Did you know? The photo/status update/messaging/story app has over 800 million users as of September. Purchased by Facebook in 2012, it’s often the millenial social media site of choice, with most users between 18-29 years old.
Maybe you’re not on Instagram (yet), but have seen posts shared in traditional media from top users like Selena Gomez, National Geographic or even Beyonce. And concluded that Instagram is not the place for you.
What you might not know is that while it’s easy to get lost in those 800 million users, it’s easier than you might think to join Instagram (or up your Insta game) and reach exactly the Catholic audience you’d like to.
The Catholic community is thriving on Instagram. Catholic news and other organizations (including the USCCB), dioceses and archcdioceses, parishes, priests, religious, youth groups, high schools and colleges, people-in-the-pews and more are avid users.
We’ve rounded up a set of links to get you started. But before we get to those, here are the OSV Top 5 Tips for getting started on Instagram:
1. Use the name you write under to sign up. Be clear in the short bio that you’re a Catholic author, and include a link to your web site (or other site) visitors can go to see/buy your book(s).
2. Search for authors you admire/authors writing books similar to yours. You might be surprised who you find! Follow these authors (hopefully they’ll follow back!) and take a look at the people who follow them. It’s easy at this point to follow their followers (sounds redundant, doesn’t it? But it works a lot like Facebook friending).
3. Scroll through other authors’ posts to see the type of photos and status updates they share. But don’t let this limit you! Instagram is your chance to engage your audience (and prospective audience) in your work, your writing life, your travels, your faith!
4. It’s an old social media joke that “nobody wants to know what I’m eating for lunch.” And it’s often true — unless you’re visiting the Vatican and are eating lunch in Rome. Or perhaps you’ve visited a local shrine. Or your home church is beautifully decorated for Christmas. Maybe you’ve visited an interesting church library for research, or interviewed a faith-filled Catholic. Selfies may seem overdone — but introducing yourself to your audience with a selfie — or a photo snapped by someone else — puts a human face on your work and makes a connection. Take a picture of your messy desk, or your stack of research books, or the latest book you’re reading. To accompany the photo, you don’t have to write (another) book — just a few words about what you’re doing. And don’t feel like you have to share intimate details of your life, or every little move you make. You don’t! You’re simply trying to give folks a little peek into your writing life. And when your book finally comes out — let your followers know! It’s a great place to let them know about any interviews, blog posts, accolades or other news about your book
A note about posting: If you want to post everyday, that’s great. Three or four times is week is what to shoot for, but try for at least once a week. Otherwise, it looks as if your account is inactive.
5. Be responsive! If someone comments back on a picture, respond with a friendly “Thank you!” or if a question is asked, answer back. You can set your notifications to alert you whenever there’s action on your account, but if you find that too instrusive, just check once a day or so. And FYI, while you can look at Instagram and like posts, you can’t post from a computer — only a smartphone or tablet.
Okay! Here are some links to help you get started:
- How to use Instagram as an author plus 10 ways to grow your account organically by Joanna Penn.
- Top 7 ways authors are using Instagram by Joel Friedlander
- 20 professional writers to follow on Instagram by Alice M. Underwood
- 10 Catholics to follow on Instagram by Jennifer Sawyer
- Catholics on Instagram you should follow by project YM
- 5 Catholic Instagram accounts that show beauty really will save the world by Aleteia