Why Words Still Matter in an Instagram World

Ashlyn is a calligrapher and copywriter for creatives, helping simplify storytelling for creative women. She has helped clients like Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A, Orkin, and Woodruff Arts Center tell their stories at a full-service PR  firm — and then worked as publicist branding for celebrity chef Ford Fry. When not writing about herself in third person, she’s usually trying to scratch the ink off her fingernails or grabbing margs and tacos with her husband. Read on to learn why Ashlyn is so passionate about helping YOU tell YOUR story!

why words matter in an instagram world belong magazine blog

I’m not naive enough to believe that every generation hasn’t thought in such sweeping generalizations of themselves. But our generation, as millennials, I truly believe we sit at a unique place when it comes to media: we grew up on Crayola and bedtime stories, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Ramona Quimby, but then came Oregon Trail, AOL Instant Messenger, and chat rooms before we really even mastered Clinique lipgloss application. Learning to diagram sentences with ballpoint pen pressed into college-ruled notebook paper in high school English was juxtapositioned with breaking all those same rules with short texts and wall posts.

Strong imagery matters greatly to our generation of bloggers and creatives. Pristine, charming little squares on our feed are like magazine pages of which we each are our own elected editor-in-chief.

But I want to argue the reasons why words still matter in our Instagram world. Words hold hefty weight simply because story still matters. And story, while yes, it’s strong on illustration alone, it also needs fleshing out with prose and adjectives, metaphor and quip.

I love how it’s woven in us to gravitate toward storytelling. Our brains are wired to connect soul to soul when there’s a tale woven in the mix.

Solid copy and wordsmithery -- when you look at them through the lens of storytelling -- only reinforce your website, Instagram feed, about page, and more. Here are three reasons why sharp copy and writing words that pack punch matter.

Storytelling is a few thousand year old communications “best practice.”

Storytelling is so betwixt into the fibers of our humanity that the practice traces to our species predating farming and agricultural practice. In fact, storytelling is so innate,that you likely spend 30% of your day daydreaming (not counting pillow-rested, silk eye-mask dreams!). Statistically, a mind viewing a film or catching up on Netflix rarely daydreams: the screen does it for you.

Those facts fascinate me. A third of my day, my brain’s wheels churn to tell a tale. I heard somewhere that’s a survival tactic, and it makes sense: I can plan for what’s going to happen when my mind jumps out of the present.

The best TED speakers and webinar hosts, enthralling authors, Bible teachers, and even some of my favorite girlfriends or family members earned their stripes in my book in part due to their knack for weaving words and truth into a tale or story. A few minutes around those girlfriends, and I’m full on belly laughs or heartfelt tears as they riddle me with a feast of stories about their lives.

Words communicate clearly.

There’s a saying in copywriting: aim for clarity over cleverness. If we’re having honesty hour, that’s one tough cookie of an assignment for me -- I’d rather plumb the depths of word play, leapfrog jump from poetic device to a vocab word from fifth grade Wordly Wise. But alas, clairon is king.

Smart, sharp writing matters because there are so few solid, tight writers on the internet. You’ll stand out. A good writer knows when to “kill her darlings,” and edit something out.

Note that this doesn’t charge you to nix all adjectives; it just begets you make every word count. Cut to the chase. Leave them wanting more.

Words matter because you can set other souls aflame.

Finally, I’d argue that in packing punch with your words, from your about page to your emails, you’re given the opportunity to tap into your reader’s demographic AND psychographic.

And that, that my friend is powerful.

These insecurities and vulnerabilities we all struggle with need some sort of a primal verification, which words can salve. No matter what your blog or your business, your platform has given you the opportunity to steward a message and champion a call to action. Author Donald Miller says in each great story, there is the hero, and there is the guide. Katniss has Hamich, Harry has Dumbledore. It’s soul-stirring to know you can help guide someone else toward their truth, and recognize how they can pursue something greater than themselves. Picture yourself as a guide to shepherd your reader towards a truth -- and remember, you certainly don’t have to have it all figured out to speak up! Sometimes, it’s best if we feel someone sitting or walking alongside us.

I believe you can become a better writer for your blog or creative small business. Lysa TerKeurst has said before that as a writer, she wants to be a “noticer of life.” When you notice life, all is grist for the mill. Look for ways to weave storytelling about your about page, business copy, or blog into your next copywriting assignment, let the words rest for a day, and come back and edit with fresh eyes before you hit publish. You’ll see story weave before your eyes.

Thank you to Ashlyn for her encouragment! Make sure to head over to her blog (and find her on instagram and twitter @ashlynscarter) to learn more about this amazing woman and her beautiful way with words!