Pinterest and Instagram: Image Marketing for Authors
Authors overwhelmingly cling to the comfort of familiar, text-based social media when trying to grow a following. A lack of graphical knowledge and a built-in talent for words make giants like Facebook and Twitter obvious choices for writers, but that’s not always a good thing.
Facebook and Twitter groups get oversaturated. Newer writers struggle to stand out in a sea of hundreds (or thousands) of identical new writers in the same genre. Sometimes the best option is to take a less beaten path, and that leads us to image marketing.
Image-based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have massive followings, including many people hungry for new books, but a much smaller number of authors crowding the spotlight. If you put in the work, you can earn a fantastic payoff later down the road. Who doesn’t want that?
Pinterest and Instagram: What’s the difference?
Pinterest and Instagram both launched in 2010, but they have completely different layouts and user bases. If one sounds more fun than the other, you might want to focus on that instead of struggling to master both.
Pinterest is a virtual scrapbooking site and an image-based search engine. It’s primarily geared towards people who want to store a bunch of pictures around a theme, project, or idea--which makes it perfect for crafters, artists, and fans of a specific genre.
Instagram is owned by Facebook. It pitches to a younger crowd and emphasizes lifestyle heavily, which makes it brilliant for behind-the-scenes photos and snapshots of your daily author life.
Which platform is right for you? Let’s check out some of the core details about how to survive and thrive in each, and you can decide which new online adventure is the best fit.
Off the bat, Pinterest has some distinct terminology that’s worth noting, particularly “pins” and “boards.” A pin is any image you post, and a board is where you post it. You can have as many boards as you like on any topic that you want. More about that below.
Since Pinterest is a search engine and geared towards people who are looking for something, you’ll want to get a business account (https://business.pinterest.com/en/) if you want to be discovered instead. A business account will allow you to promote and better tag your pins so that more readers can find them, and it will also allow you to see stats on how well your pins have performed. You can get verified by linking your site to your account, and then you’re ready to roll!
As with any social media platform, the first thing you want to do is make your account clean and easily searchable. Anyone looking should see that you are an author and find your books without hassle.
Your main boards should be things obviously related to your writing. You could have one board for your WIP, one for your past books and promotions, and one for your author blog. This variety will make it easier for fans to follow the part of your author career they’re most interested in and show that you are active and constantly adding on to your repertoire.
Pinterest also includes the ability to keep a board hidden. That means that you can keep your more personal pins (like DIY projects or elaborate hairstyles) to yourself.
This is a graphic platform, but not any picture will do. The strongest pins you can post are custom pins specifically designed for your readers. You can see one of mine below, made on Canva.
To help findability, it’s always a good idea to include tags, descriptions, and alt texts to your images before posting. Pinterest is a search engine, so these terms are critical in helping people find your posts. Keep in mind that Pinterest does not sort by chronology, but by topic and tags instead. That means that your strongest pins will be evergreen and constantly relevant, instead of notices of temporary sales and giveaways.
Bonus tip: Pinterest has an awesome plugin called Pin It! You can use Pin It! to pin images from your site and blog directly onto Pinterest without even opening a new tab.
Instagram started as an app and didn’t even have its current, limited browser edition until years after it launched. That makes it a huge win if you like doing social media work on your phone, but will require an adjustment if you prefer a desktop setup.
Just as with Pinterest, you’ll want to get a business account for Instagram, and you’ll want to spend some time setting up a killer author profile. Because Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts and only allows one in your bio, you’ll need to decide which link is the most important to you and share it there.
Unlike Pinterest, Instagram lives in the moment, and Instagram users especially love personal and human posts, such as behind-the-scenes shots of your workspace and day-to-day moments of your author life.
Quotes work well too, and there are many services online that can help you put together teaser quotes for your books like the one below:
One of the key elements to succeeding on Instagram is to keep consistent branding throughout. You can do this through the type of posts you create, through a favorite filter or a consistent color scheme, or any other way you can think to link your content together.
Each post should also use a number of hashtags, and most influencers are sure to post at least once per day. You can use Instagram stories to present quick and casual updates that will disappear after a time, and features like Instagram Live and IGTV also make the platform viable for live and pre-recorded video content, allowing you to meet readers in new ways.
Lastly, Instagram is a much more “social” media platform than Pinterest. Feel free to like, share, and comment on any posts you love and follow other authors who stand out to you. It’s all about making connections.
Which of these platforms sounds like the best fit for you? Have you experienced success with image marketing? Please share in the comment section below or join the Pen and Glory Facebook Group for further updates!