#1 Me Before You; Personalisation is key
Critics often pride themselves on being unbiased consumers. A good review is meant to observe a piece of work for what it is and remove yourself from the picture. However, of the reviews I read over the past week, I found that the #writersofinstagram do the exact opposite. Literary Instagram is first and foremost a community of passionate individuals, not professionals. You will find several writers talking about how they got a particular book, who gave it to them, where they read it, and other tiny details that add a personalised voice to their review. Right off the bat, literary Instagram is breaking the norms of traditional literary culture.
#2 How to Win Friends and Influence People; Connect with your followers
Instagram stories promote interaction, and hence I saw several creators from the #writersofinstagram often use it as a one-on-one means to ask their followers for book suggestions or recommendations. Some creators take it a step further and use creative methods like games or polls to get their followers involved. However, a common factor amongst all creators is using books as a central theme to foster interaction. Unlike other influencers who have to constantly find interesting and relatable things about their life to showcase, literary Instagram is bound by their common love for books. Hence, it is only logical to use this as a starting point in building a relationship with your audience.
#3 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Persuade, don’t just describe
It is important to remember that literary Instagram is a homegrown community and continues to rely on its members to remain relevant and expand. While writers may use this space to promote their own work, it is not intended for corporate advertising venture. Similar to reviews, when promoting their own work, writers often came up with compelling reasons for individuals to consume their work in particular. Telling people to simply go read your work is not enough, you have to tell them why they should do so as well.
#4 Good to Great; Add that extra effort
I observed a recurring theme of “two-in-one” style content. Wherever I saw individuals promoting their own work, there was also an extra twist. This could be in the form of merchandise with their work printed on it, tattoo ideas with their writing, artwork to supplement their writing, etc. While this is not necessary, it certainly allows promotional content to fit into the primary theme of personalised literary content that most #writersofinstagram follow. This allows users to be more perceptive of such content rather than simply writing it off as an advertisement.
#5 Memoirs of an All Rounder; Increase the ways people can consume your work
Similarly, I also saw people combining a particular skill they have with their passion for literature to create content. This varied from visuals to go along with the text in the form of comic strips, caricatures, illustrations, etc. or simply photographs of books, reading rooms, libraries, etc. The skill was always used to supplement literary content and bring out the passionate side of it. It gave the content an individualistic flair and helped distinguish it from other similar content found on the #writersofinstagram tag.
#6 Life As We Knew It; Make books a part of your daily life
By far the most common type of content I found was daily-vlog style personal accounts and anecdotes related to books. At the end of the day, reading and writing start off as hobbies, a way to unwind after a hectic day’s work. Many #writersofinstagram have regular jobs and run their blogs as passion projects. Hence, their content involves stories about lazy days, procrastination, travel, etc. Literature is seamlessly incorporated into daily life which allows viewers to relate to the style of presenting the content in addition to the content.
#7 The Alchemist; Guide your followers to new content
My final observation from studying the #writersofinstagram tag was the sheer abundance of collaborations in this space. I also noticed that the approach taken by most creators in this space is different from the typical cross-promotion technique used by influencers. Once again, a deep love for literature is at the core of these collaborations. As a result, they are centred around amplifying one another’s work. It is less about getting as many eyes as possible (which is the point of most traditional influencer collaborations), rather it is about getting the right kind of audience to give your work a chance. Hence, I found collaborations in the literary space on Instagram to be accurately researched, well-designed, and based on a focused objective. These collaborations worked less as shout-outs for new content and more as a compelling pitch to check out new content.
The world of the #writersofinstagram is complex and chaotic but bound by an endless appreciation for literature. It is a space where people bond over their love for reading and how this “hobby” has shaped their lives in several ways. Creators and consumers of literature alike have nurtured this space together and truly made it a one-stop-shop for anybody looking to find an online literary community.