Welcome to #Bookstagram | Decoding the Community
We've been doing this whole #bookstagram thing for about a year now, so we thought it might be time to share a little of what we've learned about this community. I'll be honest, when I first started this, I had no idea what was going on in this community. I sincerely couldn't make heads or tails of what was happening, and couldn't find a good guide to the community online either. So here I am, sharing the secrets of the bookstagrammers for all you newbies confused by all the fairy lights and hashtags.
First, let me say, this community is the nicest little corner of the internet I've ever had the pleasure of inhabiting. Quite truthfully, everyone on here is just the absolute best and we've made some genuine connections with people, making it feel like a real community and not just a crush of pretty photos. People on here genuinely want to talk to you, so don't be shy about messaging people.
Hint: Click on the images to see bookstagrammers we love!
SOME BASICS: Bookstagram is a bookish little corner of Instagram, where accounts are dedicated primarily to people's reading lives, with the purpose of connecting with other readers and sharing great books. Because of this, if you choose a username that sounds bookish, people are going to be more likely to click over to your profile versus your name or something.
With that said, INTERACTION IS EVERYTHING. Let me tell you, shy or not, message people that interest you. The worst that can happen? You might not get a response, nothing is lost and you move on. If you simply can't reach out so boldly, respond to their stories and comment on their photos. It's the most effective way to make friends and make you feel like this space is worthwhile. The entire concept of Instagram is CONNECTION.
DEVELOP YOUR OWN STYLE. Hate the colorful explosions? Hate the fairy lights? Hate the ultra-minimal? Find your own groove for what you personally like in a photo and try to follow accounts that inspire you. USE THE LIBRARY, because it's just not worth it to purchase every book you read, nor does it make financial sense when you're photographing books on the daily.
TALK ABOUT BOOKS, because nothing is more conflicting than being interested in a photo (or specific book in said photo) and the caption doesn't relate in any possible way. Most people don't do this though, and will talk about the book they're featuring - because readers simply love to talk about books. This can be a great way to find out about titles, learn peoples tastes, and figure out who's recommendations you trust - or even - find you new online bff, or bookish soul mate. Seriously.
DON'T TAKE NUMBERS PERSONALLY. They don't mean a thing; interaction is all that matters! Accounts grow and shrink all the time, and the algorithm makes posts perform inconsistently, so pay no mind to the numbers attached to your account. Granted, it can be hard when you have a purpose, want an audience, want to raise awareness, or whatever, but authenticity (or lack thereof) comes across whether you realize it or not. Focusing on numbers and not on the people will kill the joy for you so fast.
THAT BEING SAID, IF YOU WANT TO GROW stay consistent, post often, join in on community things, and simply talk to people! Develop your own aesthetic and showcase your taste in books, talk about what you're reading, what you like, what you recommend. INTERACT INTERACT INTERACT! That's the only way you're going to genuinely grow! Honestly, what is the point of being on a SOCIAL media platform, if you don't plan to socialize?!
PHOTO CHALLENGES. A ton of people do these. They're a great way to stay inspired to take photos, or just join in on occasionally. They're also a great way for you to find other accounts and connect. Challenges create their own microcosm of community, and are just a fun and easy way to connect. We started ours at the beginning of the year and have reached over 1,500 posts, simply because we genuinely love to connect with people interested in literary lifestyle like we are.
STORIES. Post them and encourage people to respond to them. It's a great way to show a less polished side of your bookish life and let people get to know the person behind the account. It's not just about 'shout outs', it's about books, you, and the community.
If you are interested in doing Shout Outs (SFS = shout out for shout out) on your stories, do it because you like that person/account, and if you're genuinely interested in the bookish community, do not ask for them. There is an etiquette here. We're looking to create real interactions and engagement. Show off accounts you love and they might return the favor, or join in when people specifically ask for people to do a SFS if you feel like you want some exposure for your account!
HASHTAGS. Use them. People scroll through them a lot. Find some that are big and some that are smaller, check what other accounts are using on their posts and see if there's one that's a good fit for you. We struggled to find others who shared and were interested in what we were when starting in on the Bookstagram community. It was through hashtags that we found #literarylifestyle existed and then created our own #theardentbiblioreads.
BE PATIENT. It takes time to get immersed into a new community of people, whether online or in person. If you're really interested in something (like books), then share that with others through your photos and interactions. Getting involved in conversations, in photo challenges, and anything else you can find that sparks your interest. We don't have it all down and we aren't pros at social media by any means, we just had an idea and went with it. From the beginning we've shared exactly who we are and stuck to our own style. For the most part, it has worked for us and we are so happy with the people who we've become "friends" with.
We wish you the best of luck, and if we haven't connected already, don't be afraid to reach out and say, "Hello!" We're friendly, promise!
Photos shown include some of our very favorite Bookstagrammers who have taken the time to engage and build a community with us. Whether through photo challenges, message conversations, and/or photo comments, we have built incredible friendships with these ladies (click the photo to see their Instagram) and it has made all the effort so worth it!
Did we miss anything? Tell us about your experience with Bookstagram!