Last week I briefly touched on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and how each of these can be useful for networking and building your contacts. I find rather frequently that Instagram gets ignored from those whose work consists of words or from professions that are not image-based. Instagram and Twitter can be seen as primarily “the same.” I have even heard of Instagram being referred to as the illiterate-twitter. Those who are in the visual arts find value in sharing bits and pieces of their work in order to network and build a following or garner interest in their projects. Artists will also show a behind the scene image of their work station or a sped-up video of them painting.
But a social media application that is defined as photo/video-sharing can easily be brushed aside by writers or others whose work is non-image based. However, Instagram has many benefits that are often overlooked and I would suggest that others, creative writers specifically, look more closely at this app. From the practical side, I have found that many writing groups, authors, agents, readers, and publishers will use Instagram and its unlimited character count to promote their conferences, blogs, wish-lists, publication opportunities, or contests. This is a simple way to connect with professionals and see what they are doing, where they are speaking, what they are seeking, or what is big in the market at the moment. Agents often post images of freshly released book covers and post images from around the work-place. Being able to see behind the scenes of an agent’s daily life is exceptionally useful. Beyond being able to better understand what they are looking for and how they work Instagram also gives a glimpse into their lives and shows the aspiring author that they are in-fact real people and not some evil gate-keeper.
As a writer, I use Instagram to post pictures of writing, a snap-shot of my work-space, or a page littered with red ink as I edit and revise. I post images of my daily life as well (mostly my dogs) and scenery of where I live. I use this space to create an image for myself so if an agent were to “look me up” they would be able to see “at a glance” who I am, in a general sense. By using and searching specific hashtags I have been able to connect with others writers, critique partners, beta readers, and pages that are purely entertaining and post quotes about writing which makes me feel less alone while I am in the query trenches.
I use Instagram to keep in touch with family and friends, I use it to follow agents, writers, and various publications. I follow some pages simply because they post pretty pictures (it isn’t all business). As with any social media you are able to personalize your homepage through the accounts you follow. Instagram allows you to create a private page and filter who follows you, because, as with any social app, there are always spam accounts?but these are easily blocked, reported, and never heard from again. I also follow publications such as the New York Times. Sure, I could get a subscription, but I probably won’t. So this allows me a peek at what they are doing and insight to some of the world events.
The bottom line is that Instagram (like Twitter) is a resource for creating connections. It is a tool which can be used to run a “background check” and to see if you will “jive” with another professional. Instagram allows a look into the life of someone you may be considering working with (and vice versa). It gives you easy access to professionals who offer advice on getting into your specific field of interest. With any line of work having inside advice is essential, it used to be that you had to have a personal connection to be granted access to this information, but now it is readily available on these sites. It can seem daunting to create profiles for yourself and manage all these pages but it is absolutely worth the trouble of setting up and finding pages of interest.
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature