Without a doubt, the best thing about bookstagram is the chance to connect with readers across the world. I’ve met so many lovely people (And a few not-so-lovely people, but what can you do?) that I compiled a list of my favorite ways to engage with fellow bibliophiles and make the most of our bookish community.
1. Host Giveaways
Instead of using giveaways exclusively to grow your account, think of them in terms of saying ‘thank you’ to your followers (many of the followers you gain during a giveaway will unfollow later anyway). If you make your giveaways exciting, simple to enter, and international whenever possible, many of your followers will appreciate the effort and want to stick around.
2. Use hashtags
Yes, hashtags are important. They allow people who don’t follow you to discover your account and interact with you. When you use smaller, more relevant hashtags for your photos, you increase the chance of getting higher likes and comments (often, your photos will just be buried within huge hashtags like #books or #bookstagram).
Don’t just use hashtags on your photos, though—interact with them. Scroll through the other photos with the same hashtags you’re using, liking and commenting on your favorites. Often, the accounts you visit will choose to return the favor.
3. Leave Comments
I have a few friends who leave thoughtful comments on most of the photos I post, and I appreciate the time they take so much that I try to do the same for them.
Make it a rule never to comment on someone’s photo without reading the caption first. It drives me crazy when people ask me questions I’ve already answered in my caption, and I tend to ignore them on principle because, if they can’t take the time to read what I wrote before commenting, I don’t feel compelled to respond.
4.Use Engaging Captions
People love to talk about themselves, so ask them questions! I’m about a hundred times more likely to comment on someone’s photo when they’ve asked an interesting question.
Make your captions easy to read with shorter sentences and lots of spacing. I know I’m not the only one who’s guilty of scrolling past lengthy captions. I tend to ramble as much as the next person, but my shorter captions with unique questions get more engagement than anything else.
5. Respond to Comments
When someone goes to the trouble of reading your caption and leaving a reply, responding to them is the decent thing to do. Additionally, I know plenty of people who unfollow accounts that never respond to their comments.
Here is my system for dealing with comments: thoughtful comments with questions or unique feedback get a response from me. Basically, if someone makes an effort, I want to do the same. Kind but unengaged comments (something like “great photo” or a jumble of emojis) usually just get a like. And passive aggressive or annoying comments get ignored.
Note: at some point, it will become impossible to interact with every single comment on your account without being on Instagram all day, so just do your best to engage with the majority of the comments you receive while still having a life outside of Instagram.
6. Host or Participate in Readalongs
One of the best ways to interact on bookstagram is (you guessed it) with books! If you’re planning to pick up a difficult book or an exciting new release, it’s so fun to read it with someone else for moral support and discussions along the way.
Even if you don’t want to host your own readalong, it’s easy to find other accounts that are. Look for people reading books on your tbr and join in! I’ve made some of my best and oldest friends on bookstagram just through readalongs.
7. Be the Bigger Person
*Sigh* The worst thing about having a public account is the trolls that will inevitably pop up. Whenever someone chooses to leave an unkind comment, the adult thing to do is delete the comment if it’s bugging you, block the account if they’re coming off aggressive in any way, and move on.
If you respond to mean comments with something equally petty, you are putting those words out for everyone to see and it could make you look like an even bigger bully. I’ve definitely posted some snarky retorts on my page, but, for the most part, I try to recognize that those rude people are not worth my time.
Finally, the most important thing to keep in mind is that bookstagram is meant to be fun and fulfilling. If your account is making you stressed or anxious, sometimes the best thing to do is take a step back. Figure out a way to engage with the community that works for you and doesn’t detract from your personal life.