This Week

Hey Bookish People,

I don’t have an Instagram experiment for myself this week. I’m undertaking quite a few things for July so I’m going to make sure I can balance all of them before I throw something else into the mix. I’m also stalling on doing another experiment on my account until I get a better idea of how this recent Instagram algorithm change is impacting my account. I feel like I got really mixed results the last couple of weeks and that’s making it harder to pick something that I think might help and makes any results suspect.

I’ll be participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month to work on the next novel in my Keepers of the Extraordinary series. I’ve been working on outlining and brainstorming the story for some time now so I’m excited to actually begin to put it down on paper and to spend more time with old characters that I really love. As you can imagine that project is going to be taking up a big chunk of my time.

I’m also going to be participating in a zero plastic July challenge with the zoo I volunteer with. Volunteers and staff at zoological institutions all around the country are competing against each other to have the most participants at their institution and to take the most actions to reduce plastic waste in their lives. I strongly believe this is an area I could do better in, and that it’s something I should get better at, so I’m doing what I can this month to reduce the plastic waste in my life.

I know that this transition will take an initial investment of time and energy but that it’ll get easier as I learn. I went grocery shopping yesterday and have already started to change some staples in my diet to have less packing and I’m looking forward to those choices being the new normal. This month is sure to be a learning process and full of baby steps.

I’m also working on rebranding and rethinking the purpose of my other blog and have made a commitment to relaunch it in August so that’ll be my other big project. This month is going to be busy but I’m excited about all the things I’ve committed to and I know that my work and life will feel more in line with my values by the end of it. It’s a good feeling!

What are you guys up to this month? Anyone else participating in interesting challenges? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! And don’t forget to follow the blog as I continue to explore Instagram, branding, and writing.

Happy creating!

Apologies and Instagram Update (6/29)

Hey Bookish People,

Sorry about suddenly disappearing this week. Honestly, I needed to take a step back from social media myself and with the new algorithm on Instagram I thought it was a good time to hit pause. As we’ll see in my numbers this week the new algorithm did not treat my account kindly and I’ll share my thoughts about this at the end of the post.

Followers: 177 (+4)

At least my following grew by a few people.

Reach and impressions stayed fairly stable this week and the number of profile visits actually went back up a bit so I’m happy to see that!

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Engagement was down this week pretty significantly on some posts.

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Likes didn’t do so great either.

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People still commented on posts but again, it was lower than the last few weeks overall.

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Last week I talked about including data on Reach because I realized it might be more useful than Impressions. Some posts are being seen a lot less or more which gives me clues about style and hashtags to use or avoid in the future. I don’t have anything to compare it to so this will be my starting point for comparison.

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Impressions were a little lower this week but not by much.


While I do feel that the new Instagram algorithm had something to do with my lower engagement this week I think I am also partly responsible. I didn’t really think about this until I was looking at my data and I can see that the two lowest performing pictures were a very distinct style. Clearly that did not work at all and people weren’t into it, so as fun as I thought they might be, they aren’t something to replicate in the future.

My highest performing post this week was actually a repost (which I almost never do) with timely hashtags.

As far as what I’m going to do in terms of the new algorithm I think that I’m going to hold off on taking any action and keep posting as I’ve been doing. Instagram is showing users what it thinks they want to see first and so I think a focus on good content is my best bet at the moment. I already have a pretty great loyal small group on Instagram so I’ll just continue to focus on them and keep improving the account with better quality pictures and captions.

How has the new algorithm helped or hindered your account? Is it something you’re worried about? Let me know in the comments and follow the blog to keep up to date on the newest posts.

Happy Creating!

 

 

 

 

Social Media: Sometimes it’s ok to step away

Hey Bookish People,

I wanted to talk about something a little more serious today. Instagram and other social media platforms are an important part of brand building but I think it’s important to say that it shouldn’t come at the cost of your well-being. For a lot of people it is a rough time to be on social media. I know that I’ve been struggling with some recent imagery and news stories and I wanted to talk about how I’m dealing with that.

The first thing I’ve done is to step away from any social media I don’t find crucial. I use Facebook purely for keeping up with friends and family but the prevalence of negative posts has led me to not check it at all. Instagram is also flooded with things that I’m finding hard to view so I’m limiting my time there as well. I post daily, I update my Instagram story, and I will go straight to certain accounts that I like to follow and check what they’re posting but I am allowing myself to spend far less time scrolling.

Being on social media should not come at the cost of your mental health.

I’m not saying that we can avert our eyes from the things that are happening in the world. Far from it. Take action and keep learning how to do better. However, sometimes once that action is taken it’s time to step away and recharge instead of spiraling into despair.

If you need to take a step back right now and deal with your feelings then please do so. Go write, draw, take a walk, read a book, take a bubble bath, go on a run with your music turned all the way up, or whatever healthy distraction you enjoy. Just take care of yourself. Social media will be there when you get back and you’ll be better for it.

 

 

 

Instagram Experiment Update (6/22)

Hey Bookish People,

Today is Instagram experiment recap day! Monday I revealed that my goal for the week was to post on Instagram stories every day 3 times a day to see how it would impact my followers and engagement. Let’s take a look at the results.


