Hashtags and filters. Likes, comments, and #ThrowbackThursday—#tbt if you’re hip and with it. This is the argot of Instagram, and chances are, if you’re a millennial (and even if you’re not—plenty of parents and even grandparents have accounts on IG), you’re familiar with the terms and jargons and trends that exist on this social media platform.
But outside of the occasional selfie or sunset picture, what is Instagram really good for? Well, you might be hesitant to believe me, but it’s a great place to be a writer.
I recently created an Instagram account, under a pseudonym, where I post short bits of things I write. Bits of prose, short poems, and yes, even a guilty haiku or two. And to be entirely honest, I’ve fallen in love with the people I’ve met through the platform.
I figured I’d never get that much attention on Instagram as a writer, there are tons and tons of people who post their poetry and prose on their profiles every single day, often every few hours or so. So what would make people give a shit about mine?
The answer is that these writers of Instagram are just genuinely happy to read and comment on other people’s work. And depending on what time you post your work, what hashtags you employ, and some other intangible factors, you might end up getting quite a bit of reception (I posted a short haiku, reluctantly, right before bed and woke up to over a thousand likes—as an ego-driven writer, this was very nice to see).
I’ve only had my account for about a month now, but I’ve met some very inspirational and helpful writers. We exchange contact information, wisdom about writing, what we’re reading, life stories—you name it—despite the fact that we’re complete strangers from different states or even different hemispheres.
I’ve also found that it keeps me writing. I write little things on napkins to post on my page. I scribble poetry on the back of receipts, even on the back of my hand if I have to. It’s new and exciting and I find myself enjoying writing these little blurbs that exist entirely independently of my main projects.
Finally, from a dry and utilitarian viewpoint, it’s a good way to build a following. In a world where writers have to be shameless and self-promoting, it is important not to rule anything out. A lot of the most prominent Instagram writers have thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of followers. It’s a no-brainer. If you ever have a book to promote, an Instagram page with a huge following is a perfect place to do it.
But at the simplest and most honest level, we write to be read. Posting to Instagram and slapping a #poetry in the caption is a good way to get people looking at your work. It’s a nice way to know that eyes other than yours will ever look upon your written words.