When first ideating my DA, I had to consider the implications it may have for the future and how it could develop overtime to stay relevant for future generations to come. My Digital Artefact is a Bookstagram purely focusing on the beauty and aesthetic of literature ‘for the 21st century woman’. Within my Instagram, I have focused on women aged 18-30 and have interspersed my personal taste and passion for styling into my other largest passion, books! Within my DA, I am addressing the book community and hoping to create a piece of technology that will last the leaps and bounds of the social media community. In order to do this, I have attempted to create a niche (which I will further expand on within this report) and have interacted with followers in order to create several feedback loops throughout the process.
My DA relates directly back to the Future Cultures subject in that I am addressing the short-term future in respect to my own career within the book industry. In doing this, I have utilised my DA to create amazing career opportunities which I am excited to share within this contextual report.
What Is ‘Hey You Should Read This’?
To begin, I believe it’s vital to discuss my pitch and the original plan for this project. Since my second year of university and studying BCM subjects, I have been slowly ideating the idea of a bookstagram or book blog, however, my drive was not there as it had no real clear utility for the future or myself. Instead, I decided to simplify things back to basics and focus on a clear community which was 18-30 year old female media consumers. I chose this audience as it is who I relate to the most and feelI could form the strongest connection with for my chosen output. I say ‘media consumers’ instead of book readers as although my community is primarily literature focused, I have interspersed vinyls, fashions and aesthetically pleasing stylised objects to appeal to the modern-day young woman as a whole. While this saturates my market further, I have found it lucrative as it has drawn more of an audience and it is more relatable. I had created a basis of initial research as a guide for how I wanted my research to pan out.
I conducted research based on what was already within the market and found some really good points that I summarised within my pitch. I focused on similar content and observed what others where doing within the community and how I could adjust to suit what I wanted for my community. Here’s a brief summary of research that I believe was most valuable to me:
- The Uncorked Librarian’ (2021) suggests finding a niche. I channeled this advice to narrow down my account.
- Novotna (2021) states “bookstagrammers are a new asset in promotion repertoire which help publisher spread a good word about books”
- Wendell Bell (Moore, 2021) and a quote I have used as inspiration for my DA is “people seek the knowledge and wisdom to speak for the well-being of future generations”.
- Moore (2022) states “It is through movies, books, and even our Instagram posts, that we imagine what life could be like”.
I channeled this research and adapted it to my project in different ways. Although I felt that some research suited my project over other sources, I believe they all helped in various ways. I will touch further on this in my continual progression and refinement.
The lecture material proved to be really useful in the development of my DA. I find the task of predicting the future of work and media highly valuable. According to Wendell Bell (Moore, 2021) and a quote I have used as inspiration for my DA is “people seek the knowledge and wisdom to speak for the well-being of future generations”. This is what I was attempting to do through social media and finding a niche that will be long lasting and different to what is already out there. “It is through movies, books, and even our Instagram posts, that we imagine what life could be like” (Moore, 2021). I want to combine the use of the 21st centuries most popular app with the pasts most utilised source of knowledge, reading, to enhance online communities and connect us in different ways into the coming years. I developed the concept of futures personally as my career now lies in the book community. I have utilised this space to secure a job at HarperCollins, one of the worlds foremost publishing companies. Having seen the development of personal self through media proves how valuable the future of technology is, no matter what industry we are discussing.
Engagement and social utility
Within any community on Instagram but especially the traditional ‘Bookstagram’ community social engagement is incredibly vital for growth and development. Having a clearly defined social utility is also vital as without it, my DA would have just floated into the abyss that can be lost Instagram accounts. Engaging with followers and the Instagram community is essential for growth and to communicate who you are and what your brand is. I did this by initially ‘following’ a group of accounts that matched my vibe and what I was also trying to communicate. I gained inspiration from them and learnt so much including how to effectively use hashtags, how to talk to followers and how to use the bookstagram lingo. Once I gained 50 followers I started to comment on posts and follow back those who had followed me. After doing this, I started to see a vast increase in my likes, shares and comments. After this I found engagement to be an ever flowing loop and spiral effect as the more likes and comments I received, the more followers I gained and interacted with.
I am still gaining followers but have gone from 0 to 150 followers in the space of 2 weeks. This also links to the social utility of my blog. I wanted my space to be a comforting, aesthetically pleasing but still accessible online community for like-minded young women. I expressed this explicitly in my bio and through my use of styling. I want people to see my photos and perhaps feel inspired to read the book that I’m showing or feel that my style matches theirs. This is vital over time and for the future also as the book industry is truly booming with the revolution of new young authors so the relevance of books, especially now with the rise of Booktok and Booktokers, is at an all time high. The use of this through Instagram and technology keeps the conversation flowing.
My DA shifted considerably from the first stages of ideating to the stage it is in now. I started to design my research by sending out a survey to my BCM peers. This has kept my sample group manageable and roughly around the same age as my target group. I have taken on board the responses and interspersed this with my research so that I can post to suit exactly what bookstagrammers want and need out of their experience. I have also paid attention to my interactions. I believe likes and comments are the biggest indication of what we are doing right and what might not be working. Now that I am getting regular likes and comments (around 50 approx) I can see what people like form my comment based on their comments or my like-number average. I find that people seem to feel more drawn towards books styled into a room rather than just books placed randomly around. Because of this, I have started to do this more and have seen a great response!
Having peer feedback was really useful, especially as one comment I received was also studying the book community online.
A comment that I really resonated with was Pia’s. She was friendly, engaging and gave some really useful tips that I absolutely used throughout my production process. The main comment that I engaged with was the challenge to look into the future to see how my niche would survive. I thought about this and planned which led to the narrowing of my niche and style of Instagram as a whole. Before this comment, I was leaning towards contributing book reviews, however, studying and working full-time just does not allow a ton of leisurely reading time let alone a book a week for posting! By incorporating styling, I have ensured that I won’t disappoint by not uploading as it is more accessible and lasting.
The End is the Future
Although my DA changed and developed drastically from the first ideation stages, it will continue to grow and develop in the future also. This is what I am most excited for! I have started to plan for the future as I have now mixed this project into my resume and have received a job working at HarperCollins book publishers as a result of my passion for books and highlighting this within my life. I plan to continue ideating and using this Instagram as a place for people to interact and talk about books. I feel as though when there is passion behind something interspersed with a large fan base that is ever growing, there is potential for this DA to grow in the next 1,3 or 5 years. I want the future to be a place where the concept of “books being a dying format” is non-existent. We have so much to gain from reading and I can’t wait to see where else it takes me.