Updated: Sep 22
Photo credit: Unslpash
Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users on the app. This makes it an excellent place for poets to reach a larger audience. Rupi Kaur was one of the first poets to grow a large following on the app, but now many other poets are following in her footsteps.
While the poetry niche has more competition than usual, many traditional publishers ask you for your social media handles. One of the added measures of whether a poet will be successful for a publisher is if they already have an established following and can market themselves.
So whether you're trying to get published or want to share your art with the world, you'll need some strategies to grow your following. As someone with experience in marketing, I followed these rules and grew my own Instagram account from 100 to 1,000 followers in about four months. As of September 2022, I'm currently at 3,000 followers, and I started in February.
Find an Aesthetic
Since Instagram is mainly a photo and video app, you'll need to turn your poems into photos. Whether taking a screenshot of your iPhone app or putting your poem against a nature background, you'll need to upload an image.
However, some of the best poems on the app do better when you have a specific aesthetic for your brand. Take care to choose the right one because people will start to associate that aesthetic with your poems.
Find out what your aesthetic is. Do you have good handwriting? Do you have a vintage typewriter? Do you want to create them on natural backgrounds in Canva? Do you want to include minimalist doodles with your poems? If you need more inspiration, browse Instagram to read other poets, or read some poetry book recommendations.
When you find something that suits your poetry, stick with it and be consistent.
Develop a Hashtag Strategy
While hashtags aren't as crucial to Instagram as they used to be, you should still be using them in your posts. Not only can this help people find your posts, but it can also tell the algorithm what your post is about. For example, if you use #poetry, the algorithm will guess that you're posting poetry and suggest your post to more people who like poetry on Instagram.
You can include up to thirty hashtags in your post, and you should try and use all of them. However, some accounts only use around ten to avoid being less spammy. But the more hashtags you use, the more chance you have of people finding your account and posts.
When using hashtags, try not to worry about them too much. In general, you should make sure that you're using relevant hashtags.
Put your hashtags at the end of your caption. You may even want to use periods or spaces to expand the comment so that they don't show up in people's feeds. Some poets also put their hashtags as the first comment to keep their captions clean. You should experiment with different methods and hashtags to see what works best for you and your audience.
Interact With Other Poets
Instagram is a social media platform, so it's essential to be social. You need to engage with other poets and your readers to build a community around your account. People want to get to know the poet behind the poem.
If someone comments on your post, they are hoping you interact with them. They took time out of their day to read your poem and then let you know what they think. As a poet, that's one of the best outcomes. At the very least, you should comment and thank them for their compliment and for reading it.
Take the time to post interactive stories, share other poets' work, join poetry groups, and comment on other poets' work.
Find Your Target Audience
When you're sharing your poetry, you'll need to have a public account so that anyone can find it. Visibility can be beautiful, but anyone can read your words. While it can sound scary, you’ll find many readers who resonate with your work. You don’t have to only share your poems with your inner social circle.
However, while you might want anyone to read your poetry, your account will do better if you know who your ideal reader is. For example, if you’re a middle-aged parent writing about your children, you might want to target parents who are in their thirties.
If you’re a teenager writing about a teenage fling and heartbreak, targeting a younger demographic might be more important. You can’t cater to everyone, and that’s okay. But defining who your audience is will help you niche down while also reaching the right audience.
Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
The Instagram platform is constantly changing, and you need to be open to experimenting and trying new things. What works for one poet might not work for you. For example, if you usually post your poems once a day, you might want to try posting twice a day. Or once every other day.
It will take a while to figure out what works for your account. Keep in mind that even when you find a strategy that works, Instagram is constantly updating its platform, so you'll want to stay on top of the updates and adjust your strategy.
However, you can also experiment with the format of your poems. If posting them on a background with photography doesn't work, try using doodles! You may also want to try posting different text posts, stories, videos, live videos, and reels.
Your account is a place for you to share your writing with avid poetry readers. You should work on promoting yourself, but keep in mind that you won't get thousands of followers overnight.
Users are also more likely to follow you if you're authentic. Followers will be able to tell if you're being fake, and they won't want to follow you. They want to connect with the author and feel like the author is just as excited as you are to read your work.
It can be a challenging road to grow your poetry account on Instagram, even when you feel like you're not seeing any quick process. But at the end of the day, you're sharing the writing that you're proud of, and eventually, all that work will pay off.
Follow my journey on Instagram @alyssa_harmon_.
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