I have had an Instagram account for a while. I think I signed up during the Great Depression, maybe 1934 or so. My memory, no doubt thanks to my brain having become shriveled during the quarantine, especially concerning dates, especially the date I started on Instagram, is very fuzzy. If I’m being honest it’s the next step up from fuzzy. Like, super, out-of-control hairy, maybe? (One of the great mysteries of the English language.)
Until recently I hadn’t really used it much. This is not atypical for me. I’ll explain.
Because I like to appear as though I’m riding a wild stallion in the vanguard I generally get an account with everything that comes alone, usually relatively early in its history. A lot of times the app or whatever never pans out, or flashes then fades. Every now and again the app or site or whatever it is stands out a bit and I start using it in earnest, still able to slip my thumbs behind my suspenders alá James Taylor on the cover of Mudslide Slim, and act all superior because of my impressive “member since” date. Sometimes I even say something like, “A-yuh! Been a member of that there Instantgroin since nineteen and thirtuh-four!”
You’d be amazed at the things I sometimes say.
Now let me tell you why I’ve started using my account. Being an author in the 21st Century carries with it many ancillary duties, one of which is a need for almost constant self-promotion. With the explosion in the world of independent publishing it takes a lot of hollering from the rooftop to get your work noticed. So we tend to look to social media as one of the ways to get noticed, and, once perceived, to stay on the public’s radar.
So as I’ve gotten further in my career I’ve continued to look for outlets, and have gone back through my collection of mothballed accounts to look for places I can get the word out about my writing.
In the case of Insta, it’s also a great place to post pictures of my dog.
What can I say? I like my dog. But I’ve also posted pictures of some nice sunsets, and every now and then I even post something related to writing.
For the most part these various self promotion efforts haven’t really taken off. None of the accounts have very many followers (yet). With Instagram, however the progression of followers has been interesting in itself.
Many of my earliest followers were family. Then when Facebook acquired it I gained several followers from my FB friends. Then some of my readers found me, then a few more. Then, over the past three weeks or so there was a huge influx of obviously fake accounts. People with no followers but who are following 120 people. People with one or two pictures posted, or with several, all of them young women who probably have nothing to do with the person who actually owns the account.
Most of them just follow and that’s the end of it. Many send me direct messages, all of which I delete unanswered. Some actually take the time to react to the pictures I post, but ultimately I suspect all of them are hoping to gain financially by my inability to harness my hormonal horses. Sorry, dear sir or madame. Not happening.
The wave of those sorts of followers seems to have crested and now I’ve entered a new phase where I’m getting emails from companies that have “come across my account,” and are eager to help me get approximately eleven more followers than there are human beings on the planet. I haven’t replied to any of these either, because, among other reasons, they don’t actually state anywhere that the followers will be human. In those kind of numbers I fear they may list microbes among their subscribers.
Here’s why I’m not overly concerned with what appear to be an endless stream of catfish swimming directly at me: Along with shamelessly self-promoting myself I also like to use these platforms to encourage other writers. So the more the merrier. I’ve also begun to develop my hashtag game, realizing that using heavily-followed hashtags extend your reach beyond your actual followers, (learned that trick from an Insta veteran – as well as saving them as a note on my phone to speed things up. THANK YOU.)
I’ll continue to look for ways to get the word out, and I’ll continue to encourage other writers and when the worst is over and things “return to normal,” I’ll still be socially tucked away as any author worth his salt will be as well. And I’ll continue to do the only thing that anyone needs to do who wants to be a writer: