ADVANCED AUTHOR INSTAGRAM MARKETING TECHNIQUES
Thank you for clicking through to the first of my advanced author Instagram marketing guides.
My name is James Alexander Fraser from Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland (yes, exact same name and place as Jamie from Outlander! 😜) and my entire career has been in internet marketing since the mid 2000s. I began in London based digital agencies working for several international brands, then started my own online marketing agency in 2009. Over the next couple of years I slowly started getting into the whole book marketing space and launched BookGrow in 2012 and Genre Pulse in January of 2014. Genre Pulse is probably the better known of my book marketing businesses, and it is just one of many Kindle book promo sites available today. I also run a number of others including Price Dropped Books, Free Book Feed and the Romance genre focused, Cupid’s Draw.
So, since 2012 I’ve basically been a full time online book marketer and I now run all my projects from my home in Rome, Italy. Business has been consistent ever since I got into the book space. Lots of new authors are constantly coming on the scene and with that increased competition it’s made it harder for authors to stand out from the crowd (which in turn has further driven sales for marketing services).
Rather than simply running my app and email driven promotional campaigns for clients until the end of time, I felt I was long overdue to get back into some coaching work and have decided to create this free guide as a way of giving value back to my author clients as well as to new authors who happen to stumble across it.
I’ve worked extensively with building Instagram accounts over the past years and I wanted to put together a guide that was specifically geared towards authors. My aim is to make this process as step-by-step and easy as possible for you to follow – even if you’re not so tech savvy.
I recommend you read over this whole post once, bookmark it, then designate an afternoon or two to go through every step while sitting at your laptop or desktop (the steps involved require these devices as opposed to mobile). Once you follow all the steps in this guide and set up your Instagram properly, you are certain to create a well oiled author brand building machine of an account which will have a rapidly growing and targeted follower base resulting in many more book sales across Amazon and other platforms.
The reason I’ve prioritised creating this guide for Instagram over the other social platforms is because Instagram followers are essentially the metric by which success is measured in the social media marketing space nowadays. Obviously, while your Facebook, Twitter and other social profiles need to be looked after, they now pale in comparison to the importance of getting one’s Instagram running properly. For example, Facebook marketing is super hard now; pages are almost impossible to get likes for without paying through the nose for ads. You typically have to pay again with boosted posts to reach the audience you already paid for (makes me really mad) and the book scout / deal related Facebook groups have become a nightmarishly overcrowded space where authors relentlessly shill their books with pretty poor results. I think the membership of the majority of these groups are mostly authors rather than readers anyway. I run a few of these groups with tens of thousands of members, and that’s the impression I get. Apart from anything, the social titan of Facebook just isn’t that cool and engaging as it used to be. Instagram on the other hand (also owned by Facebook, of course) is what everyone’s addicted to and a well planned profile is by far the superior way to build your author brand and drive laser targeted reader traffic to your mailing list or directly to your book sales pages.
Enough with the intro now, I won’t bore you with any further details about myself, my businesses or my general views on the social book marketing space. Let’s just get stuck into the meat of this guide and you’ll be dominating on Instagram in no time…
I wish you the best of luck with your Instagram author marketing efforts!
PART ONE – FOUNDATIONAL AUTOMATION
Whether you have a brand new or existing but stagnant author Instagram account, one of the hardest and most mind-numbingly boring things to do is manage the process of gaining new and relevant followers as well as frequently engaging with those followers and their content. This is why I feel it is the most important foundation to set up correctly before we move on to more fun and creative brand building and design led efforts.
To do what is required manually for account growth is insanely impractical and time consuming. That’s why any brand worth their salt will typically have a big and costly team of social media marketers running it all for them. But even these social media teams have some time saving and profit margin boosting methods up their sleeves and this is what I’m going to show you now: account automation tools.
I have worked with many such tools over the past years. The killer one that I used for a while is now no longer running, but it has a clone that’s pretty great called Jarvee. However, I would suggest you avoid Jarvee because it is a highly complex tool, very difficult to tune to the right settings and is really geared towards professional social media marketers who are managing tens or even hundreds of their own or other peoples’ Instagram accounts.
