As we have previously established, bookstagram is a portmanteau consisting of books and Instagram. The aim is to share the love for books with fellow bibliophiles on Instagram. This can be spontaneous or planned, or even mixed, depending on what you hope to achieve with your bookstagram account.
Photographing and talking about books can be as much fun as reading. Still, this requires an audience, particularly when taking to social media. By and large, most of us do hope to grow our Instagram following. At the same time, we hope to stay relevant to our current followers. We want to interact and maybe even make friends with like-minded people. In order to do that, consistency is key.
Focus & Subject
Consistency is important in various areas. For bookstagram, I believe the primary point of consistency is focus and subject. The focus as the term bookstagram suggests, is books. That’s the starting point. If the content isn’t predominantly about books, I think it’ll be tough to pass off as a bookstagrammer. Sure, it’s everyone’s prerogative to post what they want but posting 90% photos of your cat and 10% of your books will attract a larger following of pet lovers. Your focus will determine your following.
That doesn’t mean you can only post book-related photos and nothing else. One bookstagrammer who artfully incorporates something other than books is @ziba.reads. She alternates between books and glimpses of Hawaii. However, even as she detracts from only posting about books, she remains consistent. This is one way of switching up content while staving off monotony. If every photos looks the same, your feed will get boring quickly, so look for ways to surprise but do so within reason — keep your focus.
Style & Theme
A very popular way of building consistency are “themes”. In the realm of bookstagram and Instagram at large, this means ensuring that photos bear a certain similarity to establish a trademark style. Take a look at the bookstagram accounts of @lettersalad, @writinglaraferrari and @michellesbooks. Even when they post photos sans books, I recognize that those are their photos without glancing at their usernames. The photos alone have their names stamped all over them and none of them add watermarks.
Examples of Consistent Themes
The way most bookstagrammers achieve a consistent theme is through filters. They edit their photos with photo editing apps such as VSCO or Snapseed. Often they’ll apply the very same presets to give their photos similar moods.
For @michellesbooks you’ll see a lot of whites with vibrant colours and high contrasts. Whites also rule @lettersalad’s feed but her colours are more muted and her compositions are mostly minimalistic. A combination of these styles can be found in @writinglaraferrari who incorporates a lot of white as well, though she goes for high contrast and muted colours.
While a white base is very popular for its versatility and clean look, there are other ways to stand out. @fictiontea has very diverse set-ups but her photos are distinct as well through her use of a darker filter. Personally, I’ve not anchored myself in any filter with @wordrevel and mostly love to make colours pop, pushing the saturation points to the highest degree that still looks natural. I also alternate between dominant white and mixed colour photos, so that my feed looks chequered.
Benefits of Fixed Themes
Determining a theme for yourself draws a lot of benefits. Applying a fixed style across all photos gives rise to a cohesive feed. Someone who is new to an account will much more likely tap the “follow” button. When the feed looks great as a whole, your followers will gobble up your photos for eye candy. Fixing a theme gives you the recognition factor when your photos show up in others’ feeds. When others recognize you, they’re much more likely to interact and comment on your photos.
On a creative level, some might feel limited by using the same filter over and over again. Others may grow bored. Yet keeping a theme also gives focus and direction. Over time you learn what looks good and you’ll come to frame your photos even before you pick up your camera. Knowing what you want to photograph can save a lot of time.
Beyond the photos, Instagram also gives space to captions. Some use that space to entertain. @outofthebex comes up with the most hilarious captions and makes it a point to connect with her followers on that level. @madamereadsalot gets up close and personal every so often.
While you may not think of yourself as witty and prefer to stay little more private, captions are a great way to reach out to others. Ask questions, share some thoughts on the books you’re featuring or let your excitement overflow. Whichever way you present yourself, make sure your voice shines through. When you consistently reach out, others will reply through comments. From there you’ll be able to foster new friendships.
Find a rhythm. Whether you post daily or twice weekly, try to stick to the schedule. Posting a photo then disappearing for weeks on end alienates you from your followers. There are so many people posting photos every day, that long gaps will cast you into oblivion. In order for others to notice you, you need to be a consistent presence on bookstagram. You want others to remember you.
On the other hand, avoid posting a lot of photos in one go. Spread them out over a few days. In the very least, post one photo every few hours. Clogging up others’ Instagram feeds isn’t cool. Yes, hauling ten books is great cause for excitement. Still, refrain from posting ten photos in a row. Round your book stack up in one photo or post a book haul photo a day.
If your output of photographs exceeds 365 photos a year, then post two or three photos over the course of a day. Pace yourself. Make sure that you neither overwhelm your followers nor fall into a posting drought. A good way to stay consistent is through scheduling with apps such as Latergramme. That way you can prepare ahead of time and still get to post even when you’re busy with life.