Why are publishers using Instagram to promote their books and brands? According to Socialbakers, the top brands on Instagram have a 47x higher average post engagement rate than the top brands on Twitter. And then there’s the scale. As of September 2015, Instagram had 400 million monthly active users, more than Twitter’s 316 million. So while Instagram isn’t an ROI-driven marketing tool, it can have a big impact on book branding.
If you’re looking to use Instagram for book marketing but aren’t sure what kinds of pictures to post, take a look at what publishers are doing. We’ve compiled some great ideas for Instagram content thanks to the stunning photos they’ve been posting!
The publisher Instagrams we featured here each have their own content strategies, executed with unique goals in mind. While we don’t have metrics on how these campaigns affected book sales, we hope these examples can provide inspiration, whether you work at a big publishing house or you’re an independent author.
Also note that we’ve chosen to show book-promotion-style posts. But all of these publishers post a variety of photos on Instagram that provide insight into their brands. We encourage you to scroll through their feeds to see what other kinds of photos they post.
1. Post timely content around holidays or current events. (Penguin Random House)
Even if a book isn’t directly related to an upcoming holiday or event, use the setting around the book to tie into the event, using relevant event hashtags to surface the photo in Instagram members’ searches.
2. Run contests. Get creative with the prizes! (Simon & Schuster)
Books aren’t the only prize you can give away. In these examples from Simon & Schuster, in one contest they’re giving away a vacation and book bundle, and in the other they’re offering to donate a book every time fans use a hashtag.
3. Promote new or upcoming releases. (HarperCollins)
Instagram gives you the opportunity to build excitement around new and upcoming books, whether it’s a whole stack of them or a single release.
4. Showcase books in relevant, interesting settings. (Bloomsbury Publishing)
A common trend is to post photos of books on a table with an assortment of props. Instead, try placing the book in a scene relevant to a scene from the book!
5. Display teaser quotes in stunning visuals. (Harlequin Teen)
Display text for teasers in a unique way. Harlequin Teen got really creative with a hand-written quote next to the book.
6. Provide a peek behind the scenes. (Scholastic)
Fans often appreciate insights into your brand and work process, even if it means posting a picture of your messy workspace.
7. Display books beautifully. (Disney Publishing)
Instead of taking a straight-on shot of a book, use angles or interesting backdrops to make the book stand out in users’ feeds.
8. Make clever use of props, rather than having them just be part of the background. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
In these examples from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the props are relevant to the book and tie in to a giveaway they’re running. It’s a creative way to get fans to engage.
9. Source photos from fans. Give credit where it’s due! (Chronicle Books)
Create a hashtag for fans to submit photos for reposting on your Instagram. Not only will all of their followers see the photo, but you’ll get effortless content for your feed.
10. Feature a book’s swag in an artsy way. (Little, Brown and Company)
You can use swag for more than just giveaways — create art with them, too! Bonus points if the swag is relevant to the book, like these “Not Sorry” buttons for The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck or honey with custom labels for Honeydew.
11. Host book giveaways, and make it obvious in the image. (Crown Publishing)
Instagram is a fantastic place to host book giveaways. Make it obvious that the books in the image are up for grabs, like how Crown Publishing included the word “giveaway” in large red font.
12. Promote deals and temporary discounts. (Entangled Teen)
If you’re running a limited-time price promotion, make sure your Instagram followers know about it by creating an image advertising the discount.
13. Brand a book by getting the tone right. (Riverhead Books)
Instagram creates a great branding opportunity. Use relevant props and lighting to set the tone for a book.
14. Show animals reading and/or laying on books. (Viking Books)
Your target audience (ideally) loves books. And everyone loves animals. Books + animals = share-worthy content.
15. Repost fantastic photos and promotions. (Grand Central Publishing)
What other ideas do you have for promoting books in Instagram? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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