Monday, January 22, 2018

5 Tips for Using Instagram with help from YA Experts

An attempt to be an artistic photographer by me, 
something that might generate the following comments:

"No, mom, don't post that!" 

"Mom, you're posting too often. People will stop following you."

"Mom! What did I tell you about posting too often? No one likes that."

"Mom, really? That's two posts in less than 24 hours. Just don't do it."

"You probably didn't get many likes because you posted too often, or because you posted at the wrong time of day."

"Why did you post this picture? Just why? It doesn't even match your feed."

These are all real quotes from my in-house YA Instagram experts. These aren't even half of the advice I've received, but merely the comments I've heard the most often.

From these quotes, you might imagine that my daughters are: a)somewhat snarky* b)opinionated c)regular Instagram users who follow current trends d) all of the above.

The answer is D: all of the above. See * at the end.

Five Tips for Using Instagram from In-House and Online Experts:

1.  DO NOT post more than once a day. DO post at least once a week. 
My daughters both feel that Instagram "stars" like dancers, authors, book reviewers, and professional organizations should not post more than three times a week and that once a week is best. Individuals might get away with posting each day or once a month, if they are only using Instagram as a social outlet and not for any professional purpose.
Lifewire and other articles I read agreed with not posting more than once a day, but stated that posting every other day to five days a week had good results.

2. Post at specific times for the best results.
According to one article I read, posting between 5-6 pm on Wednesdays had the best results, but posting before work/school and after work/school on any weekday had decent results. I've noticed that consistency is best, no matter what time of day you post. I follow an editor who always posts in the mornings, and she has a great following on Instagram. So, to gain followers, consistency at specific times is good. I have a tendency to post randomly so I can't say I'm an expert at this, ever.

3. The subject matter in your feed makes a difference. 

Choose five main areas of your life to share with your Instagram followers. Mention these in your tiny bio space and rotate through pictures of those areas of your life with your post content. This keeps your feed familiar but different enough to keep your followers' interest alive. Some experts say that posting "behind the scenes" random moments of your day can work, too, but I know from my daughters and their friends that a chaotic feed will lose their interest unless they know you from their personal life outside of social media.
So, for instance, my bio and my feed were a bit chaotic, so I just organized it into these five main categories: family, outdoors, writing, reading, and life-adventures. You might notice that some of these categories are broad because I still have a tendency towards randomness. (Again, I'm not an expert, just trying to learn along with everyone else.)

YA writers: do not post too many pictures of your kids. Teen readers don't like their parents posting too many pictures of them on social media and so they often don't like seeing an author do the same to their kids.

Selfies are also considered "out" by many teens unless they are used for a purpose: a new author photo, a special event, an interest in fashion, demonstrating dance or yoga or active movement, or to show a hobby.

Keep pictures of your book to a minimum unless you just released a new one in the last month or you've won an award. YA Instagram users will stop following, even if you post your book with the outdoors, travel photos, your cat, and your dog.

Amateur photos are okay to expected. Just don't post "live" from an event without double-checking your grammar and the image you are using. I have messed up that way, much to my chagrin. Also, keep "live" posts to just one in 24 hours. That's tough if the "next" photo is "even better." The Instagram stories section is a better place for those photos.

Users will check your overall feed to see the themes of your posts. Check your feed for posts that don't fit your themes and consider cleaning out some old photos.

4. Use hashtags wisely. 
Hashtags are seen as both useful and annoying. It all depends on how we use them, where we use them, and when we use them.
Use hashtags to alert groups of group-based posts and to alert all Instagram users of the subject matter of your posts.
Hashtags are best used in the end of a post statement, after you've written a little about your image or video post.
Use only one to five hashtags per post. If you feel you need more than five, then keep those kinds of mega-hashtag posts to once a week.
#theiwsg #amwriting #writing #writersofinstagram

5. Keep it colorful, active, and interesting.
These three adjectives may seem as clear as mud, but consider the fact that Instagram is a visual place and many users are young adults. Followers like to see an array of colors or tasteful black and white photos. Wordy posts can work for writing challenges, but regular followers may fade away if we post those too often. Active posts show the outdoors and/or activities of any kind (from rock-climbing to embroidery). Interesting is the toughest word here. What interests us? That's what we need to think about. Stay true to your own interests and you'll find followers of similar interests.

Bonus: If you've already broken all of these rules (I know I have), just note that these tips are for the "best"way of posting. Who knows, maybe you and I, rule-breakers, will have our own rule-breaker following?

Pictures of the outdoors, of cats and dogs, all animals, world travel, and inspirational horizons will always have their place on social media. But, your posts need to be yours. Cityscapes can also be popular, if you would rather post pics of skyscrapers than mountains.

