5 Lessons Copywriters Can Learn from… Instagram

Yes, you heard it right – Instagram! What does a photo sharing network have to do with writing? Well, I’d say they have more in common than you could imagine. Moreover, I strongly believe that Instagram cannot be ignored by any creative person, be it a copywriter, a musician, or a web developer. Here are at least five lessons that I’ve learned during my very first days on Instagram and that I’m sure will work for you too.

1. You’re better than you think you are

I’m not a photographer. Starting a feed on Instagram I was looking for a way to organize my iPhone snapshots in a visually appealing diary that I would look through on the way to the office. I certainly did not expect my posts to get any likes, but to my surprise, they did! I’m in no way an Instagram celebrity now, but I’m sure that with certain effort I could be one. In fact, anyone can be a popular person on Instagram, no matter whether you are a pro photographer or simply enjoy capturing your life with your pocket camera. Instagramers are an extremely friendly crowd eager to support and respond to your content at the first opportunity. Appreciation of other people is a powerful motivation for any human living in a society, not to mention those creatively inclined peeps writers belong to.

2. Beauty is everywhere

You just need to look closer to see it. I know this sounds a cliche, but quoting a line from a very fun yet very naughty TV show, “Cliches is cliches for a reason, because the f’’’’ work!”. You know, I live in a small city that is not rich in beautiful places and happy faces at all. To be honest, I think that many top users on Instagram would not reach that level of popularity if their subjects were only limited to my city. ‘Cause concrete suburbs are not as easy as Provence meadows or Streets of NYC, you know. And that was a challenge I’ve accepted. Now I make at least 10 shots in my daily route from home to the office and back. I just look closer at things and people in the streets trying to see beauty in ordinary. Sometimes this process results in a new instagram, but more importantly, it results in a broader vision and fresh thinking, which helps me a lot in my social community management and writing work.

3. Focus can make it or break it

This statement is pretty much obvious as well, but so many writers forget about it when writing product descriptions, articles, sales letters, or blog posts. This is what I often forgot about too. Now that I use Instagram, I see how many pictures didn’t make it to my public feed because I failed to adjust focus in them. Think how a wrong thing put in focus can ruin your copy. Highlighting the product’s features instead of benefits it delivers may result in page dropout, and a headline that does not give a hint at what the article is about will probably never be clicked. Just like with my snapshots, whether I put the right things in focus (by right I mean those that provide value to the reader), is something that I think about when working on my every blog post, article, and even tweet.

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4. Crop matters

Take a look at the instagrams below:

This is how cropping works – it basically enables you to influence the overall composition by cutting off unwanted subject. Instagram square framing has literally turned a lot of my accidental snapshots into something closer to photography (I won’t lie and say that a mobile app is all you need to all yourself a photographer, it isn’t). Crop is a fantastic tool in terms of writing as well. Manipulating the length of your copy you can accentuate subject matter even if initially it was out of focus. Besides, cropping helps to increase the value-per-word ratio, which is critically important for effective web copy. Of course, there’s not “Crop” button in any text editor, but think such things as the most popular screen resolution used by the visitors to your client’s website, or the 155-character limit for meta description of the web page you need to write.

5. Less is more

The dark side of any popular social network is, of course, spam. On Instagram spam assumed the aspect of “ghost following”. Just like mass followers on Twitter, ghost instagramers will follow you but never provide any quality content or feedback on your posts. Many people are tempted to have a large follower base and they follow and auto-follow back everyone. This way even mediocre pictures can become pop and appear on IG front page, which probably make their submitters think they are not so mediocre. It’s nothing but self-deception and I try to avoid it at all costs, both in my IG feed and work. Writing a one-size-fits-all article or giving away an iPad in exchange for commenting your blog post, you collect ghost followers that will eventually leave you with nothing. Instead, rely on targeting and specificity in your writing and you will build audience that may grow slower but be ten times more effective in the long term perspective.

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You don’t necessarily need to be keen on photography in order to love Instagram. This simple application trains your creative skills and proves five simple truths writers often forget. And what non-writing interests do you have? How do they help you in your work? Share your experience in the comments!

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