How Influential Writers Can Build Their Instagram Brands

    April 02 2019

    A picture is worth a thousand words, and creative professionals from a number of fields have embraced this idea by finding unique ways of promoting themselves and their work through innovative content on Instagram. This is especially true of writers, as social media often lends itself as the perfect platform for content creators and storytellers of all mediums. With that in mind, today's article will further assess how a few influential writers have utilized Instagram and visual content to build their personal brands and showcase their work.

    Using Instagram Effectively as a Writer

    While at a glance it may seem like a challenge for a writer to make their mark on a platform like Instagram, we've seen some innovative ways to tap into visual content. The below examples further demonstrate how a few leading influential writers have cultivated a distinct aesthetic, and in turn, attracted a cult following. The resurgent interest in poetry has opened up doors for modern poets to tap into this trend and build a personal brand that is reflective of their POV as a writer. For instance, let's look at influencer-poet Cleo Wade (@cleowade). Collectively, Cleo's Instagram aesthetic very much aligns with the minimalist visual trend that has swept across the Instagram community. However, her big differentiator is in the details: In addition to sharing select snippets of her work, Cleo has done this effectively by remaining consistent with a unique "handwritten" quality that has become distinctive to her personal brand. Furthermore, Cleo also breaks up this content by posting select photos of her events, influencer projects, and collaborators that all inspire her work. This approach has proven to be effective for Cleo as she can contextualize further who she is outside of her identity as a writer, thus providing more opportunities for a greater audience to connect with her story both personally and professionally.

    "Using Instagram to promote your work as a writer spans far beyond providing beautiful visuals."
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    In a similar vein, Rupi Kaur (@rupikaur_) has taken this approach one step further as evidenced by her very regimented grid aesthetic which features an even alternation of simple, copy-only posts and artfully-captured portraits of her. Like Cleo, Rupi has maintained an evenly curated aesthetic in her copy- focused posts which include the same font, text alignment, and color palette. The photos of Rupi also point to announcements, personal reflections, and inspiration around her process and journey as a self- published poet. Looking at both of these examples demonstrates that visual minimalism creates more space for a writer's audience to connect with the broader narrative behind each post as opposed to just a "pretty" image. Our next example focuses on prominent authors — like Stephanie Danler (@smdanler) the author behind the highly-acclaimed novel Sweetbitter. As the book has gained traction, Stephanie has used her growing platform to engage with her community by sharing a glimpse into her creative growth through posting photos from brand partnerships, readings, and most notably, behind the scenes moments and updates from the television adaptation of Sweetbitter. Furthermore, Stephanie's commitment to sharing written "snapshots" from writers and books that she loves also plays into the community-building aspect of Instagram, which demonstrates the opportunity authors have to promote their point of view while championing others in the process. Another example is Jessica Bennett (@jessicabennett). The prominent writer and author of Feminist Fight Club has bylines in some of the world's most respected publications, but despite her acclaim, has chosen to keep her (well-followed) Instagram account private, and instead, point people to follow her work on branded Instagram accounts of publications and companies she works with — including her book's account @feministfightclub. When looking at the book's dedicated Instagram page, the strategy takes a different direction as the feed features a mix of content ranging from culturally-relevant memes to informative posts that all tie back to Feminist Fight Club's larger editorial themes. This particular example demonstrates the many opportunities that come with creating a separate "brand" account, as it allows an author to build upon how the book's themes can be explored/engaged with, and how the book itself can be marketed outside of the author's immediate follower base. When looking at examples from these authors, it's clear that using Instagram to promote your work as a writer spans far beyond providing beautiful visuals, but rather by creating a community through approachable, culturally-relevant, and candid content. Finally, as the digital landscape has created space for virtually anyone to self-publish, it's been especially interesting to watch the personal brands of notable culture writers and bloggers develop through social content. LaTonya Yvette (@latonyayvette), is an interesting example of this shift. The lifestyle blogger/ soon-to-be-published author has grown her Instagram in a way that caters to her followers' expectations for high-quality visuals (which range from her style to travel to inspiration imagery). However, this visual curation has helped to support LaTonya's greater storytelling efforts in her writing about themes like motherhood and wellness. This approach now also extends to sharing tidbits and insights into writing her first book Woman of Color. While LaTonya has teased the cover of the book along with a few images, she has used the power of visual storytelling to enhance her point of view as a writer and give her audience something to connect with that both inspires and informs them about her process.

    "Storytelling brings people together and builds community."
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    Takeaways and Tips

    As evidenced in the above examples, there are so many ways writers can take their personal brand and work to the next level through dynamic social content. To close out this article, here are a few of our recommended tips for writers looking to crafting a strategy that is conscious of the digital landscape:

    1. Create and Collaborate - Social media is inherently built on collaboration, which provides opportunities to team up with visual content creators to help create assets that inspire interest in a larger story and catch someone's attention mid-scroll. Working with visual storytellers is a sure way of creating beautiful content — from graphically designed pull-quotes from an article to reimagined illustrated covers from classic novels — that is both aesthetically pleasing and mutually beneficial for all involved creative parties.
    2. Culture is Key - Creatives respond to cultural phenomenons through their respective medium, and the digital age has allowed them to use social media to bring their work to the masses. Writers are on the cusp of this and can use Instagram not only to showcase their work but spark conversations that connect people personally and professionally.
    3. Storytelling Builds Community - In any case, storytelling brings people together and builds community. Writers have a unique opportunity to pose thoughtful questions and engage with their respective communities. And on a more pragmatic level, engaging with peers online ultimately provides more opportunities for cross-promotion and avenues for discovery to grow their audiences.

    Are you a creative looking for more tips and tricks on how to use Instagram to grow your personal brand? Be sure to revisit all of our Best Practices articles here on the PLANOLY Blog or reach out our team with any questions or feedback!


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