I've never really used my Instagram for anything other than making my photos look pretty.
I'm super active on there, sure. I take a lot of pictures. As of this post, I've got about 1,700 pictures on that thing. And I follow a few good friends on there, but I seldom comment on stuff. I never use hashtags on my photos, and when I see my photographer friends going crazy with them, I'll usually troll them by leaving comments like #hashtag" on their pictures. Sorry, Conrad.
I am an adult.
However, towards the end of the spring, I started to notice a shocking bump in my followers and people were starting to tag me in pictures. Suddenly I had 1,300 followers. Why? Were people really that into pictures of my overweight chinchilla or lazy rabbit? Pictures of squirrels eating Doritos? What was happening?
Well, all of this started around the time the Portuguese version of The Geek's Guide to Dating came out in Brazil. And when one reader tagged me in a photo with a series of hashtags, I did a little clicking.
And was pretty surprised.
Readers and bloggers in Brazil were using my name (#ericsmith), the title of the book (#geeklove), and the original title (#thegeeksguidetodating and #geeksguidetodating) while sharing the review copies they received. I spent a lot of time flicking through numerous photos and then, started commenting on them. Saying thanks, telling them how I couldn't wait to see blog posts, etc.
This blogger took a screen cap of me saying hi on her blog, and she also wrote one amazing entry featuring a playlist from inside the book, which I might have never caught otherwise.
A lot of these bloggers subsequently found me on Twitter, mentioned me while tweeting their reviews, emailed me for bookplates and/or posters, started following me on Goodreads, liked my Facebook page, etc. I responded to everything, loving every minute of it.
Was this... was I accidentally marketing on Instagram? Was this photo sharing toy suddenly something more?
The interesting thing here, is that thanks to Instagram, a social networking tool that's almost entirely visual, I was able to connect with readers (and still am connecting with them, I check the hashtags once a week) in a way that isn't effected by the language barrier. Not a lot of authors get to connect with their international readers, but with a tool like Instagram... I was suddenly able to.
So, here's to taking it a bit more seriously. And author friends, I really encourage you to hop on there, search for your books (in all editions, foreign or not) and your name. I think you'll end up being pleasantly surprised.
Just take a look. Here are a few authors I'm friends with / work with at Quirk, that are great examples, just off the top of my head:
Awesome, right? Get to searching.