So, you have your life’s work, the embodiment of your soul–your self-published collection of poetry–and you’re ready to bestow it upon the world. You know that this collection will inspire and change lives…but what you don’t know is how to get it into the hands of people who NEED your work. This is where social media comes in.
Aside from being a great platform to share duck-face selfies and pictures of your beloved furry friend, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are places where people congregate and where they consume content. So why can’t that content be yours?
Let’s talk brass tacks on how you can start using social media to market your poetry STAT.
First, if you haven’t yet set up social media profiles for these sites, you’ll want to do that first. You can use your personal profiles to promote your work to your existing network, but we highly recommend creating professional business profiles.
Here’s a quick how-to on setting up your business Facebook profile:
Select the Business option on the Create a Page section.
Type in your name (or the name of your business) and select your business category.
Add your logo and cover photos.
This should make it clear who you are and what your business is!
Your profile photo will show as a circle.
According to Hootsuite, Facebook profile pictures display at 170 x 170 pixels on desktop and 128 x 128 pixels on mobile, and the cover image will display at 820 x 312 pixels on desktop or 640 x 360 pixels on mobile.
Create your username (aka, your vanity URL).
We recommend going super simple and memorable.
Add your profile details:
- Description – This is a short description that shows up in search results and explains who you are and what you do.
- Categories – If you want to add additional business categories, this is the place to do it.
- Contact – Add all of your contact information.
- Location – This is optional, but if you want people to know where you’re located, add it here.
- Hours – Again, this is optional and may not apply for your poetry work, but it can be added.
Now you’re ready to start creating content!
This helps separate the professional from the personal and allows you to hone in on a clear message specific to your poetry (not that people on your professional profiles don’t want to see the twelfth photo of your cat, Fluffy). Make sure you use a clear photo that showcases who you are, and spend time filling in information on your profile, including your contact information, website, and any other platforms where people can check out your work!
Okay, so now you have your profiles ready to go. What’s next?
Create community and sales will follow
The number one thing to remember when marketing your poetry is that it’s all about growing an audience in a way that creates community. A little louder for those in the back of the room–we’re creating community, y’all!
Poetry is about sharing moments, being vulnerable, and evoking emotion. This is the perfect framework for creating a community where people will want to return, not only read your work, but also to share their own experiences with others in the comments. If you’re looking for a perfect example of leveraging social media to create community and gain exposure, look no further than Rupi Kaur.
Kaur, a renowned and well-known poet, grew her audience and subsequent success in part by being active on social media and creating a community her readers could come back to. She regularly posts her work on social media and shares what’s on her mind, insight into her process, and also…drumroll… when she’s releasing a new collection or selling her products! Just recently, she launched her latest book, Homebody, and an accompanying clothing and accessories line, and let me tell you, she was sold out in MINUTES (trust me, we tried to get our hands on some).
And Kaur isn’t the only one. There are plenty of new up-and-coming poets (just like you!) who have used social media to establish themselves. Check out this Vogue article about the rise of Instagram-based poets that you need to watch as you grow your community and your social media following.
Keep it consistent
As with most things in life, results only come when you’re consistent and intentional. Whether you’re posting an image of your work, a lengthy text post about your process, or sharing an interesting video, intentionality is key. As you ease into this, you may struggle to decide when or what to post, but just know that is okay. Posting two or three times a week is better than not at all.
What we recommend is figuring out an almost formulaic blend of content and scheduling it in advance. It takes some time to try different types of content to find what resonates best with your audience, and when you’re just starting out, you may have little to no engagement (more on how to fix that later!), but it’s so important to not give up and to keep at it. There are numerous examples of content calendars out there, and looking at those can help you determine what mix you want to use for your own content.
