How to Get More Followers on Bookstagram

On any social media platform, followers are king. On bookstagram in particular, having lots of followers can result in some real, tangible benefits -- publishers sending you free books and ARCs, bookish companies sending you free merch, and sometimes even sponsorship deals that can earn you actual money.

Who doesn't love free stuff? Thus, the challenge becomes: how can I get more followers for my bookstagram account?

I already wrote a post about how to get free books and ARCs from your bookstagram, but you'll definitely have more success with the methods I outlined in that post if you have a decent follower count. So that's what I'm going to talk about today.

I'm not gonna pretend like I'm some mega bookstagram celebrity, but I've had my account for about 15 months and I currently have a hair under 3,000 followers. That's not necessarily a *huge* follower count, but it's big enough that I've been lucky enough to have publishers send me free books and companies offer me free stuff.

In this post, I'll cover:

  • The mindset you need to get more followers
  • My basic strategy for getting more bookstagram followers
  • When you should unfollow people
  • How the follower/following ratio comes into all of this
  • General tips to make people want to follow you

So, before we get into my tips for growing your follower count, I want to propose a little mindset shift.

The Mindset You Need to Get More Followers

Talking about growing your follower count seems like a hard numbers game, but that's only a tiny slice of the story. After all, if numbers were all that mattered, you could just buy a few thousand fake Instagram followers and call it a day.

The followers you should aim for, in my opinion, aren't just numbers -- they're people. Real, live people who want to see your pictures and interact with you and share their thoughts with you.

When you think about it, that's pretty freaking awesome.

So when I'm thinking about how to grow my following, I actually think about how to create connections with people. In my opinion, that's what bookstagram is all about -- making friends who love books as much as you do.

With that in mind, let's get into the strategy I use to make new bookstagram friends.

My Strategy For Getting More Bookstagram Followers

Okay, here's the part you came for. When I'm trying to grow my account, here's what I do:
  1. Find an account I want to follow
  2. Like a few of their posts and leave a meaningful comment or two
  3. Follow them
  4. Rinse and repeat
Why does this work? Because these kinds of actions show the person that I like their account and want to meaningfully engage with it. Then, if they're interested in my account, they often follow me back, with the expectation that we're actually going to meaningfully engage with each other's posts.

Basically, it's the beginning of a beautiful bookish friendship!

I do have a few criteria for finding which accounts to follow, which are as follows:
  • Do they follow some accounts similar to mine? This indicates that they might like my posts (I often go through the follower lists of some of my fellow YA bookstagrammers to find possible accounts to follow)
  • By a similar token, do they read and feature the kinds of books I post about?
  • Do they have a reasonable follower/following ratio? If they have thousands of followers and only follow a few dozen people, this might indicate that they only follow their personal friends back.
  • Have they posted recently?
  • Are their photos pretty? After all, if these people's photos are going to be on my feed, I want them to look nice :D
You might be thinking that this process takes a while, and yeah, it does. But the results are well worth it, in my opinion. I've made so many new friends on bookstagram from it, and it's much more fulfilling than having a bunch of faceless followers who don't actually care about the content you create.

"But Ellie," you say, "what if they don't follow me back?" Glad you asked that, because now I'm going to cover ...

When You Should Unfollow People

Every so often, I use a third-party tool to see which accounts aren't following me back (these kinds of tools change all the time, so I don't have any specific recommendations, but trust me -- they're out there). Then, I just unfollow those accounts.

I figure that if someone isn't following me back, they're not all that interested in my posts, so why try to make that connection? (Admittedly, there are some accounts that I make an exception for because they're SO DARN PRETTY)

Even though you may be tempted, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you don't follow people just to unfollow them if they start following you. That's kinda rude, to be honest, and it's no way to make meaningful connections.

The only time I EVER unfollow people who are still following me is if I'm not interested in their content anymore, if they've been inactive for a long time, or if they express hateful opinions.

There's this idea that you have to have a good follower ratio to make your account look popular, so I'm going to go ahead and talk about that now.

What About the Follower Ratio?

If you're not already aware, the follower/following ratio is something that a lot of people point to as a sign of a successful social media influencer. After all, if there are two accounts with 4,000 followers, but one of them is following 7,000 people and the other is only following 100, it's pretty obvious which account has more clout.

With my method, you might be a little worried about "messing up" your ratio. I mean, if you're following all these people and not unfollowing them unless they don't follow you, won't your ratio end up looking bad?

Well, actually, no. As your account grows, you'll get a lot of people following you just because they found your account and liked it. However, not all of those people will have accounts that you're interested in following back.

For example, there are a lot of people who follow me from their private personal accounts (many of whom I've become great bookstagram friends with nonetheless!), and I just don't feel comfortable following private personal accounts when I don't know the person in real life. Like, I wouldn't want some random book influencer looking at my ugly selfies or family photos!

Assuming you don't follow back every single account who follows you, your ratio will be just fine. Sure, it might not be a 4,000-to-100 ratio, but come on, the aim is to make friends here. You can have a perfectly decent follower ratio and still make meaningful connections.

How to Make People WANT to Follow Your Bookstagram Account

Of course, this strategy will be more successful if a high percentage of the people you interact with actually follow you back. Luckily, there are some simple ways to make your account appealing to people:
  • Take nice photos. It's kind of a no-brainer, but people love following accounts that have appealing layouts and well-placed props.
  • Not every account *needs* a theme, but if you can find one you love, so much the better.
  • Post regularly. I usually post every day, but you can do it every other day or a couple of times a week if that works for you. A well-updated account is an appealing account.
  • Write engaging captions. People will be more inclined to interact with your account if you make it ... well, interactive! Try asking a question in every post so that people have something to comment about.
  • Taking photos of popular books is more likely to get you likes and other kinds of engagement. Yeah, it kinda sucks, but people are more likely to be interested in your posts if they can recognize the books in them. When I want to feature a less-popular book, I usually put well-known bestsellers in the photo with it to draw people in.
  • If you have the resources, try hosting a giveaway! I've gotten HUGE follower boosts from hosting bookish giveaways where one of the requirements for entry is that people follow me.
  • If you do host a giveaway, I highly recommend only giving away book-related things. If you give away an Amazon gift card or something, you'll probably end up with a bunch of followers who don't really care about your content and will unfollow you the second the giveaway is over.

Final Thoughts

It's easy to get caught up in the stats and the follower counts on social media, but at the end of the day, we're in the bookish community to make friends and flail about books. In my opinion, your measure of success shouldn't be how many followers you have -- it should be about how much fun you're having!

I'm not gonna pretend like I don't ever get swept up in the numbers, but I'm trying to cultivate the mindset that connections > stats. Your number of likes can fluctuate a LOT over time, and Instagram's algorithm changes so frequently that it's hard to maintain a crazy high engagement rate or an account that gets tons of new followers all the time. But even the almighty algorithm can't take away your connections with people.

So go forth, make connections, and don't stress too much about the numbers ;)

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