Important Instagram Dos and Don’ts. Social Media Faux Pas!

A.S. ChungPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.


Little Boy in Library

Library by David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott

Much like all social media, there are some rules and etiquette one should follow to maintain a healthy Instagram account. Yes, yes, rules are meant to be broken but if you’re starting off and learning the ropes, it wouldn’t hurt to explore some of these dos and don’ts.


Same Username
If possible, try and have the same username across all your social media platforms. Improves your overall branding and makes it easier for people to find you.

Focus On Engagement
The most addictive thing about social media is watching your follower count tick over consistently. We get very caught up with how many people like your post and how many readers are following you.

The most important thing about social media is getting organic followers and learning how to retain them over time. I can run a competition where you have to follow me on Instagram but the drop off rate post the competition is high. They are not following me because they like my content. They are following me because they want a stab at the prize.

One way to help retain followers is engagement. You have to communicate and talk to your Instagrammers. Once off flybys don’t work either. It has to be consistent, regular and genuine.

Consistency And Regularity
It is important to post images frequently. This way you are always in contact with your followers and they are constantly reminded you’re still around. If you start to create a pattern for posting, your followers will get to know your routine and start to look forward to your next instalment. Don’t disappoint them!

It is also important to be consistent in your type of posts. Followers are habitual and they are following you for a reason. If you are always posting photos of books and libraries, don’t post images of your pet dog or your favourite cocktail bar. Consistency could also mean your colour palette and only using 2-3 filters. You could post entirely in black and white or always filtering with Nashville to give that blueish hue. Check out below who posts photos of travel in India with a very colourful palette. Instagrammers are fickle and you will lose their interest if you sway too far from your brand.

Find A Niche And Be An Expert
You need to give people a reason to follow you. Should your account be too broad, you are not giving Instagrammers a reason to follow you. As an example, your account is about food. It is too broad a topic however should you narrow it down to just donuts you become an authority on all things donuts! Check out @shortstopmelb below.

Shortstop Melbourne

Tell A Story
Your pictures must tell a story so followers can identify with you. If your account is about books and you took a photo of a vintage Enid Blyton hard cover book, tell your followers why that was important to you and the nostalgia attached with it. Don’t just post a picture with captions #enidblyton #book #nostalgia #childhood #kidlit #greatbook #literature #secondhandbook

Enid Blyton Hashtag

Be Creative And Find Your ‘Thing’
There are millions of photos on Instagram. How will yours differ to that of others whilst trying to sell your book? As a crazy idea, I thought of incorporating travel with my book. I would place my book in the oddest locations, not prominent, perhaps peeking out randomly and take photos everywhere I go. It was a quirky idea I am yet to execute!

Look at @muradosmann. He found such a creative way to express travel with his wife. He only has 243 posts but 2.9m followers!

Murad Osmann

Use Popular Filters
Some filters are more popular than others. Research trending aesthetics and give it a go. It is also important that you update your app regularly and take advantage of new inclusions.


Crappy, Awful Photos
Whatever you do, don’t post terrible photos. I realise I am stating the obvious but you would be surprised at some of the images that are on Instagram by the very people who are trying to make a living from it.

As a writer, photography and imagery may not come naturally to you but know that you don’t have to have the latest photographic technology to create an amazing picture. There are many Smartphone only Instagram accounts that show off their wares purely with a phone. They don’t even take pictures with an actual camera. Turn on your square mode on your smartphone so all your photos are already perfectly cropped.  You will eventually come to see what your style is and followers will eventuate naturally, particularly those who identify with your creativity. Practise makes perfect!

Soliciting Followers And Spamming
Don’t spam. Don’t post too many photos continuously and clog up the Instagrammers feed. They want a little dose of you, not every other photo every single day! This includes over re-gramming other people’s photos.

Don’t be overly aggressive and continuously ask for Instagrammers to follow you. It doesn’t work. There are over 300 million users out there, be original and they will come.

Too Many Hashtags
Whilst the usage of hashtags on Instagram is much more acceptable compared to other social media platforms, many users still over use it. Posting one image with 30 hashtags doesn’t make for a good story. The user is trying to cheat the system and hoping the image will appear on all major trending searches. I have seen many photos with hashtags that are not even relevant to their image just to appear on searches.

You would be better off using less hashtags but more specific and relevant keywords. It also makes searching easier as you’re not lost in over $12.8 million photos for #books.

Too Much Selling
As an up and coming self-published author, Instagram is about publicity so don’t use it to just sell your books. You have to be social. If all you are doing is taking photos of your book and doing the hard sell, no one would be interested and a sure fire way of losing any followers you may already have.

This is a great way to start your Instagram journey. As you become more proficient with the application, you will start to get a feel of what works and what doesn’t. Tomorrow, I will be exploring some ideas for content for self-published authors. Stay tuned!


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