We recommend batching a few weeks to a month ahead of time (and of course if something pops up, you can always modify the planned content or post additional content), but starting with even a week’s worth of content is excellent progress. Try utilizing tools like Trello–or if you’re old-school, Microsoft Excel–and type your caption, any hashtags or links you want to incorporate, a link or note about what graphic you want to use, and the date and time you want to post it. Look through your plan and make sure you incorporate at least one mention of your work and how to access ( i.e., buy) it, but make sure that’s not the only content you’re posting. Again, it’s about creating community rather than just pelting your audience with pitches to buy your book.
Once you’ve curated your content, now it’s time to schedule! There are plenty of free sites out there for scheduling your content. Hootsuite is one excellent resource, and for Instagram we recommend using the Later platform. Metricool is also another great option. These sites allow you to put in your content, images, links, and any tagging; schedule the time you want the post to go live; and voila, it’s done! You might be wondering, but when do I set my content to post? That’s an excellent question.
There are widely recommended time windows for posting content on each social media platform (check it out!), but these aren’t foolproof. One of Metricool’s awesome features is that it looks at the engagement on your page and identifies blocks of time when you’re likely to get the best results, customized to your audience. What we recommend is playing around with your post times–try testing out early morning posts, late-night posts, and everything in between. This helps you see what works for your audience, and it allows Metricool to collect data insights that can guide your timing and scheduling as you move forward.
Create impactful visuals
Here we have a bit of a chicken or the egg situation. We just went over the importance of consistency and how to schedule content to begin cultivating and growing your audience, but let’s backtrack a tinyyyyy bit and talk more about what to post. We already discussed the importance of having a good mix of content types for your audience, but one of the key types you’ll want are visual representations of your poems.
In fact, 32% of marketers say that images are the most important content for their business to share on social media. Sure, you could type some of your poems and share them as a text-based post, but if you want to create impact and to increase the likelihood that your audience will share your work on their own profiles (i.e., free exposure!), then you’re better served creating a visual version of your work.
If you’re already graphically inclined, then you may already have Adobe Creative Cloud products like Illustrator and Photoshop, which work for making graphics. But if this is a growth area for you, using a platform like Canva is an easy and free(!) way to make your poems come to life on the screen.
Remember–keep it simple! We’re looking for the beauty in simplicity. You want to put your words in a clear and easy-to-read font, incorporate any visuals that represent your work (if you have hand-drawn elements, you can scan or recreate and add them), and be sure to include your name for attribution. Some creatives add in a watermark to ensure their work is attributed, so consider including this as well.
And make sure they’re sized correctly! Social media platforms have different sizing requirements, and while it may sound tedious, it’s worthwhile to create graphics according to each platform’s sizing requirements. Here’s an ultimate guide for social media image sizes. (Remember, these sizes do change periodically, so you’ll need to stay on top of that!)
Now get out there and grow that audience
We’ll stress again that it’s going to take time, but carpe diem the heck out of expanding your reach on social media to start getting your work out there. Over time, as your images and work are shared with the masses, you’ll see followers come in, but outside of waiting it out or paying for targeted ads (more on that in another post!), there are things you can do to grow your following.
When it comes to Facebook, the top thing you can do to grow your audience for free is to be active in like-minded Facebook communities. There are Facebook groups for pretty much every hobby or interest known to man, with several devoted to poets or poetry enthusiasts just like you. Regularly check in on these groups and comment! Depending on the group’s rules, there will be plenty of opportunities to share your work, to provide criticism or feedback for other posters’ content, and to use these opportunities to get eyes on your work and social media profiles. The key is please, please, please don’t be spammy. We beg of you.
Going onto every thread in these groups and sending links to your platforms or your poetry collection for purchase will not only likely turn people off from your work, but it could also get you removed from these groups. It’s essential that you are tactful and provide value to people in these threads, offering your advice, relating and sharing your experiences, and in turn, providing your work as a resource that will benefit their lives and work. Setting yourself up as a trusted resource and expert will go a long way in generating enthusiasm and attention for your work.
