Are you writing beautiful poems, posting them on Instagram, and not seeing your page grow the way you hoped? No worries. It’s not you—it’s the algorithm. Instagram’s algorithm used to be different, and many well-known poets who share their work on the multimedia platform are concerned about how the evolving algorithm affects their audience. Read on for strategies to adapt to the new algorithm, so your page can flourish in 2020.
PROMOTE YOUR POSTS
Instagram’s algorithm change is a controversial topic in the poetry community. Before, users would see a chronological feed: They would scroll and view the latest posts from poets they loved based on when they last posted. But since 2016, the algorithm changes have benefited Instagram more than its creators. Poet Nikita Gill brought attention to this issue in an interview with Financial Times: “Gill thinks that measures the Facebook-owned platform has introduced to boost its own commercial income are cutting her—and fellow poets—off from the fan base they worked hard to create.” Nikita says that poets must pay Instagram in order to boost their posts.
Other well-known Instagram poets have complained about their readership dropping: “Only a small percent of my followers see my posts now,” says poet Amanda Lovelace. Instagram’s defense to their algorithm change was that they are trying to prioritize the posts for better user experience: “Your feed is personalized to you and evolves over time based on how you use Instagram.” Whether or not Instagram is benefitting from the change, the fact of the matter is that in order to reach a wider audience on Instagram, you have to pay to promote your posts. A cheaper alternative is to ask your followers to turn on their notifications for your posts.
USE INSTAGRAM STORIES AND INSTAGRAM LIVE
If you don’t have extra money to spend on promoted posts, you can bypass the algorithm by alerting your followers you have a new post through Instagram Stories. That way your followers are sure to see your work. Stories are Instagram’s version of Snapchat, and it’s a really popular feature right now.
You can also experiment with Instagram Live when you have an important announcement to make such as your book being published or if you win an award. Instagram Live can also be a great way to interact in real-time with your followers: It basically serves the function of a chat room, and you can invite anyone you want into your Live session. Followers are also alerted that you are live as your picture will become highlighted and featured which increases attention to your page.
COMMENT, LIKE, AND FOLLOW
Another way to grow your page is to comment on the posts of poets whose work you love. By commenting, you not only engage with a poetry community, but you also bring attention to your work. Additionally, you become known to the poet whose work you commented on as they will most likely appreciate your support through a like or follow. This same technique applies to liking posts and following poets who follow you.
There is a ripple effect that happens when you collaborate with a poet or artist whose work you admire. By collaborating, you use video, art, music, and other multimedia elements in your posts. You meet new artists who can eventually become your friends, and as a bonus, the followers of your new friend might become part of your audience.
The key to growing your Instagram page is to be perseverant, patient, and persistent. By posting daily and being consistent, the algorithm recognizes you are an avid and engaged user of their site, and your posts will reach more readers. A terrific example of this strategy is the page of Tyler Knott Gregson. Instead of seeing his posts as a chore, Tyler sees writing a poem every day as a meditation. The only thing he doesn’t like is the actual mechanical process of having to input hashtags and scan his poems, but posting on Instagram keeps him writing every day. During his many years on Instagram, Tyler hasn’t missed a single post.
If you’re like me, and you don’t enjoy posting every day because you want to limit your time on social media, you can still set a goal of posting once a week. Using this strategy, I keep my page active and still engage with my followers, but it’s not as time-consuming. However, if your goal is to grow your page quickly then you definitely have to post once a day.
EXPERIMENT WITH HASHTAGS
There are many hashtags you can use on Instagram such as #instapoet and #instapoetry and many articles that will keep you attuned to what’s current, but I found that the best strategy is to check the hashtags that your favorite poets are using and then experiment with seeing the results they bring you.
You can check the results on your Instagram page by checking your insights and analytics, but that option is only available for business pages or creator accounts. If you switch to one of these accounts, Instagram will show valuable information about your audience such as what days and hours are best to post based on when your audience most checks the app. You can also find out your top locations and the age range of your followers among many other features.
Publishing can easily become frustrating if you are only focused on numbers and results, but enjoying creating your art is the most important thing. It’s healthy to want to grow your Instagram audience and page, but it’s not the main reason to share your work. So have fun and be playful with your page. Remember it’s not about the destination; it really is all about the poetic journey.