When I was a freshman I was asked to perform an original poem on a fundraiser for a local museum. After the performance, I was delighted and amazed at the reception of the audience when I recited. I didn’t feel ready to look for publication in literary magazines (and didn’t know much about publishing either) and wanted my poems to reach a wider audience. A solution quickly became clear to me: Instagram poetry. While I stopped posting my poems on Instagram because my relationship and purpose for poem writing changed, I was collecting tips on how to post poems on Instagram.
From using a poem format app to finding the best hashtags, here are seven tips for posting poems on Instagram.
1. Think about your target audience and the purpose of the platform
As you share your writing, keep in mind that your work is accessible to both your grandmother (or don’t even dare to consider the option if your content is of the steamy kind) and potential publishers.
Visibility can be a nice thing: you no longer have to just send new poems to your social circle or wait for a reaction from followers on your private social media accounts. Suddenly everyone can read your words. Authors like Rupi Kaur have used Instagram to their advantage by garnering a large and loyal following on social media.
However, it is also important to know that some literary journals, magazines, and other publications prefer to accept submissions of poems that have not been previously published. Instagram sometimes, but not always, counts as a prior post. (For more information on literary magazines versus Instagram, see here.)
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2. Consider the length of the poem and the formatting, which is easy on the eyes
So your pen skills are undeniable, but are you picking the right poems to share? It is helpful to choose poems that will naturally resonate with others, but the length of the poem is also a factor.
Because most people don’t want to spend days and days reading your poem – no matter how stunning – choose wisely. Either an excerpt from a longer poem or a short poem itself is the way to go. Then, keep the text large enough that it doesn’t need to be enlarged for those reading on their phones. The carousel feature in Instagram is especially handy for sharing multiple verses without compromising readability.
3. Establish a consistent aesthetic (and use a handy app)
As you’ve probably noticed, poets make certain aesthetic choices on Instagram. Find out what is attractive and realistic to you. Do you have a nice handwriting? Does typewritten text call you and do you have access to a typewriter? Do your eyes catch stanzas presented on a plain background? Are props a yes or a no? Many poets even alternate between a poem in a picture or combine wordless pictures with writing the poem in the caption. (Check out some of Book Riot’s favorite Instagram poets here for inspiration.)
Whatever stimulates your imagination, choose a particular look and then stick with it with some consistency. When your followers come across one of your posts on their feed, they want them to recognize their favorite poet. For example, with a typical scrap paper style with typewritten poetry, I can always tell at a glance that a post belongs to Tyler Knott Gregson.
For those who don’t want to write or print their poems, the Canva app makes the styling process painless. The app is free – with the exception of selected images / graphics that require paid membership – and includes templates, free photos, and fun illustrations. The desktop version is particularly easy to use.
4. Use the many tools available
In addition to using Canva to format your posts, there are many helpful tools that you can use to figure out how to get your poems out to the widest possible audience.
Keep an eye on sources like Later that are posting updates to the Instagram algorithm so you know the most efficient way to navigate the platform. If you want to post frequently but don’t have infinite time on your phone, use a posting tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts.
One tool within Instagram that can prove extremely helpful is hashtagging. Hashtags are a great way for readers to find your content: to find out what’s trending or what’s new in the world, I often search the relevant hashtags of a particular city or genre of books. The same applies to the discovery of poetry. Use a website that, like the best hashtags, crawls the most popular hashtags for a particular social media platform and displays a list.
5. Interact with your #PoetryCommunity
When I gathered the courage to write my poetry report, I turned to other poets whom I admired. I found encouragement to ask them – especially the poet Alexa Johansen – questions, find inspiration in their craft, and learn more about their stories over time. I felt part of a virtual community of supportive artists.
My advice is to find other poets and follow them and give them the likes, shares, and comments they deserve. Let them know you are listening and share the poems that really speak to you.
On the flip side, unlike when a poem is printed in a magazine, your readers can comment and interact with you directly. It is so encouraging to see that others are resonating with your dreams and visions. Ask questions in your captions and interact with those who leave comments to build camaraderie with your followers.
6. Credit your work to keep it safe
As my artist mother always said: “Sign your work!” Have you ever seen a newly released video or read a quote that asked for more? Maybe you’re a big fan of the work, or you want to know what happened next to the singer or writer. It really throws a wrench into the plan when whoever has reposted didn’t credit the artist and you have no choice but to switch to internet stalking mode.
You also don’t want others to take your work for theirs (although the possibility of posting something on the internet opens up that possibility). Please, with all that is sacred, at least protect your work by marking it as yours! Leave your handle, initials, or name anywhere in the picture. Getting your work recognized can be as simple as signing your work like the poet Lang Leav.
7. Revel in the fact that you share your art
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the midst of the hustle and bustle of formatting your poems and responding to your followers. Creating and sharing art is not an easy task. Make sure you enjoy making this world a brighter and more beautiful place.
After reading all about posting poetry on Instagram, but still looking for more guidance, are you ready to get started? Check out what I learned on Bookstagram in 6 months.