#MKTG – Part 5 – #Instagram

I will be first to admit I barely use Instagram. There are multiple reasons for that, but #1 being that it is all done from my phone and #2 being that you cannot attach a link to an image.

However, in the world of social media marketing, Instagram offers a huge platform, with an audience of more than 1.16 billion people.

As of July 2021, 31% of Instagram users were shown to be between 25 and 34 years old. The second-largest group, at 25.7 percent, was between the ages of 18 to 24. So, it definitely appeals to a younger audience and that is something to consider when marketing your books.

Because I promised to experiment with each platform, I ran an Instagram ad. It was very similar to running a Facebook ad, as far as the steps to set it up.

  1. Start with a Goal – What do you want to get out of your ad? Most likely, the answer is more sales, more Website visits or more followers.
  2. Identify your Audience – We’ve already explored the importance of this step in the Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads posts. Who is most likely to buy your book? Who is most likely to follow you? These are questions you have to ask yourself and answer honestly. The right answer cannot be “everyone.”
  3. Refine your content and Message – What do you want to say? The content of your message is equally as important as any other step in setting up an Instagram Ad. The rule of thumb, is that your message needs to make a person ‘feel’ something. And don’t forget an image is a must. Without an image, you have no Instagram post.
  4. Develop a Hashtag – This is different from other ads in that you do need to create your own hashtag. It can be hashtag your author name, your book title, or a book series. However, keep it short and sweet. No more than three words strung together. For example, #AuthorJanSikes, or #GhostlyInterference or #StoryEmpire. You get the idea.
  5. Select a Placement – Once you have your message crafted with the image and hashtags, choose where to place your ad. There are fifteen options available to you in Instagram. But you need to uncheck ALL of them except Instagram Feed.
  6. Decide on a Budget – For my ad, I chose a budget of $20. That was what I could afford. Of course, your budget is totally up to you.
  7. How many days do you want to run the ad? – That is also up to you.
  8. Pick a format – Do you want to choose a single image, video, carousel, or Instagram stories?
  9. Add your website URL – This is imperative to an Instagram ad. It can either be your Website URL, your Amazon Author Page or a book link (which can be a universal link).
  10. Create a Headline – Make it something eye-catching!
  11. Pick a Call to Action – Purchase, Follow or whatever it is you are wanting the viewer to do.
  12. Link to your Website – This is an extra step in creating an Instagram Ad, but one you don’t want to skip.
  13. Do a Final Review – Make sure everything looks the way you want it before you hit publish!

And because I promised to experiment with these different advertising avenues, I posted a photo to Instagram of my book, Ghostly Interference, along with the bronze medal award it received from the Readers Favorite 2021 Book Awards Contest.

The results were not earth-shattering. For the $20 I spent, you can see for yourself, the ROI was very minimal. I’d be surprised if one sale came from the ad.

However, I do not want to discount the power of this social media platform. I think I simply haven’t taken the time and effort required to develop a presence. I’d love to hear from you. Have any of you had success using Instagram? If so, tell us what works for you!

Also if you’ve missed other posts in this Book Marketing Series, you can find them below.

#MKTG Part 1

#MKTG Part 2

#MKTG Part 3

#MKTG Part 4

75 thoughts on “#MKTG – Part 5 – #Instagram

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  14. I’m glad you’re doing this, and I contemplated doing a tutorial although the ones that need it, don’t read it. So I’m preaching to the choir, and I have to have information or insight they do not have. That I think comes from keywords/interests because this is the key advantage I have. One example is for the automotive industry, if I’m targeting Porsche enthusiasts, I don’t just go by that model 911, but I go by chassis codes such as 991, 993, 996, etc. this is a key differentiator.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: #MKTG – Part 5 – #Instagram – Exploring Grand Forks today

  16. I see from the comments that lots of people have left FB. I like FB for the author socialising in groups and for staying in contact with friends and family. I also have IG but I mainly use it to share pictures of my life and loves, gardening, baking, and travelling. I only post the odd book picture. I know they have adds but I’ve never tried them. I find the IG adverts very irritating.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: #MKTG – Part 5 – #Instagram – NEWS

  18. My biggest frustration with IG is that you can’t post workable links except in your bio. Plus, how many times can you post a picture of your book(s) before it gets annoying. Lol! Still, I had not idea they had IG ads. Thanks for sharing that today, Jan. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Yvette. That is my biggest critique of this social media platform. How many people will bother to click over to your profile to find a link to buy a book? Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m registered on Instagram but rarely go there, although my kids use it a lot. I’m just not photo-oriented.
    In my youth, I’d take a reel of holiday snaps to be developed at the chemist and pay out for fuzzy prints or photos of my thumb!
    When I discovered the digital camera, I loved it, but never remembered to take it with me. Now, by the time I’ve opened the camera app on my phone, the photo opportunity has passed. It’s too late for me.
    The only downside I find to the ubiquity of cameras is that my grandchildren pose with an unreal smile whenever one points their way – something my own kids never did, even though they had plenty of posing time by the time I snapped.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Cathy. It made me smile. This is definitely the world of the youth. The struggle with technology is real for us who did not grow up with it. The fuzzy pictures with the thumb in them brought back memories. And you even had to take the film to be developed only to find disappointing photos. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you, Jan, for sharing tips about Instagram. I realize it is a platform to reach younger people, but for some reason, I struggle with it. I noticed that I had several people like the photographs of roses from my garden that I just posted. I need to pay more attention to this social media and may try one of their ads based on your tips.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. So weird that you chose Instagram for today, Jan. Just last night I discovered the power of REELS. I posted my first REEL of the Notorious P.I.G. (guinea pig) set to I’m Too Sexy song. And within the first 15 minutes that REEL had over 5K views! Amazing, right? I had no idea they were so popular. For my next REEL, I’ll do the same (funny guinea pig moves set to music), only this time have them strut past my books. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  22. That 1.16 billion Instagram is enticing, Jan, but I think you’re right that the platform requires making connections and building a following… like any social media platform. And that means time that we often don’t have. After your articles about FB and Twitter, I’m considering putting more energy into those, if only 15 minutes a day. That’s plenty! Lol. And thanks for giving the “ads” a try too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Michele. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. The biggest problem I have with IG is that you cannot share links. So while you can share your blog there, if someone wants to visit, they have to go search for it. Thank you so much for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Great post, Jan! I love using Instagram because I like taking pictures and sharing them 🙂 I do throw in some book stuff too. I never though to advertise there, that was an interesting experiment. For me this is a fun spot and I enjoy other pictures and quotes. Maybe I should consider more in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Hi,
    I am on Instagram, but I admit that I don’t use it. I think I check it about once every five months. So there is a big need for improvement in that department. But to be honest, I am just getting deep into marketing my own books, and I am not sure if I want to use Instagram. It might not be a platform for me. After spending some days of getting through a jungle and finally getting my newsletter up and my MailChimp account set up, I think I will wade the marketing waters slowly but deeply by concentrating on two markets that are best for me.
    Thank you very much for this series on marketing. It has given me things to think about.
    By the way, when is the second book to your series coming out? I want to make sure I don’t miss it.
    Take care.
    Shalom aleichem

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Pat! Thank you for your comment. Wading the waters of marketing is aptly put. 🙂 It’s not easy. Congrats on getting your newsletter set up. Do you have a place where I can sign up to receive it? The whole key to using social media to promote your work is to choose the platform that works for you and be consistent with it. Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment! Jagged Feathers will be released on January 31, 2022!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jan,
        That is great news. If you do a virtual book tour count me in. I would love to feature it on my author website.

        I have a newsletter pop-up on my author Website, patgarciaauthor.com. It doesn’t pop up immediately , approximately 20 seconds after you been on the website.
        All the best and once again I did enjoy this series. I think I missed one while I had my head buried in setting up my newsletter. I will check and see later.
        Shalom aleichem


    • Actually, John, you should use the social media platform that you feel the most comfortable with and can maintain some consistency with. For me, Instagram isn’t it. 🙂 Thanks for your comment!


  25. Jan, I applaud you for testing out the waters with IG ads. I do have an Instragram account but haven’t used it in ages. I’d really like to start again. I don’t know that I’d ever run an ad there because of the age groups, but I do like the writing community on IG. Sharing there is kind of a fun thing to do. I just have to work it back into my day, and your post is inspiring me to make that happen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • All of it takes time, Mae. And I am pretty set in the platforms I use consistently. Instagram isn’t one of them. 🙂 I love to scroll through, but I can’t say that I ever bought something because I saw it on Instagram. Thank you for leaving a comment today!


  26. I always forget I have an IG account. I was using it for a while, then my daughter took it over for me so I didn’t have to use it, then she stopped and I didn’t take it back up. But there are apps you can install on your laptop so you can use it from there, which makes it much easier to design ads and share your work. I did a post about it years ago. I think I used the Flume app then, which was only for Mac, but I believe there have been others released since.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. I’ve never used Instagram. It seems I can create a personal account without the dreaded Facebook. But a business account needs FB, which I’ll never do. For the Insta ads, do we need a business account?
    Great post, Jan, with easy to follow instructions. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  28. I marvel at your marketing skill, Jan, and this post. There was a time that I was active on Instagram, but I did not use it for marketing. It was fun just traveling through the photos. You’ve sparked my interest again and I might revisit, as I’ve left Facebook behind. Thank you for sharing your advertising adventure – always fascinating.

    Liked by 3 people

  29. I love Instagram because of the photos but like other social media platforms, I haven’t used it for an ad. There’s a large writing community there and I follow several authors. This year, my presence there hasn’t been as often, but I’d like to use it more in the future.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Consistency seems to be the key with any of these platforms, Joan. And that’s one of the reasons I think my ad didn’t perform better. I am hit and miss with IG but as you say, I enjoy scrolling through and looking at what others are doing. Thanks for leaving a comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  30. I love Instagram and I’ve had success with their ads…more so than Facebook. I’ve met some great people who are eager to help with promotions. Over the past year, my dislike of Facebook has grown and I’d love to ditch it, but then I couldn’t have an IG account. Thanks, Jan!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Jill, I got rid of Facebook (including my author page) several years ago, and I have an IG account. Maybe it’s the difference between business and social. I don’t know if my IG gives me the same capabilities that yours does. Maybe Jan knows.

      Liked by 3 people

    • You make a good point, Jill, and I am so glad to hear that you had success with IG promotions. I do think consistency on whatever platform you choose to use is important. And, I also think that is why my ad didn’t perform better. It all takes time and effort. We have to pick no more than three platforms and work them consistently. I will look for you on IG!

      Liked by 1 person

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