One of the common frustrations that I hear from pre-published writers working to build their platform is, “If I don’t have a book, what do I talk about?”
I’m excited to share one of my favorite Instagram accounts with you. This account has more than five million followers. They don’t have a book, aren’t a famous influencer,don’t have a television show or a political platform. Yet, here is what you’ll regularly see in the comments about their posts:
“Give your social media team a raise.”
“Attention: to this account manager: WILL YOU MARRY ME?”
“Best account on IG.”
Countless more statements like this gush about the National Park Service Instagram account (@nationalparkservice). Yes, the National Park Service (NPS).
If you follow the National Park Service on Instagram, you know what I’m talking about.
Check out some of their Instagram posts.
For this last one, pay attention to the caption that goes with the photo. I love this!
You can take away three insights from the NPS Instagram account on how to create engaging, entertaining, and inspiring content. Whether you’re waiting for your first book contract or you’re between books, this is how we engage and add value to grow our audience.
- Be creative with how you convey basic facts or information.
“If not friend, why friend shaped?” is one of the most popular quips on the NPS account. I’m buying it as soon as the National Park Service puts that on a t-shirt. In the NPS bio, they have listed, “Don’t pet the fluffy cows.” People love that saying, too.
One important element that the NPS social media team never loses sight of is their overall goal: park safety and building interest. For all the fun posts on Instagram, park staff know the reality of people injured and even killed by wildlife or seriously injured by falls.
The NPS social media team crafts creative sayings and uses language to engage people while conveying an important message.
It’s a lot more fun to read “Don’t pet the fluffy cows” versus “Don’t touch!” or “Stay Away”!
Try this: Look back at your old social media posts and pick four posts with great graphics, but ho-hum engagement. Pick two or three you could re-post, but add new captions that restate your message in a creative, engaging way. Be patient! Moving words around takes time and energy until they hit, but you’re a writer, so you know how to wrestle with words.
2. Take What’s Familiar and Present It in an Unexpected Way
We’ve all seen bears before, hopefully, not up close. However, the National Park Service finds fun ways to take what’s familiar and make it fun for their followers. In September, they featured “Fat Bear Week.” Each day, they featured pictures with a different kind of bear and turned it into a social media contest inviting followers to vote for the fatest. In October, they hosted “Bat Week” to leverage Halloween. I skipped that one. Bats creep me out! But tens of thousands of others loved it!
Try this: If you write historical fiction, can you create “1800s Technology Week” or “Uncomfortable Shoes of the ’80s” (meaning the 1780s or 1880s -ha!). You can talk about quality of life or themes related to your books.
3. The Lynchpin of Successful Content is Making It Relatable!
Can I tell you about one additional fun account to follow? Author Jonathan Malm (@jonathanmalm) and his co-author released their recent ECPA best-seller, Don’t Burn Out, Burn Bright for ministry/church leaders. Burnout isn’t a topic that people are pumped to laugh about on social media, but Jonathan connects his topic to other church-related content through relatable and innovative IG posts. One of his most popular is an AI series that he created featuring AI-people who might attend your church. Go check it out!
For Jonathan, relatability is the secret sauce!
“I’m realizing more and more that success on Instagram isn’t necessarily being funny or awesome. People just want relatable content. They want to be able to see a post and say, “that’s so me!” or “that’s my friend!” When I do that well, my posts do well. So, when I post about burnout, I don’t necessarily offer solutions. I just show my followers that I get what they’re going through, and then it’s easy to direct them to my book in the caption.”
I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s post and feel a fresh spark of excitement and opportunity as you build engagement and your platform using social media. Thank you for joining us at Books & Such today!
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: As a hopeful or established author, how are you using your genre, your book’s theme, or your social media account to engage with others? What’s working for you and where are you hoping to improve?