A Picture is Worth 1,000 Customers: Using Instagram to Promote Your Book

instagram-logoWe are in a fast-paced, instant, give-it-to-me now world in which people live and die by their mobile devices. Therefore, if you want to capture the attention of prospective readers; you have to be where they hang out.

We’ve talked about using Twitter and Facebook, so today, let’s talk about Instagram.

Instagram is a mobile app that is set up and utilized only through your phone. You can learn about best practices on the computer, but the action takes place on your phone.

Here is how to set up your account:


  1. Download the Instagram app for iOS from the App Store, Android from Google Play Storeor Windows Phone from the Windows Phone Store.
  2. Once the app is installed, tap to open it.
  3. Tap Sign Up, then enter your email address and tap Nextor tap Log In with Facebook to sign up with your Facebook account.
  4. If you register with email, create a usernameand password, fill out your profile info and then tap Done. If you register with Facebook, you’ll be prompted to log into your Facebook account if you’re currently logged out.

Once you are set up – it is time to start snapping pictures and building your audience. At this time, only certain companies are able to purchase advertising, but you can begin to create a name for yourself visually without spending a dime.

Building Your Instagram Audience

Just like with every other social network, you need to begin to let people know you have an account.

  • Link to Instagram from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, your website and your blog.
  • Announce your Instagram with a newsletter to your email community.
  • Write a blog post about how you intend to use Instagram and then promote that article via your Facebook account.
  • Include the Instagram account in your email signature.

The next step is to follow others on Instagram. Connect Instagram with your Facebook account and begin by following all of the people you already know. Then the more you post, the more likely those people will be to follow you and share your images.

Rebecca Hiscott of Huffington Post offers 10 Simple Ways to Building Your Instagram Following. Here are just a couple ideas:


Really successful Instagram accounts tend to stick to a theme: a designer who posts behind-the-scenes peeks into the fashion industry; a food artist who does amazing things with rice and string beans; a world traveler with a flurry of snapshots from Paris, Portugal and Peru; a crafty celeb obsessive; and, of course, an abundance ofadorable puppies and kittens.


Hashtags are seen as the ultimate way to get more eyeballs on your post, but they don’t necessarily keep people coming back for more. Our Instagram experts tend to eschew common hashtags like #dog or #love, because, as Ketron pointed out, “If I’m going to post a photo of a bike, why would I hashtag it #bicycle? There are literally millions of photos with that hashtag.”

Instead, they tend to stick with a handful of unique hashtags that speak to the theme of the account or of a particular project.


Even if you’re not a slave to the almighty “like,” you should take care to acknowledge your audience in some way. “I’m intentional about responding [to commenters], even though I’m not able to respond to everybody,” Dasher said. “I want them to know that I appreciate them.”

You Scream, I Scream: How Ben and Jerry’s Promoted a New Flavor with Instagram

If you visit the Instagram computer website, you’ll find several case studies of businesses that are successfully using Instagram; of course they are also part of the elite that can purchase advertising.

However, I liked Ben and Jerry’s story of promoting a new flavor because it relates to promoting a new book.

Ben & Jerry’s was among the first brands to run advertising on Instagram. Over an eight-day period in November, the brand posted four sponsored images featuring its ice cream in a carton, in a cone and even as a vision in the clouds. Ads were targeted to users age 18-35 in the U.S. Instagram’s large audience ensured that the sponsored posts reached millions of people who visit the app regularly to be inspired by memorable imagery. By managing the frequency of the sponsored posts, Instagram ensured that users saw ads from Ben & Jerry’s only three times on average. Each creative was inserted in a user’s Instagram feed only once.

 How Can Instagram Help You Promote Your Book?

I like the idea that Ben and Jerry’s had of showing tasty images of their ice cream. Why not follow that example and show pictures of different people reading your book:dcb

  • Reading in a hammock
  • Reading upside down on a couch
  • Reading in a tree
  • Reading on the floor
  • Reading in a chair
  • Your pet reading your book
  • A teacher reading your book to a group of children
  • Quoting from your book at a podium

Then perhaps a series of pictures of snacks that go well with your book. This works great if you mention food in your story. Show images of your book going well with:

  • A coke
  • Pizza
  • Popcorn
  • Pan of lasagna
  • Cake – let them eat…
  • Wine
  • Chocolate milk and cookies

Next, start a contest asking followers to post their picture of them reading your book – offer up a prize $25 Amazon gift card, to the most shared image. Make sure you promote this contest on all other social networks.

How about casting the characters in your book for a movie? This could garner interest in those that haven’t read your book just by who you cast. Ask those that have read the book to offer their suggestions for who should be in the movie. Post their pictures.

If you have written a period piece, how about selfies of you in costume?

The ideas are only hampered by your own imagination and as a writer; we know your imagination is limitless.

Bottom Line: Instagram is a fast paced, visual platform with over 300 million users; 75 million active every day. Why not take to the phone and start promoting your book? For updated information on using Instagram for Business, check out their blog.