I recently joined Instagram and have been experimenting with it and finding out how it works. So I thought it was a good opportunity to look at it compared to Twitter and consider what their pros and cons were for me as a writer.
Twitter I’ve been on for years, though the amount I’ve engaged with it has varied considerably. I first starting using it as a way to network with my fellow librarian colleagues. Though my life has moved on from there and I’m now using it mainly to participate in various writing games. These are weekly or daily prompt words or themes that you then have to incorporate into a tweet story. This can be an individual tweet, or you can string them together over weeks/months/years to make a longer piece of fiction. The one I do the most is #vss365 or very short stories, though I have to admit I don’t manage to write one every day. I do enjoy participating, and it gives me the chance to work on different aspects of writing craft in a small structured way. For example, I might do a series of responses that are all dialogue, or just description, or work on adding a twist at the end. If you’re interested in finding out more about what games there are to follow then @writevent as they post a list of them everyday.
On the other hand Instagram is more about the aesthetic. Ideally you want your grid (the first photos that show on your profile) to have a consistent theme and branding. And if you end your post with a question it encourages people to reply to it. So, I’m trying to post there more about my process of writing and where I’m up to in my WIP. With things that inspire me, or are relevant to what I’m writing. But some more fun, family related posts slip in too. I’m still building a following, and finding out who’s there for me to follow, so it’s early days. I’m also exploring the different hashtags to see which are interesting and working out exactly what I want to do with it now I’ve set up on Instagram. Now I really need to work on my photos, so they look as good as I can make them!
When I posted about my promotion a couple of weeks ago (I put all four of my short stories for free over one weekend), it seemed to me that I got a better response from Instagram than Twitter. But that is purely my unscientific feeling, as I have no data to back that up with!
Personally I don’t want to repeat the same posts on every platform. I want to separate them and give people a reason to want to follow me on all of them. But equally I don’t want to spend all my time on social media and not writing. So, I can see how I can use Twitter (for the prompts and games) and Instagram (for progress reports and pretty pictures), but how then does Facebook fit in? A social media strategy is always under construction to a certain extent, so I’ll see how these tools work together over the next few months and reassess.