I recently posted (here) about important things for writers and authors to consider when using Instagram, a largely visual platform that relies on images (and hashtags) more than on words, to tell stories. I mentioned in that that I’d circle back and talk a little more about the “right” followers, follow loops, and pods.
Pods are groups of people, often friends and family but also people you gain through follow loops, who like everything you post, while rarely leaving any kind of comment. While the Instagram algorithm sees quick reactions as a sign your content is valuable, it also monitors WHO is reacting quickly. If the same ten people are Johnny on the spot every time you post something, that will eventually work against you.
Which is a vicious cycle, for sure. You only get reactions from new people if new people are allowed to see your posts but if you aren’t getting reactions from new people then the algorithm thinks you are boring and doesn’t show you to new people. Cue cartoon spinning eyes.
There is nothing wrong with getting support from friends and family. But as far as the algorithm is concerned too much support from the same people means you are only interesting to those people.
The way to avoid getting into a pod is to avoid follow loops.
I get it; the idea of thirty new followers overnight is sexy and alluring. But consider who is following you in these loops.
Other writers looking for followers
Writers outside your genre
Super cheerleaders who will inadvertently get you shadow-banned
You are not reaching potential new readers in an organic manner. You are reaching a whole bunch of people with the same goal as your own—to sell books. You may find one out of ten this way who are genuinely interested in what you are creating and want to buy (or, even better, help you with cross-marketing).
I am not saying don’t do them at all. But if you do, start by finding one within your genre. Find one for cozy mystery authors and readers. Find one for horror writers and readers. Find the ones looking for honest engagement as part of the loop requirements (asking an engaging question, follow everyone who gives an answer you like, that sort of thing). Avoid the ones open to anyone and everyone, because that’s who you’ll get. And from there, you find yourself in a pod.
As for getting the “right” kind of followers, it takes time. LOTS of time. And work. No one said this was going to be easy (except the people who have never tried to do it). Follow relevant hashtags to your genre. I follow #UrbanFantasy and #UrbanFantasyWriters. When tagged posts from new people show up on your feed, interact with them. Give them a like, leave a VALUABLE* comment. THEN go to their page and heart up a couple more posts (and I do mean a couple—don’t go overboard or it could backfire and hurt their visibility, inadvertently). After you’ve done that, follow them. They are more likely to do the same for you if you show them some love ahead of time.
The rest goes back to what I said in my other piece. Use hashtags but use the right hashtags and change it up a little every post. I use #DGabrielleJensen on SOME but not all of my posts. I don’t even use my own hashtag on every post. Don’t just copy and paste the same 20 hashtags into every post. It will come back to bite you.
Post relevant content and show off your writer skills with sharp, engaging captions. That is how you are going to grow your audience, ORGANICALLY.
* Valuable comments are comments with more words than emojis. If the original poster asks a question, answer it. If you enjoyed the book they are reviewing, tell them why you liked it. If they are promoting their own book, let them know if you plan to purchase it or already have (this last one is just as much for other people as it is for the writer—humans are pack animals; we like to know other people are interested in a thing before we try it out)
About the Creator
Author of the Fia Drake Soul Hunter trilogy
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I love coffee, conversation, cities, and cats, music, urban decay, macro photography, and humans.