Monthly Archives: April 2015

10 Tips to Grow Your Audience on Instagram

The saying goes that a picture speaks a thousand words. This statement couldn’t be truer than on Instagram, a social media platform where your photos do the talking. If you’ve got 140 characters or less to find your following on Twitter, then on Instagram, you achieve success through compelling snapshots and short quips about them.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to establish yourself on Instagram. But you do need to know a few things to set the stage before getting started.

Establish your online persona
The person who taught me how to get started on social media introduced the concept of developing an online persona, and this principle applies to all social media handles from the get-go. Know what message you’d like to get across and establish your goals and primary focus. It helps to ask yourself why you’re on social media and what you hope to achieve. Once you are clear, the answer will reflect in the types of photos that you share on Instagram—whether you’re working it purely for business purposes or posting occasional personal snapshots to give your brand a relatable image. Your audience recognizes authenticity and will respond to you, so be as true to being yourself as you’re comfortable with sharing. It will make a difference.

Write a strong bio
Remember to write a clear and concise profile. It’s your first introduction of you or your brand to your audience. I always believe in being natural and real with people. If you’re funny, definitely incorporate humor in your bio. If you’re using Instagram to promote a business, then include information about the business and a link to the site. Your profile photo can be you, your brand logo, or a pretty picture of items you sell.

Choose a theme
Decide on a look or theme to carry through your photos. While this isn’t absolutely necessary, if you’re doing work in beauty or design and you have a signature style, then IG is a great place to showcase that look and attract people who love your style too. Check out @aquietstyle, @misspoppydesign and @TLVBirdie who do an awesome job presenting their branding in a clear and consistent way.

Then there are others who focus exclusively on food (feast your eyes on @julieskitchen), yoga (check out @yoga_girl who currently released a book thanks to her Instagram popularity), flowers (dream of greener pastures on @saipua), vintage fare (@folkmagazine and its shop @buyfolk), slow living (arrest your fast pace here: @local_milk) and more.

Use the search option to build connections
Pressing the search button used to take you to the Instagram photos with the most hits. Recently, the IG team tweaked the search engine, so that you can now use it to discover accounts that share similar interests. You can then:

  • Like their posts.
  • Leave comments. It’s debatable whether or not it’s a good idea to ask people to check out your feed. I’m of the opinion to always play it cool and let them come to you, unless you develop a connection. What I find is that leaving positive feedback on someone else’s feed often earns reciprocal positive attention back.

Take a good photo.
This seems pretty obvious, yet there are still some bad photos on IG. Instagram offers a point and shoot camera, as well as tools and filters to create the exact image you want. With the latest iPhones and Android phones, I find these to be enough without resorting to a fancy camera or expensive photo editing programs.

Here are some basics rules to follow:

  • Make sure the photo is focused. I can’t tell you how many pictures I’ve seen that are blurry. This is IG where all you’ve got is your photo. Make it work FOR you. A photo that is unfocused carries an underlying message of a lack of professionalism.
  • Unless your style is “less is more,” it seems that the more brands and different types of items generate more likes. For instance, as with @TLVBirdie, her fashion and beauty flat-lays get more attention than her other shots. Similarly, the more products I include in my posts, the more “likes” they get too.
  • If you’re going to post generic photos taken from Pinterest or “regram” someone else’s photo, always credit the original and don’t do it often. Too many “inspirational” posts tend to get stale on Instagram and are more suitable for Pinterest.
  • Pay attention to which photos generate more of a stir than others and do more of that.
  • Develop your style. Lauren Conrad is a great example of consistent use of filters @laurenconrad. You can check out her pro-tips here, if you like her images.

Clever caption
Short and clever captions seem to do best, since IG is mainly a quick scroll-through visual platform.  But feel free to ask questions to get other Instagrammers to engage with you.

Rock the Hashtags
Hashtags belong at the END of a comment on your photo and help others find you. If you don’t want to clutter up a clever slogan, you can always add the hashtags in the first comment to the post. Whatever you do, don’t #talk with #hashtags mid-sentence. I don’t like it on Twitter and it doesn’t belong on Instagram either.

But definitely use them. They will enable search engine compatibility and will help you find accounts who are using the terms.

Yes to the #selfie
People seem to like these photos aimed at capturing you. Check out @beautybybritanie who nearly doubled her following in a year with more than the occasional selfie. But make sure it’s working for you. One friend told me that she did an insta-video (limited to about 10-15 seconds long) with her singing and actually lost follows, so pay attention to what your audience likes and dislikes.

Tag brands or people in the photo
Before posting, you can tag the brands or people who are in your photo. In turn, the tagged accounts get a message signal (the symbol on the right under your profile lights up and when clicked, they will see your pic). If they like the photo enough, they may repost it to their account and you can cross-promote each other which is always win-win.

