Bookstagram and Booktok for Libraries

Instagram and TikTok are trendy ways to reach a younger audience, especially teenagers.  Hashtags Bookstagram and Booktok are used interchangeably on both platforms, raising the popularity of books, new and old.  Librarians are aware of the necessity of monitoring these trends for our collections.  In the same sense, they are a tool to not only promote our collection, but programs. 

How do we do that as libraries? 

First, we need to understand exactly what a Bookstagram and Booktok are and how to put them together. 

Bookstagram

A Bookstagram is “a book lover’s instagram account that features a collection of artistically composed photos of books,” Penguin Random House.  This definition and much of the following information applies to a BookTok account so as not to repeat I will add the differences when covering Booktok.

When creating a Bookstagram, it is important to consider your handle/name, making it memorable and catchy.  Libraries should include the institution name and fun version of their logo as well as how much time is able to be allotted to social media. This is where, depending on your library’s policies, where volunteers can be helpful. Much of your creativity will be in the actual content and hashtags of postings. 

Decor items are a fun way to showcase books, for example, you can use items giving clues as the genre of the book or books reviewing such as magnifying glass for mysteries or vintage doilies for historical fiction.  Not everyone has the budget to keep these on hand or have a professional looking back drop. Sometimes, we only have time for a quick review, but libraries have many fun nooks and crannies that can be used!  Imagination is key here.  Watching and studying other library accounts helps in gaining ideas.  

Do not be shy in including yourself in a Bookstagram, I have found Instagram posts get more views and likes when librarians are present.  Patrons love to see their local librarian having fun and they always want to know what we are reading.

Captions is where the meat of the content lives.  This gives voice to the visual of the photo.  What is the book about? Why does the librarian like it so much? Where in the collection can I find it? Make the caption fun by utilizing emojis and links to the catalog where the book is located.  A Bookstagram is essentially a quick reader’s advisory or LibGuide. If you have time, include a read-a-likes.  Younger readers tend to use Bookstagram and BookTok the most and they tend to be influenced by visuals and easy access to what they are looking for.

BookTok

BookTok adds a more precise video element to sharing books.  Captions are used less because the video can be used to convey most of what is shared in a caption. Be careful, as captions are not as easy to read on TikTok.  Much fun can be had with a BookTok and teen volunteers may have fun creating the content about books they are reading and more. 

Creating a BookTok is simple. You don’t need a special camera, your phone will do the job. Editing can be done right on TikTok or downloading apps such as CapCut or Microsoft Clipchamp are helpful ways to edit videos.  I do not always have a video and find I need to create a video with still photos and have found Clipchamp helpful for this. I do this for many of the teen programs I hold, but want to be mindful of not sharing any faces.  

I have discovered that once I create a TikTok from my phone it automatically adds it to my gallery.  I can then share it on the library’s Instagram account which I have connected to Facebook and the video is now shared on all three platforms.  This ensures it is shared with all age groups. I find if a Teen does not see it, their parents will and share it with them.  I use every method possible to reach my Teen patrons.  

Music can aid in reaching more followers, especially those that are trendy.

Hashtags

Hashtags are the umph in raising viewership. The more hashtags added to a Bookstagram or Tiktok the greater the findability.  At the moment, it is not always easy to come up with all the hashtags you would like.  I tend to see what other libraries are using, my community, target audience, city, state, author’s name, book name, if using music, the name of the song and artist, genre, elements within the book, and whatever I can think of that will catch people’s attention. 

Bookstagram and Booktok are a fun way to share what is new or popular in your collection and can take some time, but it is worth all the effort because in many cases it is the only way to reach patrons, especially teen patrons who find Facebook too old and don’t always check their email.  

The most important takeaway is have fun!

-Crystal Macias and Jennifir Huston