Ciao, SEers. Happy Monday!
Over the course of our time together, you’ve probably come to realize I consider social media a somewhat necessary evil. I know writers are supposed to use it, but so few of us use it consistently and creatively enough. I often feel it’s a waste of time, but if I don’t do it, I feel guilty. And when Google announced G+ was going away, I was relieved. It was one less platform for me to neglect.
Kids today are much savvier when it comes to social media. My son couldn’t care less, but my daughter loves it. She’s even an ambassador for some company on her Instagram account because they love the look of her posts and the way she uses the app. In short, she’s awesome at it. And I’m not. Hence the following conversation between the two of us:
Her: Mom. Seriously. Your Instagram page is an embarrassment.
Me: Oh. I kind of forgot I had one.
Her: Obviously. You haven’t posted in forever.
Me: I should probably just delete it.
Her: No. You should probably use it. Properly. There are a ton of readers over there. They’d love your books if they knew about them. Instead, you’re posting pictures of our dogs.
Me: People like dogs. And our dogs are the cutest.
Her: (rolling eyes) Our dogs are adorable, but do they help you sell books?
Me: Well, no. But I’m sure there are readers out there who like dogs.
Her: (an indescribably disgusted look on her face) Mom. Give me your password. I’ll fix your account, then you can take over. And if I make a difference, I want to use you as a reference on LinkedIn. I’m going to call the position Social Media Coordinator.
Me: You can call it Instagram Overlord, for all I care. Do what you want.
After that happy little exchange, I forgot about it. For a day. Less than, actually. Then she came to me wearing a proud (and slightly smug) expression and shoved her phone in my face. The dog pics were gone. 😦 But I had more likes on one photo than I ever had before on all my posts combined, and my followers were growing right in front of my eyes. I think I got three new ones as she stood there. Granted, I still don’t have that many. But I have a lot more than the eight or so I started with before she updated my profile.
It goes without saying, she’s using this on LinkedIn. Potential employers can think what they want about her working for her mother. Maybe one of them will look for my books.
But I digress.
Kids today love Instagram because they can do it from their phones. My eyesight is terrible and I have fat thumbs, so I hate working on my phone. More to the point, my book covers and marketing materials aren’t on my phone. They’re on my laptop. And Instagram is a phone app that doesn’t work well with laptops.
That’s when I remembered why I neglected Instagram. Well, one of the reasons.
I used to have a program that was supposed to let me post from my laptop to Instagram. It was never user-friendly, and then they updated the software and it no longer worked with a business account (which I have). So I went online to find a better alternative.
Yep. It took me roughly 500 words to get to the point. (Sorry about that.) I downloaded Flume.
Flume is an app for Mac. (If you have a PC, check out this link. While I can’t recommend any of these because I don’t use them, you may see something that interests you.) Flume has a free version, but I went straight for the Pro Plan, which allows me more customization. Unlike the greedy people at Microsoft, Adobe, and Nuance, this isn’t a subscription; it’s a one-time fee. And I’m all about the one-time fee rather than the subscription-based options.
Flume is super-simple to use.
- Upload the file you want.
- Write your caption in the space provided. This is where you should also put any web links and hashtags.
- Use the tools in the bottom right of your uploaded photo to make any customizations. (And there are plenty.)
- The first one (the white square in front of the other square) allows you to toggle between a single post or a carousel. (I’m not fancy; I stick with the single post.)
- The second one (the paintbrush) is your editing tool. It allows you to apply filters, set brightness, straighten crooked pics, create vignettes, sharpen, scale… you get the idea. It’s quite robust, actually.
- The third tool looks like a person. It allows you to tag users.
- The fourth, the crop tool, does exactly what it says. (It’s also where I set my background color because my pics aren’t square.)
- The fifth tool (the square with the “up” arrow) shows you linked accounts that you can share to. For example, I could select Twitter, and it would post there, too.
- The sixth and final tool, the gear, is advanced settings. I must not be very advanced, because I only have one option: to turn commenting on and off. I leave it on.
And that’s it. Then you’re ready to post.
It’s probably worth noting that Instagram isn’t like Twitter or any of the other platforms. People don’t want to be bombarded with posts. One a day is plenty. I do three a week (when I remember). I actually missed all of last week. (Sssh… don’t tell my daughter.)
It’s also important to note that you can (and should) use a ton of hashtags. I need to be better about that. I use somewhere between three and five, but you can use a lot more without breaching protocol. And more hashtags means more potential readers will see the posts.
I can’t guarantee this will increase your sales. Heck, I can’t even guarantee I’ll keep trying to use Instagram. But if I stay with it, I’ll be using Flume.
What about you guys? Do you use Instagram? Do you have any tips and tricks to share? Let’s talk about it.