'Look at Me': The first-ever Instagram book is a self-help guide for brands

You’ve read books in print. You might have read books online or on a mobile device. But until now you probably haven’t read a book on Instagram.

Jason Sperling, executive creative director at agency RPA, on Friday began publishing his new 160-page (and growing) book, “Look at Me When I’m Talking to You,” exclusively on the platform — one page at a time. Each post represents a page, and is composed of an animated illustration accompanied by text in the caption section.

The book is a how-to guide for brands looking to foster consumer engagement and loyalty in an increasingly fractured landscape. And in the interest of grabbing said attention, Sperling turned to illustrations — and Instagram — helped by his illustrator, creative director at RPA, Nik Piscitello.

“It felt like a great way to practice what I was preaching,” Sperling told Digiday. “If I am talking about how hard it is to break through to customers today, and if this is how I’m consuming all my information these days, it makes sense to put it in bite-sized portions on Instagram.”

Sperling considered other platforms but found Tumblr “looking too much like a blog” and Facebook being a place for more “personal” posts. Instagram, more than the others, struck him as a place where people tend to “showcase their passions.”

Sperling’s own passion is in animation. His drawings provide the visual hook of the Instagram book, the heart of the message he’s trying to convey. “If you can get people interested in the animation,” he said, “then they might scroll down and read the actual text.”

– Some things about me: ———- I’m an habitual over-sharer. ———- I wet my bed until the age of 11. ———- My go-to karaoke song is “Jessie’s Girl” by Rick Springfield. ———- I love brilliant ideas, brave work and being the underdog. ———- When I was a student at UCLA, I called about a job listing for marketing and selling condoms. It turns out it was for a different employer and they happened to be looking for a creative intern. The rest is history. ———- I was fortunate to spend years working on a brand like Apple, and then doubly fortunate to help bring Apple’s “Mac vs. PC” television and digital campaign to life (FYI, there are 230 more Mac vs PC ads that never made it to air.) It was declared Campaign of the Decade by Adweek and Top 10 of the Century by AdAge. ———- Currently, I serve as Executive Creative Director at RPA Advertising, working primarily on Honda North America. In the few years I’ve been here I’ve recreated my favorite movie, Ferris Buehler’s Day Off, for the Super Bowl, developed a massive digital campaign to help save the American drive-in movie theater, and worked on too many social media campaigns to mention. Fortunately, Forbes took notice of them in December 2014 and said, “Honda has become one of the most prolific and effective social media practitioners in the auto industry.” ———– I call Los Angeles home. I have a beautiful wife, three amazing kids and two mutts. ———- Thank you RPA Advertising for supporting the launch, and Bill Westbrook and Marsha Rybin for the necessary kick in the pants. And of course thanks to Nik Piscitello for the brilliant illustrations. ———- Twitter: jasonsperling__

A video posted by by Jason Sperling (@lookatmebook) on

The book isn’t finished, even though he’s begun publishing it. Sperling intends to build on it as he goes, incorporating feedback and commentary from readers, consumers and industry leaders. He has already recruited in Pete Favat for a post and is currently in talks with a few others.

“It really becomes a shared conversation on Instagram,” he said. “With most books, you buy them, read them and then put them away. With this one, you’re getting consumers’ perspectives, you’re getting industry perspectives, and even when you’re reading it, you can comment. It’s a dialogue and a shared conversation.”

Sperling added that writing a book seemed like the next obvious step in his career, but he hadn’t given much thought into monetizing it. He hasn’t even written the conclusion yet because he wants that conclusion to comprise the learnings that he takes away from this endeavor.

“Hopefully, someday it turns out to be an actual printed book which has some of the feedback and conversation that it inspired within Instagram.” How analog.