Check out some of these poetry groups you can join:
For Instagram, growing your audience is slightly more passive. There aren’t groups to interact with, but there are still plenty of opportunities. And because the platform is geared toward visual media, those aforementioned graphics will come in handy. To grow your Instagram community, using appropriate hashtags is crucial. Hashtags are the mechanism on the app for finding content on a specific topic, and if used correctly, they can be used to catch the attention of your target audience. Brainstorm hashtags that you feel align with your work, and don’t forget to include ones like #poetry and #poetrycollection.
Hashtagify is one resource we recommend for researching hashtags to see if they are regularly used. In addition to telling you their popularity and who they’re used by, the site will also generate related hashtags for you to use. The general rule is to stick to less than 15 hashtags per post, so use them intentionally.
Follow these steps and use these tools, you’ll be well on your way to establishing your work on social media and growing a community that will love and share your work. By building a community online, you’ll not only be able to spread the love of poetry with others (and who doesn’t want that!?), but you’ll also create a following that wants to see your work and purchase your self-published poetry collection.
Another platform you should use to grow your audience is Twitter. Like Instagram, it’s a bit more passive than Facebook because there aren’t as many ways to engage directly with your target audience.
That is not to say you shouldn’t use images! Remember those handy images we recommended making? Use them here! Be sure to look at this site for social media image sizes and resize your image accordingly.
For a lot of long-form writers, Twitter poses some challenges because posts on the platform are limited to 280 characters, but as a poet, you’re an expert at condensing impactful messages into a smaller character count. If you use graphics as part of your posts, you can also skirt around the word count by shortening your text content and incorporating your message in the image.
As you promote your poetry and build your audience on Twitter, you’re going to want to point the audience to your self-published poetry collection, but links have a lot of text characters. A great workaround for this is Bit.ly! This free website condenses your links down into a link with far fewer characters — perfect for Twitter and other social media sites. You don’t need to make an account (who needs yet another login and password to keep track of, right?) but if you do make a free account, the site offers analytics that show you how many people have clicked on the link and where the click came from (social media, direct search, email, etc.).
Data is your friend–use it!
When it comes to promoting your poetry, data is always a useful tool: it helps you see what is working, as well as the impact you’re having, and can guide you on what platforms are working best for you. You’ll want to invest time and effort into multiple platforms in the beginning, but if you find your sweet spot on Facebook or Twitter, or any of these other sites, allocating additional time and attention to the places where you’re getting traction is a must.
Along with keeping that character count low, it’s crucial that you understand that hashtags are king on Twitter. Again, much like Instagram, hashtags are a way that users find content that they’re interested in, and if you use the right hashtags, you can get more eyes on your content and, in turn, more sales. Your work is meant to be seen by the world, so do what you can to help it get to as many people as possible.
You can use the same Hashtagify website we mentioned above to research top hashtags for poetry, and you can use a lot of the same ones you use on Instagram. The main difference is that while Instagram doesn’t have a set character count, Twitter does, so you’ll need to be judicious in your use of hashtags and factor them into your message. They’ll vary slightly based on your style and subject matter, but be sure to include more obvious hashtags like #poetry and #poem.
Sharing is caring–engage to get traction
Engagement is key. Following like-minded poets and poetry-related accounts, resharing their content, and offering insight in the comment section on others’ posts will help establish your presence and will draw followers to you.
One platform that has become a haven for creatives, including poets, is Tumblr. The long-time blogging and content-sharing hybrid is similar to Instagram in that it emphasizes visual elements in the content you share but also allows for more written content and engagement. Yet again, you can use the graphics you made for other social media sites on this platform.
Well-known poet Juansen Dizon really found his home on Tumblr and began to grow his following on the site. (He’s still an active user—check him out!) As you’ll see from Dizon’s Tumblr page, he posts a combination of his work, promotional content for his poetry collections, quotes (both text and visual), memes, and other images that express how he feels.