The tool I will be working with in this guide is one that I now use on dozens of my Instagram profiles. It is a web based application as opposed to a downloadable piece of software like Jarvee which you have to run off a VPS which is always connected to the internet (more technical complexity and cost which you really don’t need). This tool also has an amazing Artificial Intelligence system to organically grow your following and interact with your followers in a fully automated way.
First off, please click the blue button below to visit the site for my favourite tool and I’ll spend the rest of this section of the guide talking you through how to set up a free initial account and how to tweak all the settings. I’ll also show you an amazing strategy I developed to help you get a huge list of laser targeted readers who are interested in your specific genre and are the potential readers most likely to become your new followers on Instagram and buyers of your books!
Once you have clicked the button above, please then go ahead and click the green ‘Get Started For FREE’ button near the top right of the homepage.
You will then see a signup page which will allow you join via email or your Google account.
Now you’ll be met with a page that asks you to connect your Instagram account. Don’t worry about entering your Instagram login details here. They are completely encrypted and invisible to the app operators and they allow the tool to manage your account with complete safety and on autopilot.
You may see the below message on the site when you are trying to connect your account…
In which case, follow the instructions (as seen below) from within your Instagram app and once you’ve followed the steps (either verifying by email or phone) go back to the signup page and try reconnecting your Instagram account. These are just security measures which are in place on Instagram to prevent hackers accessing your account. The detection of a new IP address trying to log into your account counts as a red flag as Instagram’s security systems will be used to only seeing those IP addresses associated with your home, office or smartphone’s internet connection, for example.
Now that you have completed the connection of your Instagram account you will arrive at the dashboard listing of said account. Now click on the little gear icon next to ‘VIEW ACCOUNT’.
Here we can start customising the settings so that you can completely automate this element of our marketing efforts. Use the below settings for getting started with the ‘Activity Types’ then click ‘Save Settings’.
Now scroll down the page a little and look at the ‘Automation Settings’. This can be left the same as the configuration below. When you begin this process, you’ll want to leave the ‘Activity Speed’ as slow. This can be ramped up over the next few months as your account grows and begins to snowball into a massive torrent of new and targeted followers.
Next comes ‘Filters’. It’s recommended to leave the gender, age and post type as ‘Any’ unless you have a very gender specific genre that you’re targeting such as Women’s Fiction. The ‘Post Likes Range’ should be set at around 1,000 as the users who you’re going to be automatically interacting with will be less likely to follow you if they already have a massive following of their own. The same logic applies to ‘Post Comments Range’, ‘User Followers Range’ and ‘User Followings Range’ which should be set to 500, 30,000 and 5,000 respectively.
Now we get to the spicy and interesting question of ‘Username Targeting’. Here is where I’m going to show you this unique and supremely powerful method I came up with to boost your Instagram following with the most targeted readers you could possible hope for. For this we’re going to have to jump over to Amazon and visit your author profile. For demonstration purposes I’m going to use the example of a romance author as the majority of books I’ve personally created on Amazon are illustrated books aimed at readers under five years of age 😂 and romance is the most popular genre anyway.
Below I have chosen a client of mine from my Genre Pulse service – the popular romance author, Mia Ford (if you read this I hope you don’t mind, Mia. This is just to show the starting off point of this process).
What you need to do on your own author profile is navigate to below the ‘About You’ text on the left hand side where you will see the ‘Customers Also Bought Items By’ section. Then click on the ‘Read more’ link below the six round profile images and you will be able to see the full 12 profile images of authors who have the most crossover in sales to your own books. It’s worth mentioning now, that if you are a very recent author with KDP on Amazon and you haven’t sold many books yet, then you can always do as I have done for this example and just choose an author that is the most similar to your genre and style of writing.