I’ll start with the basics:

Followers: 174 (+3)

Total number of posts: 237

Not my best week for follows, not my worst. I don’t think I can say that posting in my Instagram stories frequently did much for my following that my Instagram posts weren’t already doing.

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My impressions are much higher than last week but my Reach, which is arguably more important, was about the same as last week. What’s most concerning is the steady decline I’ve seen in profile visits the last few weeks. I have no idea why it’s been declining but it’s something I’ll be thinking about.

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This was a pretty low week for engagement. Considering that this week was higher in Impressions than previous weeks and almost equal in Reach there might have been something about what I was posting this week that didn’t work well. Some of these weren’t my best photos (I failed miserably at capturing the book cover without glare), there wasn’t a lot of flow in my grid, and I committed a crime in posting two pictures of myself which was not intentional. This week might have been a failing on my part to post good content. I’ll be thinking about that and how I can do better next week.

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My likes were slightly lower than last week, not by much, but a downward trend is worth paying attention to. I think the same reasoning as above applies.

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I did pretty well on comments this week although this number of comments is starting to get close to average for me which is awesome! I do spend a lot of time thinking about my captions and I feel like I wrote some good ones this week so I’m happy it’s paying off in terms of getting comments consistently. If you want to see how I write my comments, check out this post.

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My impressions this week were variable but consistent with previous weeks. I’m not sure how to use this data quite yet and I think that I should start including my Reach information as well. Mostly at this point I’m using this information to see if there’s a big gap between people taking action (liking, commenting) and those seeing my posts.


If I had to give my general impression about Instagram stories I’d have to say that using them didn’t boost my account too much. I do have a handful of dedicated viewers right now (which is great!) and I find Instagram stories fun so I’ll continue posting but I’m not sure I would consider this a way to grow my following. I think that it’s an experiment worth revisiting in the future especially once my following has gotten larger to see how that impacts my account.

I still do think using stories is worth my time, even if only to stretch my creativity muscle, and I’m excited to continue to tweak that strategy as I move forward. Don’t forget to follow the blog to see what my next Instagram experiment is going to be and to catch my social media and creativity tips for writers and Bookstagrammers.

If you missed my posts this week you can check out my Instagram story advice here:

Happy Creating!

 

Instagram Story Engagement and Other Tips

Hey Bookish People,

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s focus on Instagram stories on the blog. I really think they’re worth investing in and learning as your audience grows. Today I’m going to talk about some fun features to engage your audience in your Instagram stories.

  • Polls: This is one of my favorite feature on stories. You can add a question to your post and either leave yes/no answer options or change them to something specific. Have your audience vote on the content of your next blog post, what book you should read next, or have them help you decide your next book characters name. There are a lot of fun possibilities that help your audience connect and become invested in what you’re doing.
  • Emoji slider: Similar to polls this is a way to pose a question to you audience but it’s a way to gauge their level of interest/approval about something. Maybe you want to know how interested people are in a story idea, or your outfit, or you just want to know how cute people think your dog is. Ask away.

Audience feedback can only help to improve your account so give it a try!


Now a though on safety: Instagram is a wonderful platform that I’ve really come to enjoy using but like all social media platforms we need to think about the information we’re putting out into the world. Because Instagram stories aren’t usually curated to the same degree as our feeds we are much more likely to post in the moment. When we include our location through a location tag (or just through the photograph itself) we’re letting our entire following know exactly where to find us. I’m going to ask you to reconsider posting in the moment for this very reason. I almost never post in the moment. I let a few hours lapse for safety reasons whenever my location is obvious.

Think about how much information we’re giving out when we post things that include our location. Sometimes we’re giving out information about our routines and as our audiences grow it’s not something to take lightly. So please be thoughtful about how you’re conveying information, consider keeping some information to yourself and strike a balance that feels right to you. It’s even ok to plan what you’re going to post on Instagram stories well in advance. This is just something that was on my mind after yesterday’s post and I wanted to get everyone thinking as well.

Thanks for joining me this week in learning about Instagram stories. Tomorrow I’ll post about how using Instagram stories consistently this week worked out for my account growth and engagement. Be sure to follow the blog to make sure you see it!

Happy Creating!

 

Instagram Stories and the Writer

Hey Bookish People,

Yesterday we talked about the basic features of Instagram stories and today we’re going to talk about something a little more interesting; what to post! I feel like the prospect of having one more Instagram things to worry about can feel a little daunting at times but I want to remind you that this is an area that writers can really have fun with.

I think Instagram stories should…tell a story. It doesn’t have to be a long one. I went with three posts a day for my Instagram experiment this week because I didn’t think it would be hard to do and because I think that it’s enough posts to engage my audience with a topic. None of it has to be hard and it can even be fun.

For example, yesterday I introduced a hummingbird that hangs out in our yard. That alone isn’t a story, but I posted that the second time I spotted the hummingbird he was fighting off another hummingbird so he could keep one particular flowering bush in our yard to himself. I told my audience that because of this incident, and finding out that hummingbirds are actually really territorial, I named him Chad. I then posted a super short video of Chad buzzing about the yard. In three posts I told a quick story, brought people into a different aspect of my life, and injected a little humor as well.

