Bowery Poetry, previously known as Bowery Poetry Club, is a non-profit located in lower manhattan. As the name suggests, it is right on Bowery street surrounded by bars, galleries and other event venues. Though they once had the space to themselves, after their 2012 renovation they now share it with Duane Park, a high-end burlesque themed restaurant. The restaurant has the place from Tuesday to Friday and Bowery Poetry Club from Sunday to Monday.
Bowery Poetry is a creative space meant to bring together artists and poets in NYC. The stage is open for all sorts of events that are meant to give poets, writers and songwriters somewhere to share their work and meet like-minded individuals. Bowery Poetry was established in 2002 by Bob Holman (Melnechuk). With a rich history of fresh talents and famous poets, this creative space has been a part of New York City’s rich art scene for almost 20 years.
Poem by @jeff_shepherd_ on Instagram
Old Instagram Aesthetic
One of the first things you will notice about Bowery Poetry Club when you walk in, is how elegant yet welcoming it is as a space. Poets come together to share their work with a friendly audience full of artists and art lovers. When looking at the Instagram of Bowery Poetry, before I came in as their social media manager, they typically posted pictures of people on stage and around the space.
Although the images were great quality, the posts were repetitive. At times a picture of the same person, taken from slightly different angles, would be posted back to back. Other times, the posts would capture a moment where people are having fun in the space. Showing smiling, happy customers is always a good idea. However, it is not enough to keep a brand in the mind of its target audience.
For starters, although there was a consistent theme, there was nothing captivating about the theme chosen.
Secondly, the images were static and the repetition did very little to nothing for the followers. This problem manifested in the declining content engagement.
Finally, the previous method did not augment neither what Bowery Poetry stood for as an organization, nor how Instagram is meant to be used.
Understanding The Brand Identity
According to Marieke de Mooij in Global Marketing and Advertising: Understanding Cultural Paradox, a brand is a “form of communication and entertainment… (used) to differentiate against the competition and to build intangible value in the form of customer goodwill, trust, and loyalty (27).”
In order to create a good social media strategy it is imperative to get an idea of what the brand is, how it operates, the brand’s vision/goals and how that can be conveyed into images that will bring all those attributes to life.
To begin, I decided to look at the space and aimed to make sense of it by looking at it from the angle of what Instagram is meant to be; a platform that gives brands a sense of relatability.
I also asked the Bowery Poetry team for their objective in using Instagram as a part of their social media marketing strategy. From our conversation I gathered they aimed to use it in a way that would attract the attention of future customers for both Bowery Poetry and another platform, called Slam Find, that aims to be like Netflix for poetry performances.
Playfully elegant, attract poets and art lovers of all ages.
Boost brand awareness so that patrons can know of and continue to regularly return to Bowery Poetry and learn about the existence of Slam Find.
With all this in mind, I created a new instagram strategy.
After some more brainstorming, I decided to use an app called Glitche to do visual manipulations to the quotes from the poems performed in the video. The visual manipulation would vary every week, but the idea would stay consistent. I would take one word or sentence that I felt was powerful and do something to highlight it while also creating a stimulating and aesthetically pleasing image. Bowery Poetry aims to be a space that welcomes poets of all ages, in hopes of helping them find and build their poetic, creative voice. I loved this strategy because I felt it was doing everything a good social media strategy should do. The manipulation of the words and inclusion of performance videos made the content visually engaging. I made sure to make the images fun but never too busy because Bowery Poetry’s instagram strategy must reflect their brand identity. Since they are a physical location, their brand is influenced by their space’s interior decor which consists of beautiful drawn on fake columns, dinner style tables with candles, and a beautiful chandelier that all come together to demonstrate playful elegance.
I felt a video would be best for Bowery Poetry because their goal is to attract customers to both Bowery Poetry and another video platform. Since the space invites artists of all ages to come in and share their poetry, I believed it was best to share some of what was happening in house on the platform. However, I did not post full performances, simply 60 second videos. This way, in most cases the follower would never get to hear the entire poem. In doing so, potential customers get an idea of what they might get from the space, while also being kept at the edge of their seat as they are left wanting more due to the unfinished poem. Although this style leaves the follower wanting, it gives enough to keep them engaged and cause them to want to come in to see a real show at Bowery Poetry Club.
Videos related to the aspiration to promote SlamFind a platform dedicated to poetry performances from all over the world.
A changing but consistent aesthetic to the words gives followers a reason to come back to the page to see what is new.
60 second videos gives followers content to digest but leaves them wanting more when the poems are never truly finished, thus giving them a reason to possibly want to go see a performance in person at Bowery Poetry.
This graph does not show consecutive results over the same period of time. The blue line shows how the posts were doing before I took over. This overlap of information aims to give a visual example of how well the new strategy performs in comparison to the old one. None of the image numbers correspond. Rather, it is an abstract labeling of the last 20 images before I began (blue line) and the first 20 images/videos posted after I began (red and yellow).
This graph shows how the Bowery Poetry posts were doing before I took over the social media account (blue) and what happened after (red). As you can see, there was an immediate increase in engagement from the very first post. The videos also did well. One video got about 600 views which I believe might have been a result of the poet self-promoting on their personal account.
This new strategy yielded great results for the Bowery Poetry Instagram engagement. The very first post got over 170 likes versus the usual 20-30. People mentioned their love for the new theme and poets expressed their desire to be featured. Strategies such as this create an open dialogue between the patrons and the business. Thus increasing reliability and relevance to the target audience.
People would sometimes comment about how a performance made them feel. In one case a follower said “Wow, she makes me feel brave to try and perform my own poetry without having to memorize it” in response to a video I posted of a girl reading her poem from her phone. These types of reactions help stimulate the existence of a community around the Bowery Poetry Instagram page. When followers comment on an account’s content, Instagram counts this as good engagement, thus making it more likely for them to put your content at the top of your followers feed which in turn will continue to boost your accounts engagement. This strategy was successful because it provided the results of a good social media strategy. The more your community engages with your content, the more they like it, the more they start to like the company and what it stands for, therefore making them more likely to continue to stay in contact and participate with what your brand does on and off the platform.
At times engagement would drop and in most cases I anticipated when it would happen. I found that the main reason why a post might not do well was usually because the performance or quote chosen were simply not that interesting. I sometimes had to post these anyway because of lack of content due to the limited resources I had. I wanted to stay as consistent as possible with the posts since the idea relied on a new image manipulation theme every week.
Although this graph shows a clear improvement when I began managing the social media content there are moments where the engagement would show a clear decline. These moments are sometimes for clear reasons such as an uninteresting image that I needed to be posted because I believe consistency is very important when creating a new strategy. Other times, the reason would be due to an awkward post time that would snowball into the post being shown to less followers and overall gaining less engagement as result of the Instagram algorithm.
These problems arose as a result of the fact that I produced and implemented the social media strategies alone. Social Media Management is an inexpensive but equally challenging and taxing marketing strategy. Therefore, it is best to have a small team or someone who is able to make it their full time job. At the time of this research I was building Enithingiwant/wear/write/make while also being a full time student alongside doing social media management for two accounts simultaneously.
Moving forward on future projects, inconsistencies that might hurt the engagement of a post would be avoided because I would likely have a small team or individual at your company that I could train to do this as easily, consistently, and efficiently as possible. I will introduce the individual or team members to applications that can be used to improve the overall efficiency of your new social media strategy.