Open up notepad or some other text editor on your computer and start copying and pasting those names down into a list. Then, once you’ve got them all down, click on the first of the names and click on the ‘Read more’ link below the six round profile images as you did before and repeat the copy and paste of these 12 names into your list. Once you’ve grabbed all of those, click back on your browser to go to your starting point and do the same for the second profile and so on until you’ve grabbed the 12 further ones from all of the original 12.
You should now have a list of ~156 names in your notepad software. You will have noticed that there is quite a bit of duplication in the names. There is clearly crossover between all the authors as they’ll all be quite closely connected in this Amazon recommendation network. To get rid of these duplicates with no effort, simply copy all the names together from your text editor then visit the website www.DeDupeList.com and paste them into the orange box and hit ‘Submit’. You’ll now have a nice clean list of individual target authors.
Now we copy that full list of de-duped names and paste them into a column titled ‘name’ in a spreadsheet of your choice (Excel, Numbers, Google Sheets, doesn’t matter which). Make a second column titled ‘username’ and a third called ‘followers’.
The next step is that you will open up the website gramuser.com in your browser and use their search function to track down each individual author’s Instagram profiles (nearly all of them will have one). If the name doesn’t jump out at you immediately as being the obvious candidate when you search (which it normally should, as you’ll often be presented with a bunch of profiles with the same name), simply try adding the author’s name with ‘author’, ‘books’, ‘writes’ or ‘writer’ at the end and the correct profile should become apparent.
Going back to your spreadsheet, paste the target Instagram username into the second column next to the name and the follower count into the third column. Repeat this process until you have filled all the rows with Instagram usernames and follower counts. If you can’t find an obvious Instagram profile for any given author, then just skip it and move on to the next one.
OK great, you should now have a nice full list of similar authors to you, their Instagram profiles and their follower counts. If you drag over the full column of followers then your spreadsheet software should give you the sum of all the numbers. Hopefully, this number will be in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. These followers are the ones we’re going to be targeting using the app we’d been setting up before.
Jumping back to the app settings, scroll down to the section called ‘Username Targeting’.
Click on the button ‘Add New Username’ and paste in the first of the Instagram usernames from your spreadsheet, then click ‘SEARCH USER’.
Once you’ve clicked on the profile name it will be added to your ‘Username Targeting’ tool. Repeat this process until you have added all the target author Instagram usernames from your spreadsheet.
You can ignore the remaining setup options of ‘Hashtag Targeting’ (the hashtags relevant to books are typically used by authors as opposed to the readers we’re trying to target) and ’Location Targeting’ isn’t relevant as it would narrow down your reach too much. Also ignore ‘Comments’ section for now as this is an automated commenting function which can look a bit spammy if you’re just starting out with automation.
This concludes the setup of the foundational automation stage for your author Instagram profile. Now that it’s established, the tool will work on autopilot and begin building up a super targeted following of readers. If for any reason you run out of target Instagram profiles to follow, you can always repeat the process we went over above within Amazon but go down to even deeper levels than the one tier approach we covered here. By going deeper you will uncover many more similar authors and their Instagram followers.
It’s also worth mentioning that once your trial period for the tool expires you will be required to create a subscription. You can pay weekly, monthly or annually. The annual option (which I personally run) works out as the cheapest, saving you 35% at just $29 per month. However, it is necessary to pay the annualised rate in one block payment which could be outside of your budget. In which case, the best option would be to pay monthly to spread out the cost at $39 per month. The weekly option ($15 per week) is kind of pointless in my view as it works out at $60 per month (more than double the annualised rate).
Whilst it’s true that I do get a kickback for referrals (as can you by recommending the tool to other author friends), it really is worth getting a subscription for this service as it takes all the leg work out of the hardest part of Instagram marketing. The app even measures how much time you’ve saved in manual account management work as well as how much money you’ve saved in ad spend to achieve the same results – which is insanely cool in my opinion. You will notice that as you start to build up a following, you quite quickly begin see a kind of “law of accelerating returns” in action – more followers beget more followers and your account starts to mushroom with targeted followers.