I am completely obsessed with Instagram. It’s probably because I have narcissistic tendencies and enjoy posting pictures of myself or my delicious dinner.
Like Twitter, Instagram has a younger demographic than Facebook. It’s a social networking app that only contains pictures and captions. Celebrities, bloggers, and teenagers fill the app with photos of their friends, their food, and their faces (Instagram is the home of the selfie).
However, many businesses (and churches!) are beginning to use Instagram to promote their products or services. While it’s not quite as conducive to advertising as other social media sites—you can’t click links in captions—Instagram can be a way to inspire others through images. Your church can utilize Instagram to engage your members, too.
Keep it consistent
Your Instagram name, Twitter handle, and Facebook URL should all have the same name (e.g., @HolyCrossAlaska on Instagram and Twitter, and facebook.com/HolyCrossAlaska).
Because Instagram is entirely visual content (images and videos only), it requires a certain level of visual consistency to your posts. Try using similar filters on all your photos, and post images consistent with your church’s mission and purpose. VSCOcam and Faded are my filter apps of choice. Instagram has some good built-in filters as well.
Throw out #ManCrushMonday
I know we’re all sick of seeing #womencrushwednesday posts, so create your own weekly hashtags for your church! Initiate a #MeditationMonday post, where you post a Bible verse to meditate on, or start a #FaithFriday trend where you feature a picture of an individual and their testimony. Crafting these weekly hashtags requires a little creativity and a lot of drive to remember to post them every week, but it creates a culture of community on your account. People will remember your weekly trends and look forward to seeing them!
Think like a marketer
I’d be remiss if I failed to quote the cliché, “a picture’s worth a thousand words” at least once in this post. It’s true, though. Designate a photographer for every event, and make sure you snap some candid shots that showcase the general atmosphere of the event.
Photograph VBS, Christmas church services, youth group outings, and weekly Bible study meetings to give visitors (and members!) a feel for how these events look. If you’re posting pictures of people’s faces, make sure you have their permission (or their parent’s permission).
Check in at your church (and encourage others to, too!)
Instagram has the capability to check in at locations so that you can browse other pictures that were taken at that same location. Check in at your church when you post a picture taken there, and occasionally browse your church’s location to see if any new members have posted anything. Like and comment on their photo, and thank them for coming to visit!
Create a hashtag
In our previous blog post on Twitter, we outlined how to create a hashtag for your church and different hashtags for events you host. Check it out to learn how hashtags you create can be used across different social media accounts!
Host a contest
With this type of contest, Instagram users take photos and post to their own accounts. We wanted them to tag us and include our unique hastag in their post. By doing that, our goal was to get contest participants to follow us on Instagram, but also for that person's followers decide to follow us on Instagram, too. The hastag would show all posts associated with the contest, and our name would show all of the photos we've posted in the past.
is to have users post photos they take on their own accounts, tag your account when they post, include a contest hashtag (ours was #archbooks50), tag a friend, and follow your account (and their tagged friend, too!). Not only does this increase your follower count, it gets people personally involved with your church.
You could give away tickets to a local Christian artist’s upcoming concert, a t-shirt/travel mug with your church’s logo, or a brand new Bible. Make sure your contest reflects the prize (e.g., if you’re giving away concert tickets, have followers post a picture and caption that reflects why they love the artist).
Maybe I’m biased, but I think Instagram is one of the coolest social networking apps. It’s not quite as dynamic as other sites, but it focuses on letting the image speak for itself, making it an ideal app for churches to convey the love they have for Christ!
If you want to connect with the younger generations in your congregation, Instagram is a great way to reach out. But Instagram's demographic is expanding!