Think about your day to day life as a writer and see what threads and storylines keep coming up. Are you in an endless fight to keep your chihuahua off the bed (like I am) yet you keep finding them on it? Are there interesting people in your life you’d like to share with your audience? Do you spend a lot of your free time doing an obscure hobby? Then work it into your story. Think about the following topics when you’re trying to figure out what to post.

  • Interesting people
  • Goals you’re working towards
  • Animal shenanigans/cuteness
  • Book reviews
  • Take your audience through your day
  • Funny things that happen to you
  • Scary things that happen to you (or whatever is on brand for you).
  • Your creative process

Those are just some jumping off points but think of yourself as a character in a book you’re writing. What are some of your quirks or interesting things in your life that your audience might enjoy hearing about? Perhaps you write cozy mysteries with a knitting theme. Share your knitting work in progress complete with dropped stitches (bonus if the dropped stitches and recovery are part of the story), share your yarn store of choice, how you prepare your (or main characters) favorite beverage, and any little mysteries that arise in your own life (the mystery of the missing keys…).

The best thing you can do is to post things that will make people curious, feed their book love, and keep them coming back for more. I hope you’ll give posting to Instagram stories a try. If you do, let me know in the comments and link your Instagram account so I can check it out! Don’t forget to follow the blog since we’ll continue our Instagram story conversation tomorrow.

Happy Creating!

The basics of Instagram stories

Hey Bookish People,

As promised, today we’re going to talk about Instagram stories. I’m excited to talk about this part of Instagram because there’s so much you can do with them and a large part of Instagram is either using or viewing stories. Instagram stories have 300 million daily users and if you’re trying to expand your audience then that is a lot of people to ignore.

Today we’ll cover some of the basics of Instagram stories. To get started just click on that camera icon in the upper right hand corner of your Instagram app.

What kind of content can you post?

  1. Pictures– You can either take one through the Instagram app (when you open the story feature) or you can use a photo you’ve already taken by clicking the little photo square in the bottom right hand corner. My personal preference is to use photographs I’ve taken out of the app. This allows me to make sure it looks the way I want without extra steps and I can take a full photograph or a square one. If you take square photographs (which I recommend for cleaner Instagram posting) you can pinch that image into a square on Instagram stories and give you a visually appealing post that gives you extra room for text or stickers. beacg
  2. Video– I like to post video on occasion but only about once a day. Again, this is a personal preference because in my own experience if I see a person with 12 videos in a row on Instagram stories (unless I REALLY like them or its of a puppy), I’m likely to just skip the entire story sequence. I’m not very interested. Do post video because it makes your stories interesting or highlights something you’re talking about but do post mindfully.
  3. Live video– You can also go live on Instagram. I’ll admit that I haven’t used this feature yet. I have a goal I want to meet before I go live for the first time and I’m hoping I’m close. There are benefits to Instagram live that make it worth using. Your users are notified when you go live, which is a great bonus for getting eyes on your content and keeping your name on your audience’s mind. On the other hand, much like video, I think it can be abused. Go live with a topic in mind, keep it short, and make it worth people’s time.
  4. Text– You can either lay text over pictures and video, or Instagram has added a feature that allows you to post just text in your Instagram stories. I don’t use this feature very often. I can certainly see where this would be useful but I keep a selection of floral/plant pictures on my phone to use as a pretty background for text posts. Experiment with this feature and see how it works for you and your brand.

You’ll find that there are other options to posting on your Instagram story but I think that these are the four main types of posts you’re likely to use. Now we’ll talk about essential additions to your post. Instagram stories have stickers that you can use to dress up your post and to make it easier for people to find you. Once you have a picture/video selected and up on the screen you’ll see a row of options in the upper left hand corner. Click on the sticker that’s closest toward the middle of the screen.

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  1. Location– Tag either your city or a specific location (restaurant, park, movie theatre) to help people find your posts. Some people browse through Instagram stories by city tags and it’s an easy way to get seen by more people.
  2. Hashtag– Hashtags are just as important on stories for visibility as they are on your main feed. Use the hashtag sticker to display the most relevant hashtag on your post.
    • Tip: If you want to include more hashtags then you can do so by using the text feature. Click on the Aa icon and start typing. Type up to 30 hashtags (even though I wouldn’t advise using that many) and then pinch the text so that it gets smaller. You can pinch it so small it won’t be visible on your post but you will get the benefit of visibility from those hashtags.
  3. Mentions- If your story is featuring another person or a brand then tag them for the same reasons you would in a post.
  4. Stickers- Have fun with all the sticker options that Instagram has to dress up your pictures.

Again, those are the bare basics of Instagram stories. Start there and explore the other fun features that Instagram has to offer. If you’re looking for ideas about what to post then check out this older post. Tomorrow’s post won’t be as basic but I wanted to make sure that we had a foundation to build on. Follow the blog to learn more about Instagram stories tomorrow.

Happy Creating.