Instagram is social media for image sharing, so comics naturally work well. Even if you’re not a webcomic creator, you may still find value in this post about what I’ve learned over the past 6 months using Instagram. I’ve learned how to get followers on Instagram, but more importantly I’ve developed strategies for bringing them to this website.
Let’s begin with how to get started with Instagram.
Why I created an Instagram page
Honestly, the reason I didn’t have Instagram for the first few years of this comic is because I did not have a smart phone. Also, I was afraid that adding yet another platform for fans to read my comics would mean even less traffic to my website, which is where I monetize traffic using Adsense .
I decided to jump aboard the Instagram bandwagon because it hosts over 700 million users. Despite of my fear of losing website traffic, that’s a lot of potential eyes. Contrary to Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is a self-contained app dedicated entirely to images.
What comic artists need to know about Instagram
Three things are important for a comic artist:
- Followers are more likely to see your post on Instagram than on Facebook: Scrolling through the diverse and convoluted Facebook feed is much more tiring than swiping through easily-digestible images on your phone. Also, since anything goes on Facebook, your content is pushed ever further down by nearer posts until it’s past the point of no return.
- You can’t link out from standard Instagram posts: What I meant when I said Instagram is self-contained is that users stay put. Facebook feeds take users away from Facebook–which is something I actually aim for when I post to Facebook; Instagram users read the content and keep scrolling.
- Hashtags are actually useful: I’ve come to realize that using hashtags on Facebook is ineffective. Instagram however seems to welcome them wholeheartedly. Already I’ve seen increased exposure thanks to rather generic hashtags that I include in captions, and it doesn’t seem to have any negative effect on engagement (probably because everyone uses hashtags).
How to post a comic to Instagram
Posting to Instagram is easy, and since there are already superb tutorials out there, I won’t go into detail. I’ll leave you some good literature:
- How to post to Instagram from a desktop
- Good advice on strategies for posting to Instagram (including other images besides comics)
- How to upload multiple images to a single Instagram post (because by default Instagram posts are single images)
One detail I will go into is how to post non-square images. Don’t waste your time like I did creating square images of 6-panel long rectangular comics in Photoshop, sending yourself the image, saving it to your phone and uploading. Instead, download the app Squareready. I navigate to the image I want on my website using the Chrome app, download it, open Squareready, click the little atom icon, use the bottom buttons to adjust the image, then click the green check mark to open Instagram.
Strategies for bringing Instagram followers to your website
I spent some time reading about how to make money on Instagram, but like Facebook and Twitter, there is no native way to earn an income using Instagram.
For passive creators like me, who create an online store but then don’t do much promotion, much of our income depends on ad serving on our websites. So how do you bring Instagram followers to a website if links cannot be placed in post captions?
There are three ways to do it. I’ll present these strategies from least effective to most effective:
- Include a link on the image: A CTA (Call to Action) exists on all of my images. Instead of a signature, my comics have a URL indicating where to find the comic and its respective bonus panel and poem. Wherever my comic is shared, there’s this itty bitty incentive to come back to my website.
- CTA in the caption: I could tell my followers on the caption of each post that there’s a bonus panel on the website. The problem with this is the same reason why the former strategy is less effective: people are too lazy to type the URL in the address bar. The other problem is that you waste real estate in the caption where you might instead make an impression with yet another pun to accompany the comic.
- Post Instagram stories: There is another feature of Instagram called Instagram stories (and here’s a big FAQ about how to use them). These are posts that do not appear on your page’s history, but they do show up on followers’ feeds. They last for 24 hours and then disappear. The idea is taken unabashedly from Snapchat, no doubt. The best part about these? Instagram stories can be linked to online content!
I need space to elaborate.
How I use Instagram Stories to bring followers to my comic website
The first step is to connect your Instagram account with your Facebook page, only then will Instagram Stories be available. Click the camera icon at top.
Either take a live photo or video, or click at bottom left to open a library of images from the last 24 hours. Sometimes, images I save from the web don’t show up here. Even when they do, they are out of proportion. Instagram Story images should share the dimensions of a screenshot on your device.
Here’s an example of an image I made for Instagram Stories to share a new Letter I’d written:
My Instagram Story comic strategy
It takes time to make custom images for stories. It doesn’t make sense to bring followers to my site if they’ve already seen the image, so I’ve set Instagram Stories aside to promote the bonus panels for each comic:
- First, I capture a screenshot of the comic of the day where it lives on thingsinsquares.com
- I copy the URL
- I click the camera icon and select my screenshot
- To add the link, I click the link icon at top
- Then I add some text by clicking the a_ icon. It’s a CTA asking the follower to swipe up, which akin to clicking the external link to my site
- I select a brush to give some solid color background to the text
- Click “next”, select your page’s story, and click “send”
This is what I share to the Instagram Story:
This is a work in progress. There are more creative ways to do this I’m sure. Perhaps I should take photos or video of things around me as an intriguing look into my world–only, I’m not sure how it has anything to do with bonus panels.
The point is that strategies evolve. This is what I have at the moment. Stats show the practice is working. I only started doing this recently:
Once I figure out the best times to publish something to my “story”, visits will increase.
If you have a comic, and you share to Instagram, I think this could be useful to you.
Other articles you might like to read:
- Facebook Page Suggestions: How My Page Got a Massive Increase in Likes
- How to Post a Comic to Reddit using Imgur
- When You Accidentally Plagiarize Content
- Instagram Blocked my Account with a Shadowban
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