Don’t post too frequently
The rules of engagement are different on Instagram than on Twitter or Facebook where frequency of tweets and posts garner increased visibility. On Instagram, it’s the opposite! Too many consecutive photos will actually lose “likes” on each photo. What works? I find that one post between 9 am to 11 am, one around noon, and one in the evening after 8 pm should do it. Sometimes I wait until the first post of the day stops getting attention before posting the next photo.

Instagram can open an entirely new avenue of free exposure to your brand and business. It is well worth exploring the possibilities. Go ahead. Take a shot!

Sarita Coren is a freelance writer and blogger at Peace on the Skin & Peace Within, www.ediblefacial.com. She is committed to spreading the world about green beauty, holistic wellness, and living from the heart. She can be contacted at ediblefacial@gmail.com.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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By |April 28th, 2015|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Readers Are Not Consumers!

Spring has finally come to the Front Range of Colorado, where we are enjoying the warm days (along with the occasional snow shower!)

Here in Boulder, we like to think of ourselves as positioned not just geographically, but also culturally, between the traditional publishing world of the East Coast and the tech world of the West Coast.

“Big Data” is not a dirty word for us, but it is not an end in itself. Quant culture can be put in the service of the Human Creative.

A few weeks ago, I talked about the first of two principles that drive our vision:

  • Audience Discovery is a critical complement to Content Discovery.

Today, I’d like to talk about the second principle (a family of principles!):

  • An Audience is a special kind of market, a reader is a special type of consumer, a writer is not a merchandiser, and writing is not a commodity (or mere “content”).

One of the fascinating dimensions of the conflict between Hachette and Amazon last year (a conflict that played out again with Harper-Collins last month) is the clash of two visions of the cultural economy. On one side stand the technocrats of Amazon, ruthlessly rationalizing supply chains and profit margins in order to increase shareholder value; on the other stand the old-school book publishers, bravely championing a commercial structure that adequately compensates the Curatorial/Editorial Guild for their essential value.

Of course, both positions were immediately deconstructed by pointed counterarguments: 1) Amazon has served a great many authors — self-published and traditionally published, e-books and print — with their ubiquitous commerce and distribution infrastructure; and 2) Hachette is owned by a multinational conglomerate as committed to the bottom line as anyone else, and is run accordingly.

Who’s in the right? Well, both and neither, of course. To the extent that both institutions serve readers and writers, they are good. To the extent they serve a corporate bottom line divorced from social value, they are off base. That’s our view, at least.

The internal dynamics of commodity capitalism tend to diminish the unquantifiable allure of a creative work. In his classic essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” the German cultural critic Walter Benjamin famously declared that mechanical reproduction destroys a work’s “aura.”

Indeed, the allure of aura is different from demand for a product.

Commodity capitalism does not know what to do with “aura.” What it does know is “branding” — a rich process of creative self-definition — and its moronic stepchildren: “hype” and “buzz.”

When we think of books as “commodities” and readers as “consumers,” we subject ourselves, indeed our entire society, to a world devoid of aura. If we follow the tried-and-true logics of consumer capitalism, where supply and demand, labor costs, profit margins, and supply chain dynamics are the governing parameters, we lose the very thing that makes literature and art valuable: the expression of an individual vision, voice, heart and mind as they percolate within a collective consciousness.

Authors are on board with this. They know aura. They are looking for readers, not “consumers.” They are looking for an Audience to engage with, not a “demographic” to sell merchandise to. Merchandise is entirely subject to the dynamics of supply chains and distribution channels. Creative works are not (ideally).

Cultural currency in an attention marketplace is not the same as dollars in the bazaar. 

Of course, all writers want lots of readers. But they don’t want to find them using the de-personalized techniques of modern commodity marketing, putting up billboards on the attention superhighways, or bullhorning slogans across the town square. They want to gain fans through engagement, listening, entertainment, and the sharing of interests and affinities.

Much of the advice being given to authors these days is spot-on. I’m thinking of Guy Kawasaki’s thoughts on Authorpreneurship, and everybody-and-their-sister’s advice on “building an Author Platform.” That’s what authors need to do nowadays, and that’s a good thing. It keeps writers engaged with their audience and with their own voice.

The missing piece to the empowerment of Authors is to put them directly in touch with their potential audience, and not trust to the “shelf space” dynamics of merchandisers (and search engines) to be “discovered.”

By now, if you are still reading, you may be wondering what I’ve been smoking (I do live in Colorado after all), or whether I am serious. Are these principles too out of touch with reality to apply to the daily lives and challenges of writers in America today?

I think not. Old structures are breaking down, and Creatives are taking it into their own hands to work out how to reach the most people who might have an affinity to their work. To a certain extent, audience-building is always, at least partially, a numbers game. And it always involves some level of inspired, efficient promotion. That’s where the Quant techniques can help. Any author who truly wants to appeal to a readership of any size, must put the numbers to work for them, and commit to reader engagement and promotion.

At Find My Audience, we want to help writers do just that.

–Paul Agostinelli

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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Getting The Most Out Of Google+

Since its beginning, Google+ has been a phenomenal writing community and resource. As a writer, you can find plenty of support, information, and feedback from people every step of the way throughout your writing process. Plus, there is an underutilized promotional tip that can bring attention to your book events. Some of the tips listed below will help you make the most out of your Google+ experience.

To forewarn those of you who aren’t familiar with Google+, this post is designed for those who have some experience with the social media site, but feel as if you just don’t “get it” or you haven’t unlocked all of its features yet. So, let’s get started!

1) Don’t forget to follow and engage.

 google_one

Much like Twitter, it’s easier than you might think to find other writers on Google+. Simply search for terms such such as “writing,” “writer,” or “author” and you will uncover a slew of fellow writers and authors on the social network.

Circling people is meaningless, though, if you don’t spend a little time engaging with their content by sharing, “plusing,” or commenting. With Google+, comments and interaction are much more meaningful than on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, where it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle.

2) Utilize Communities

 google_two

The communities feature of Google+ is a wonderful resource for writers. Communities such as Blogger Coffee Shop and Speculative Fiction Writers allow one to ask questions about the writing process and gain support. I have also seen people ask questions about self-publishing, book covers, and everything else in between. Google+ Communities are the new hub of writing communities. You can find any group of writers you need for your niche.

3) Create events for book promotional dates, tours, etc.

google_three 

I utilized events recently when I launched a Twitter Party event for an author with a new book coming out. It was the first time I had used this feature, and I was nervous about sending this event request to so many people I followed. The results? All positive. I received a lot of supportive remarks and a lot of people RSVP’d.

If you haven’t used this feature before, I highly recommend it. It is very useful for book launch events or tours. Use it wisely, though, as it gets sent out to everyone you’ve selected to send it out to (I sent it to over 5,000 people I followed) and you don’t want to be flagged as nuisance. So, make sure you are sending this to other writers and bookworms who will appreciate this event.

4) Create smaller circles of more engaged people to be able to send out niche specific posts.

google_four 

One of the beneficial, but more “housework-related” features of Google+ is the ability to create smaller circles of people with whom you share your posts. I’ve clumped people into one or two categories of “following” or “writing” people. However, if you have a variety of people you share content with, some posts may cater to a specific crowd. With Google+, it’s very easy to build a circle of people who only receive certain kinds of posts.

5) Complete your profile and be active.

One deterrent to circling someone back is an incomplete profile. If someone doesn’t have a photo and they have shared nothing about themselves and have never shared anything on Google+, more than likely I will not follow them back.

Make an effort to have a photo of yourself on your profile and share a little bit about yourself. Better yet, make sure in your tag line you describe yourself as a writer. Many people search for people to follow based on various search terms that interest them, so if you want to gain the attention of other writers on Google+, use words like author or writer in your profile.

6) Don’t be overwhelmed by number of followers.

Last, but not least, what I’ve noticed about Google+ is just because you have a high number of people who have circled you back, doesn’t mean that you have a lot of engaged people reading your content. Indeed, if you have a core group of people who are engaged and share your content, then you are way ahead of the game. Don’t get bogged down by the goal of having more than 1,000 people who have circled you back. If you have 100 who have circled a comment, or given a plus one, or share your posts and interact with you, then you don’t have anything to worry about.

What I like best about Google+ is that it does engage writers. You can use more words in your posts and you can seek refuge in the community area to gain support. Whether you have just signed up or you have been with Google+ for a long period, it’s always possible to enhance your experience and make it the best social network you use. There’s a whole world of writers on GooglePlus. So don’t miss out.

About the Author
Nicole Pyles is a writer and blogger living in the Pacific Northwest. In her free time, she loves to read and write about things that go bump in the night. She enjoys helping authors unlock their potential with social media and recently started hosting Twitter parties for the book promotional service Pump Up Your Book. Read her blog at World of My Imagination and follow her on Twitter and, of course, GooglePlus.

At Find My Audience, we understand that not all authors are marketers. That being said, growing your social audience can expand your readership and book sales. You don’t have to be a book marketer to find new readers online. We are here to simplify this process for you. Sign up today and connect with potential readers across the globe.

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