Why do YA Instagram experts matter? While Instagram is making waves in multiple generations of social media users, the YA crowd used Instagram first. They use it more often than Facebook and Twitter because those sites have been taken over by their parents, grandparents, and politics. They also use Snapchat, but don't ask me about that one. I really don't know, yet.

Articles I read before I posted this:
7 Tips for Using Instagram for Business May 2017
10 Instagram Tips for Beginners January 2018
26 Instagram Tricks You Can't Afford to Miss May 2017
14 Tips for Getting More Followers on Instagram updated May 2016
How to Post on Instagram Like a Pro May 2017

BTW - My daughters and some of their friends follow me on Instagram so I often get instantaneous feedback from them verbally or via text. Sometimes, I take their advice and sometimes, I ignore it. I'm just stubborn that way.

*My oldest daughter and I are considering writing a book together entitled: 15 Ways NOT to Have a Successful Conversation With Young Adults. (Don't worry, we made each other laugh through 15 different conversational faux pas all based on real life experiences.)

Do you use Instagram? Are you a YA writer? Do you get tips for social media from young adults you know? See anything huge that I missed? (If so, please add it in the comment section.)

#TheIWSG is on Instagram, and although I'm admittedly no expert, I am the admin there. We're having #WriterWednesday Post Challenges and in February, I'll start posting regular #MotivationMonday photos. In March, I plan to add in some #FridayFiction Prompts and hold some hint fiction writing contests - winners or notable entries to be featured every other week on Fridays.
 Insecure Writer's Support Group on Instagram

If you are on Instagram and would like to see #TheIWSG take on a daily challenge for a month, or every month, please let me know in the comment section. I'm willing to come up with daily challenges, but I know from past experiences that I never seem to keep up with those kinds of challenges on my Instagram feed.

And, if you are really in need a of a humorous post about active versus passive voice, go here: Can you add by dinosaurs? I found this post when prepping for teaching today.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a lot to remember although some of it applies to about any social media. Like blogging more than once a day - no one wants to see his feed filled up with the same blogger.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I agree with Alex re how some of the tips here apply to social media in general. I know I always appreciate consistency in the bloggers I follow/read.

I don't know anything about Instagram. Maybe I'll check it out one of these days. :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the tips. I don't use Instagram at all. It is good to know what to do though I need to focus on getting on Facebook and Twitter more for now.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm a reluctant Instagram user, so I do it but not with a lot of enthusiasm. I'm more likely to react to a post there than create one. Great tips, and like others have said, they could apply to all social media. Thanks, Tyrean.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I wondered about using too many hashtags. I'll make sure DLP limits them and only sends out a picture a week, two at the most.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Your kids are no different than mine! I get text messages from my kids about every post. The only thing safe is my blog, which only proves they're not reading it. LOL

krystal jane said...

What's funny is I listened to a webinar the other day that said the more hashtags the merrier. LOL! In my most liked post, I used 9 hashtags! >.< But everything I've read does agree about the posting no more than once a day. So far, I'm just trying to remember to post once a week. I like the 5 hashtag thing, though, because I think that's the max you can use in the caption section without looking greedy. LOL! I've noticed some people hiding excessive hashtags in the comment section. I'm on the fence about that. Haha.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Alex - I know. I probably won't remember all of them, and I'm usually more of a rule-breaker and bender on Instagram than a rule-follower of the best tips. However, I'm trying to find ways to do my best for IWSG.

Madeline - yes, most of the tips apply to most social media.

Natalie - Instagram isn't used as much as twitter or facebook, which makes it a "new" place and the rules will probably change to some extent.

C.Lee - I started with Instagram that way and then started using it more and more.

Diane - I think you could do 2-3 and it would be good. I've noticed that it helps - it really depends on which age group of audience you want to reach.

Elizabeth - I don't think mine read my blog either. I'm sure I'd be getting a text message about this one, if they had. :)

Krystal - I've seen that advice, too, and then the opposite. That's why I think a good 5 hashtags for most posts, and more for some posts works best.

The Cynical Sailor said...

I love the fact that you have in-house Instagram experts :-) I used to be on Instagram, but found it too challenging when we didn't have easy access to Wi-Fi as it can eat up our cellular data. I did like looking at all the pretty pictures though.


Chemist Ken said...

Man, I've been thinking maybe I should be checking out Instagram, but after seeing these rules I'm having second thoughts. For one thing, I suspect my feed would be chaotic at best.

Mark Noce said...

Lol:) Well, I think it looks good. Besides, rules are meant to be broken:)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Groan.... I need to do more in Instagram. Thanks for all the advice.