Tumblr is a great place to share your creative process with the world and to be authentic about who you are as a poet. You’ll want to tailor your content to reflect the more humorous and lifestyle-oriented tone of the platform. And content mix is really key on this platform to build a following and a community.
Before you hit publish/send/post…
On Tumblr, in addition to your visual elements, don’t be afraid to share your full poems in written form or to share longer diatribes about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through as you work on your craft. The platform is geared toward this type of sharing.
Remember, though, if you post a full poem online, it will be considered “published,” so you’ll want to make sure that if you do decide to send your poem out that you’re not submitting previously published poems to magazines or journals that do not accept these types of poems. If you have questions about the submission process, you can check out our submission strategies course here.
The site has users with a variety of interests and passions, but it is widely used by avid readers, writers, and librarians, so speak to your audience in a way you’d want to be spoken to (i.e., “Talk nerdy to me!”). Major publications and publishing houses are also active on Tumblr. Love the way one of the illustrations looks in your poetry collection? Snap a photo of the book on a desk and show it off!
It’s all about the keywords
But when it comes to sharing your content and creating community, Tumblr is different from platforms like Instagram and Twitter because the site doesn’t use hashtags in the same way (i.e., as a means of discovering content related to a specific subject). The site does use keywords and tags, and you’re free to incorporate hashtags into your content so that when a person is looking for content or accounts, they can follow and type in words like “poetry” or “love poem” and find you on other platforms. This is why it’s important to not only post consistently but also to incorporate keywords that will help Tumblr users see your content. If you’re posting a quote or your poem, consider adding an introduction that includes keywords relevant to you, and hyperlink out when appropriate.
For example, you might include one poem from your self-published poetry collection with an introduction about the collection and what the poem means to you, as well as a link to your website, where readers can learn more or purchase your work. You can also reshare other accounts, so look at other big accounts you’d like to emulate that have a strong following and share and interact with their content. Check out some of these Tumblr poetry accounts.
Believe it or not, Reddit is more than a breeding ground for memes and trolls. The site was developed with the intention of creating communities for people with a variety of interests, where they could come together and share their love for a favorite show, hobby, or craft. Reddit looks like an old fashioned forum in a lot of ways, and people from around the world use it to share their love of literature and poetry. People congregate in areas of the site, called subreddits, that are focused on a particular topic.
Depending on the rules created by the admins, there are several ways to share content–whether it’s a text post, an image, or a hyperlink to a resource (like your website!). Some subreddits have rules against blatant self-promotion, so make sure you’re adding value and engaging in the community, versus immediately going for the hard sell. Always read the rules before posting! Some subreddits have specific days of the week or circumstances when you can promote your collection for sale, so it’s important to find out when you can capitalize on those opportunities.
If you’re a current Redditor who uses their account for personal interests and sharing, we recommend making an account specifically for sharing your poetry.
Then you’ll want to become a member of several poetry-related subreddits–here are some popular options:
- r/OCPoetry — This is a place to share your own original content.
- r/PoetryCritics — This is a community where you can develop your craft and solicit critiques of your work.
- r/Poetry — This is geared toward published works of poetry and the general discussion of poems.
To grow your community on Reddit as a means to promote your work, engage often in the threads posted by other members. Maybe it’s a newbie poet who’s looking for a critique of their work, or maybe it’s a passionate discussion about whether or not haikus are too short to count as real poems (we kid). Get your voice out there as an authoritative expert on poetry, and when relevant, point other users to your work as an example. Over time, you’ll become well acquainted with other Redditors in these communities, and this will generate interest in your work.
Don’t be shy about posting your own work. Again, follow all subreddit rules, but put yourself and your work into the spotlight and use that as a means to gain traction for your self-published poetry collection. For example, if you share one of your poems, link it out to your website, so that when people look at your thread, they have direct access to your information, and if they’re a fan of your work, they can easily make a purchase.
Stay tuned for our next marketing post on Monday. Until then, go do your homework and get your accounts set up!