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How to take your newsletter to Instagram

Instagram is also a writer's corner

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Piyali Mukherjee

Nov 21 2020

3 min read

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You've published. 

 

You’ve posted on Medium, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. You’re considering but not convinced about Instagram, especially if your skills lie in long-form text. How would you translate your thoughtfully-written and carefully-researched work into a platform ruled by coffee pictures and sunsets? 

 

I’ve got four viable answers. 

 

1. Don't hide your text in post captions

To catch your readers mid-doom-scroll, your text content needs to be up-front. Instead of having a random image with your text in the captions, put your text in the image itself. Captions are still a tap away from accessing content that should be apparent. Try using your captions to redirect users to your actual newsletter, and enable discovery through hashtags. 

 

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2. Summarize your takeaways

Saved Instagram posts are ranked higher by the algorithm than posts that are liked or shared. The easiest way to encourage saving is to create takeaways/summaries in your post that users can come back to. For inspiration, look at how @nedtratawwab and @soyouwanttotalkabout create their posts. 

 

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3. Use Carousels to create section outlines of your content 

Swiping is an act of engagement, so create material that encourages swiping. 

Open with something that evokes memory (archival images, childhood pictures, a grandparent, etc.) or raises a question (preferably why and how, not what). Use your captions to encourage swiping behavior. Instagram comic strips rely heavily on this format, as you can unfold each panel per post. The last post of the carousel will usually contain the whole comic in a shareable format. Here’s an example from @catscafecomics

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4. Create meaningful diagrams/partitions of your content 

Tease readers with meaningful sub-headers, quotes and hot takes. This showcases your interesting arguments without giving away the entire context. You can mimic a reader's skimming behavior by offering section outlines, graphs and charts as well. For example, @monachalabi creates imaginative political graphics. 

 

Here’s an example from my (modest) personal instagram. My most recent publish was about how to optimize your dates. Here's how I ported it to instagram:

I’ve also provided analytics screenshots so you can compare the increase in impressions and reach. 

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Finally, a note on design choices. While instagram is a visual platform, written content tends to err on the side of minimal and legible. Too many emojis or disruptive gifs are discouraged. Bold color schemes, though, are encouraged. I admit that I use Canva to structure my graphics. 

 

I hope this skyrockets you to the fame you deserve. May your swipers continue swiping. Please feel free to leave a comment for any other strategies I missed!


Special thanks to Charlene Wang, Jason Liu, Meeta Sharma, Sasha Levage, Nivi Jayasekar, Justin Norman and Alexander Hugh Sam for editorial review.

This Letterdrop post was brought to you by our guest author and resident copy queen Peels. Letterdrop is a great platform for anyone interested in starting an independent newsletter business without additional trips to a therapist. Subscribe for more tips on growing your newsletter, building an audience and starting a business from your writing.

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