When it comes to Instagram, churches tend to steer away or just do the minimum because they either don’t have the right tools or the right person for the job. Instagram is a tricky social media platform because it not only requires text, it also requires images to create the perfect message. However, your church can excel at Instagram by following a few simple steps. We’ve compiled five easy steps to improve your church’s Instagram strategy.
Step One: Create a Distinct Username
Your username is what tells people who you are. It should be the name of your church or something similar so there is no confusion about your account. Instagram only gives you 30 characters to work with, so finding the right name needs to be strategic. If you have a lengthy church name, try shortening it or using abbreviations. For example, one Oklahoma church, Henderson Hills Baptist Church, has a name a little too long for an Instagram account, so they made their Instagram name @hhbcok. Trinity Church became @trichurch. Whatever account name you choose, make sure it’s distinct enough for people to find you and follow you.
Step Two: Write a Dynamic Bio
Imagine the bio section of your Instagram account like a first date. It’s where people learn more about you. However, if you put too much information on your bio, you’ll scare people off and they won’t want to follow you anymore. Like a first date, if you divulge too much information right off the bat, your date might get overwhelmed and head to the bathroom never to be seen again. Don’t be the one left at the table alone when it comes to your Instagram account.
Keep it short and sweet. Hillsong Church does an excellent job keeping it simple by coupling their mission statement with a link to their website.
Don’t forget to add your church’s logo for your profile picture so people can easily identify you when they search for your church.
Step Three: Compile Hashtags
Hashtag: a word or phrase preceded by a hash sign (#), used on social media websites and applications.
To compile these hashtags, you’ll need to spend some time looking at other churches’ Instagram accounts. Find churches that best resemble your church and your beliefs. What hashtags are they using in their text and comments? Once you find a few you think might work, “follow” these hashtags. Anytime anyone uses this hashtag, it will show up in your feed so you can see the types of things people post. Keep in mind hashtags are always changing so it requires you to stay up-to-date with the latest phrases being used on social media.
Step Four: Make a Plan
The next step is to make a plan of when you are going to post to Instagram. According to ExpertVoice, here are the most popular times to post:
- Monday: 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Tuesday: 5:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
- Wednesday: 5:00 a.m.,11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
- Thursday: 5:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Don’t feel overwhelmed by the number of times presented on this list. Find a social media scheduling tool such as Hootsuite or SproutSocial. You can schedule out content to be posted at any time so you don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Tuesday morning or stay late any other day of the week.
Once you start posting during these times, try looking at the analytics in your scheduling tool. It will show you when the most popular times your audience is engaging with your content. If your engagement is low, try tweaking the above times slightly to see if you can find the sweet spot of your audience. The above times are simply a starting point.
Step Five: Be Intentional
Lastly, it’s important to be intentional when it comes to your Instagram account. Instagram accounts with fake personas that don’t relate to anyone are plentiful. When you are creating your content, make sure that it’s content that is relatable for your followers.
LifeChurch does a great job at finding key messages from their sermon series that relate to their audience. Sometimes it’s a Bible verse and sometimes it’s a simple quote, but keeping your messages intentional will help you draw in more audience members.
Instagram also has the capability of creating “Stories” which allows you to post a picture that shows for 24 hours before disappearing. As a church, this is a great opportunity for you to post questions people can respond to without their name being seen by every follower of your account. You can also highlight events in your stories so people can see what your church is up to and how the Gospel is being spread.
Ultimately, Instagram is a place where people come to engage with others. As a church, you can have a dynamic Instagram account by simply following these steps. Find other churches and organizations who relate to your church and follow them. What are they doing that you like? Perhaps you have other ideas that could make an impact, too. Take a risk and jump in to start using a new connection tool that can share your church’s message with others.
Deciding which communication activities are most important for your church can be a challenge. Check out the resources in the Church Relevance Course Shop to get started streamlining your efforts and making sure you’re doing what matters. We’re adding more courses all the time.
Samantha Decker has worked as a content marketer and the church communications director for a local church. Samantha brings both experience and a passion to equip the church by providing resources to help them live out their mission for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus. She’s always up for some (good) coffee, travel, and intentional conversation. Samantha enjoys living in Oklahoma City with her husband, Dustin, and their two sons Eli and Caden.