One year ago, I was ready to take my passion for books to the next level. So I decided to enter a community I’d been following for a few months- bookstagram.
It looked like a great creative outlet, and a chance to make friends with similar interests.
Initially, I had very little idea about engagement, following or exposure.
The start of my account was rocky and uncertain, but I soon realised what was helping my account to grow and what wasn’t.
So today, I thought I’d round up some key strategies to grow your bookstagram account and gain exposure.
What is bookstagram?
Bookstagram is a corner of Instagram where users come together to share their love of books and post bookish content.
What started as an incredibly niche community has grown immensely over the past year; searching for #bookstagram on Instagram will bring up millions of results.
How to start a bookstagram account
Like any other Instagram account, the first step is to come up with a name that sums up your account.
Choosing the right handle
Seen as bookstagram is all about books, it would be useful to have some link to books or reading in your handle. Some examples are reading, lit, books, bookshelves and fiction. You could even link it to a particular genre or even series that you love.
My bookstagram handle is @wanderingthroughlit. This sums up my account nicely; a mix of reading content, cosy aesthetic and some wandering.
You can choose whether to include your name in the handle or not. This depends on whether the focus will be more personal or whether it’ll focus more on the books.
Write a great bio
Your bio should include some insight into you as a person and what to expect from your account. For Bookstagram, you could include your current read, how many books you’ve read this year or a bookish fact about yourself.
You should also include a link in the website section, for example a link to your website or goodreads.
For the best engagement, include keywords that will help people in the bookstagram community to find your account. Some examples are reading, YA, romance, fantasy, bookworm, writer and blogger.
As you can see from my accounts, highlights are just as important as the bio- they’re a visual way for potential follower to get to know you. Include the things that important to your account- the things you want people to associate you with.
Building a solid account from the beginning
Now that you have the basics of your account set up, it’s time to start growing, and for that, you need a solid foundation for exposure.
Make sure you have a business account
If you’re serious about growing your account, you need to be able to view your analytics and engagement rates. For this, you’ll need a business account.
This is free and easy to do. Go to your profile – settings – account and select ‘switch to creator account’. This is the best option, unless you are planning on selling products.
Once this is set up, you can access your analytics in the ‘Insights’ section of your profile- we’ll be coming back to this later.
Consolidate your niche
It’s important that you narrow down your niche, without excluding potential followers.
If you’re on bookstagram, a big part of your niche will likely be books. You might also want to include other aspects of your life, like nature, self-care, writing or travel. You can narrow your niche down even further than this. For example, cosy images with books, books in nature, maybe a focus on bookshelf photos.
I began my bookstagram strictly focusing on books (mainly flatlays), and over time, began sharing writing tips and general cosy flatlays.
Creating a consistent theme
Now that you have a niche, you need a cohesive theme. Having high quality and engaging photos is important, but having a consistent grid is even more so. This is the first thing potential followers will see when they go to your profile.
In this post, I sum up the key tips to crafting a cohesive theme right from the start of your account, including what time of day to take photos and how to edit your photos.
Start posting regularly
The more posts you get out in the first few weeks, the more exposure you’ll get, i.e. the chance of people seeing your posts.
I’d recommend posting at least once a day for the first few weeks, and then you can settle into a routine that suits you better.
I post at least every other day, sometimes every day, and I’ve found this is what gets me the most engagement. Consistency is the most important thing- posting twice a week every week is more effective than posting every day one week, then not at all the next.
Engage with the community
Once you have a few posts up on your account, start reaching out to other accounts in the community.
Some great ways to do this are:
- Find accounts to follow in your niche. You can find these accounts by searching hashtags, for example #bookstagram or #bookcommunity.
- Like and comment on posts- try to be genuine, this isn’t about just gaining a quick follower.
- Reply to people’s stories or message them. Please don’t spam people- this isn’t effective and it’s also rude. Instead, chat about your favourite reads or ask questions. I’ve formed some great friends on bookstagram, just from chatting about books.
How to Grow Your Bookstagram Account
If you’ve followed all the previous tips, you should now have the beginnings of a solid account. Now- how do you continue to grow it?
Put Time into your account
The number 1 tip always has to be consistency. If your account is just for a bit of fun, you don’t need to worry too much about this. But if you’re looking to grow it, you need to put aside time for it.
Bookstagram tip: as well as posting regularly, ensure you reply to comments on your photos. This will increase your engagement levels and encourage people to continue commenting.Tweet
Not only are these a great way to meet other booklovers, they also draw new potential followers to your account. Teaming up with similar accounts means their followers will find your account and will likely find your content valuable.
You could collab with other bookstagrammers for sfs (shoutout for shoutout) sessions or collab with brands with sponsored content.
Remember- a large part of growing your account is ensuring you keep your current followers. For this, there needs to be a certain level of trust. When running collabs, make sure the content is within your niche and it is something your followers will find valuable.
Run competitions and giveaways
This is a great way to not only give back to your current followers but draw new accounts to your page. The prize doesn’t have to be extravagant- it could just be a book of the winner’s choice or an amazon voucher.
The usual format for these kinds of giveaways is to ask participants to follow your account, and tag 2-3 other accounts in the comments. This will widen your reach and accounts that might not have seen the giveaway otherwise will be notified.
Mix up your hashtags
I won’t lie- hashtags are a pain. One minute they’re driving new followers to your account; the next, they’re completely dead, and you’re not sure if your posts are even showing up under them.
They take time to get to grips with but are totally worth it if you use them effectively.
Don’t Underestimate Instagram Stories
If hashtags are the best way for finding new followers, stories are the best way to keep your current followers engaged.
Depending on what your account focuses on, the things you share in your story will be a little different. A general rule is to use them as an opportunity to show a ‘behind the scenes’ look. This could be a sneak peek into your photo-taking session, an in-person update of your current read, or even a life update.
Stories can also be useful for ad placement. Usually, a greater percentage of your followers will see your stories than your posts. Therefore, using short story ads for brand collabs or personal promotion is an effective strategy.
The Power of Reels for Exposure
Reels are a relatively new thing so they might seem a bit scary, but they’re simple to get going with. You could share book lists, unpopular opinions, photo set-ups, or anything else you can think of!
What sets reels apart is the increased reach they have. As they’re a new thing on the platform, Instagram places extra importance on them, and so they have a much wider reach. For example, my recent reel on ‘books I bought on a whim but ended up loving’ had 45K plays. This is much greater than the reach my posts usually get.
Find out what does best on your account
I told you Instagram analytics would come back into play. Within the Instagram app, you can find a whole range of handy information about your account.
On your profile, find ‘insights’. Here, you’ll be able to see:
· How your reach has varied over the last week: which posts have gained you the most reach and engagement. Look for patterns on which posts do best (e.g. a certain set-up, specific content), you can replicate this for future success.
· How many followers you have gained over the last week.
· What locations your followers are in (this is helpful with different timezones)
· Most active times- make sure you are posting at these times whenever possible.
Do you have a bookstagram? Are these tips helpful? I share more tips and behind-the-scene moments in my Instagram stories and reels so go find me there. Or you can leave a comment down below- I’m happy to answer any questions.