I’m someone who has been on bookstagram for…well, let’s just say a good few years. I’ve only recently reached 500 followers. Which compared to the big accounts, isn’t many. I know this. But I’m still proud. Because it’s a huge amount compared to what I had even a year ago. I’ve learned how to utilize bookstagram, and though I wouldn’t claim to be an expert – my follower count would suggest otherwise if I tried to – I have learned some things that might help people out.
So today, I want to talk to you about some things I’ve learned, some things I think we should all think about, and a few things that might make you happy.
To Theme or Not to Theme
I’ve seen people say that having a theme in your photos can help you out. This might be true. I’ve never tried to have a theme for my photos. I take them when and where I can, so I don’t want to limit myself. But they can help your page look neater. On the other hand, they can also be very samey. Whether you’re using the same props, layout, or whatever. It can feel like you’re seeing the same pictures over and over.
I’ll admit, my photos are pretty similar a lot of the time. But I also have the freedom to do something totally different if I want to take a standing photo or one outside. That’s what works best for me, as I don’t want to have the same over and over.
So what I’ll say is: it’s up to you. You don’t have to have a theme if you don’t want to. Maybe it does help. You’d need to ask someone with a theme. Or maybe if you don’t have many followers, it won’t make a difference. If having a theme makes it easier for you, or you like it? Do it. If it seems like too much, or you want to be free? Don’t have a theme.
When it comes down to it, a theme isn’t a necessity. Bookstagram is supposed to be fun. So don’t stress about this.
If you’ve been on Instagram for more than five minutes, you’ll know the algorithm sucks. It truly, truly sucks. Why do we still use the site? Oh, right, good places for photos and interaction about books. We want to keep using it for that, and sadly, that means making a bit of an effort to make people engage.
Obviously, using tags and tagging any businesses can help. That can get your photos seen by a few more people. But the algorithm doesn’t favour that. Even if you interact a lot, it doesn’t mean it’ll help your photos.
What you need these days is an engagement group. Or two. Or three. I think I’m in like 5, and that gets me around 500 likes per photo. A wonderful number, huh?
Engagement groups tend to have different rules. But the best ways for your photos to be seen are saves. So if you like and save a photo, you’re helping more people see it. If you’re in an engagement group you can tag your photos, and other people will engage with your photos, just as you engage with theirs. It can really make a difference, and even popular bookstagrammers wind up having to use these groups. If you’re wondering how to find them, just check out the tags on the photos in your feed. Hopefully, you’ll find an open one.
You can also participate in follow trains. I don’t really like these as I don’t want to have to tag people. I don’t like tagging people to participate in things. I did one recently, and it helped me finally get to 500 followers. And the numbers have kept growing, even after I deleted my comment. So they are worth it. Just try not to go crazy.
So many people will tell you, don’t worry about the statistics. As long as you enjoy doing it, that’s what matters. And as much as we all wish we could ignore them, we know we can’t. Especially if you’re a small bookstagrammer trying to grow. However many likes you get, followers you have etc? That does matter to the publishers and businesses that you might want to work with. If you want to be a rep or if you want to use your influencer skills to help promote books and small businesses? You need a lot of interaction.
It really isn’t as simple as saying – they shouldn’t matter. Because it does, and saying it shouldn’t matter can make you feel bad. So if it does make you feel bad, you’re not alone. I still feel like I have a lot of work to do. My statistics do matter to me. Because I want to use my account to promote myself to other businesses. I do my best, and I enjoy doing it. But I want to be able to do more.
So if you feel this way too. That’s okay. If you don’t care about statistics then that’s great too. Just remember that. Though to some extent, we do need growth, we do need interaction. And yes, though it can be upsetting when something flops – we can just push through and keep trying. You’re not alone when it comes to feeling bad. And it’s okay to do so.
Book Tours and Readalongs
Finally, we’re onto the treats!
You may have seen people being sent books as part of tours on blogs or Instagram. But the beauty of bookstagram tours? They tend to be run through separate companies that are on Instagram themselves. Depending on where you are, there are different companies, so I won’t try listing any. Some of these will allow a few smaller accounts on the tour. So get following and signing up. You might get lucky, and get the chance to read and promote a book.
You’ll still have work to do. You still have to take a nice photo, read and review it. So it’s not like a free bonus. You will have time constraints, and if you want to review less than three stars? You need to contact the company, as you can’t be sharing that. But this is work that feels an awful lot like fun, and isn’t that what we want for our accounts?
As for readalongs, there is a company called Tandem Collective. They have both UK and Global accounts, and I love them. These guys work with publishers to set up a readalong. You sign up, and if you get on the readalong, they’ll send you a copy of the book with prompt cards. Sometimes you’ll get bonus goodies too. Even if you don’t get on the readalong, if you already have the book or want to grab a copy, you can be sent digital versions of the prompts so you can join in too. There are big group chats for the readalongs, there’s sometimes challenges too, and it’s a lot of fun. They’ve also recently started film watchalongs, and you can win chances to be a VIP for certain digital events.
Basically, Tandem are wonderful, and you should definitely check them out if you want some bookstagram treats.
That’s about all I have for today. If you want to follow me on Instagram you can find me at @lejazzhotbaby . I hope you’ll find some of these at least a little bit useful and reassauring.