” for a band that my friends and I liked. Over the course of the three years that the account was active, our little One Direction fan-page surpassed all of our expectations. At its height of popularity, it boasted over 20,000 followers, which was an extreme number for its time.

Nowadays this social media “influencer” is a culture that has branded its own version of celebrities with the likes of Tana Mongeau, Huda Kattan, Zach King, and Kylie Jenner. These people aren’t necessarily celebrities by past generations’ standards, but collectively, they have 163.2 million Instagram followers.

These are the people that teens are looking to. These social media influencers are aptly named, because that’s what they do. Sure, Tana and Zach create YouTube content, and Huda and Kylie both have makeup brands, but their main wheelhouse is Instagram. They get paid millions upon millions of dollars by brands to advertise their products. They are the people that the media watches to see what’s new.

Knowing that teens look up to people who have millions of followers, small groups may think Instagram success impossible to reach. But the truth is, you don’t have to have millions of followers to make Instagram effective, especially not in a smaller portion of the app like Bookstagram, which is what book bloggers and readers have dubbed the “book side of Instagram.” Here readers come together under hashtags like #reading and #writer and #amreading to share their love of books.

Here are five key tips ​every​ person who is trying to conquer Instagram needs to know.

Interaction

It’s so important that your account is active. Follow other brands and like posts by bloggers and authors. Comment and share posts. I’ve found that Instagram “stories” are useful for interacting with other accounts. You can share a post that you like to your Instagram story by clicking the arrow in the bottom right corner of the post and clicking “add post to your story.” Customize that story with GIFs and stickers and words as well. Being active on your account is insanely important for growing your following and connecting with people. Some of my teen author friends post once a day, but I personally don’t think that’s needed. A post every two days would suffice, as long as you’re keeping your account active by liking, following, and commenting.

Aesthetic

The aesthetic of your account is also important. People, teens especially, love to look at aesthetically pleasing pictures and accounts. I love @miss.ravenclaw.reads and her aesthetic, and especially @olivia.j.the.wordshaker. Both of their accounts are beautiful. If you’d like to start a theme with your account, clean out the pictures and videos that you’ve posted and start fresh. Instagram themes are all pictures that have the same filter or lighting. Some accounts have a “checkerboard theme” where they post, say, a picture of a book, then a quote, another picture, and another quote, and alternate like that. Overall, it just makes the account more pleasing to look at and makes the person looking at the account more apt to follow.

Consider getting a Linktree account. It’s a single place where you can put in links to your website, your Facebook, and anything else you may have, rather than putting it in your bio where people can’t simply click on it. Part of the aesthetic of your account is in how your bio looks. Here’s an example of a bio that would make the Write2Ignite account more accessible to teens:

“We’re Write2Ignite, a Christian non-profit focused on connecting YA and kidlit authors to the writing tools they need to hone their craft. Come join the fun!”

Hashtags

Hashtags are how your pictures get seen, but you want to be careful which ones you use. Some hashtags get more attention than others. Use only tags that are relevant to the picture rather than a set of tags over and over again. Instagram catches accounts that repeatedly use the same hashtags, like too many pictures, or comment too much. Instagram will “shadowban” those accounts, meaning that they can’t like or comment or post anything. Another thing most accounts do is separate the caption from the hashtags with spaced-out ellipses so readers don’t have to see the tags–most teens consider them an eyesore and think that they make the caption look cluttered.

For example, if you posted a picture of a quote from Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas with a picture of a candle behind it, you could use hashtags like #reading #candle #readers #writers #throneofglass #sarahjmaas and just be done with it. But if you really want the picture to be seen, use things relevant to the book. Here’s what I’d caption the picture as:

“This week, we’re loving Throne Of Glass by Sarah J. Maas–the perfect book to get lost in for rainy days like this. What are some of your favorite quotes from @sarahjmaas?”

Here ere are the tags I’d use:

#reading #amreading #sarahjmaas #throneofglass #acourtofthornesandroses #bookstagram #feysand #rhysand #nightcourt #vscobooks #bibliophile #becauseofreading #igreads #writer #amwriting #teenauthor #youngauthor #youngadultauthor.

You can insert 30 tags before Instagram blocks your post or shadowbans you. In my caption above, the third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, and ninth hashtags were all copied from other accounts who used the #throneofglass tag. All I did was go under the #throneofglass tag on Instagram and copy the hashtags that a fan account used. Hashtags that pertain directly to the book will get your post seen more than it would have been had you just used more basic hashtags.

Promotion

Under every post, Instagram gives you the option to promote. Promotions basically put ads in Instagram stories and on people’s feeds, starting at $5 for a one-day campaign or in the thousands for campaigns stretching over multiple months. It’s a great way to advertise and connect with people who may be interested in your nonprofit organization.

Relatability

Above all, teens want something they can relate to. That’s why my fan account with my friends prospered as much as it did: we were just three eleven-year-olds with this giant Instagram account, goofing around and posting pictures of band members we liked. People could relate to that. By promoting your account, using emojis and “text lingo” and making your account seem more open, you’ll be sure to catch the eye of teen readers and writers.

Are you just getting started with Instagram? Here’s a wikihow page that can help.

Maddyson Wilson is a young adult fiction author from the Piedmont of North Carolina. Her debut novel, Doubt The Stars, came out in November of 2017. Her second novel, Don’t Blame The Reckless , is set to release on July 12th, 2019 with Zenith Publishing. When not writing, she can usually be found with a coffee in hand and “Fall Out Boy” blaring through her headphones. You can find her on Instagram @maddywritesbooks.

Maddy is Write2Ignite’s new social media adviser specializing in Instagram.

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