As the church embraces digital solutions for connection, leaders are looking for the platforms and tools that will give them the most for their money. In the realm of social media, Facebook and YouTube reign supreme. However, many leaders have expressed growing frustration with the reach and engagement of Facebook and the difficulty of creating content for YouTube. The best-kept secret of the social media world is Instagram, and church leaders and communicators are starting to wise-up to the power the platform offers. It is the fastest-growing social platform in 2020. It still offers a larger organic reach of 3-8% compared to the typical 1-3% engagement rate of a Facebook page.

Instagram also offers the opportunity to foster more personal and meaningful connections than other platforms. Instagram Stories are an ever-evolving pathway into 1-on-1 conversations that can “humanize” your church and shatter barriers to ministry online.

These eight Instagram tactics will help you engage on the platform with your people and create meaningful connections they will appreciate:

#1 – Focus on Your Audience

If you took a look at your last twenty posts on Instagram, what would it say about you? Do you talk about yourself too much? If many churches were honest, the self-focused nature of their content is so frequent that the church could be labeled as narcissistic. 

Creating content that answers the follower’s question of “what’s in it for me?” will provide value to your followers, giving them a reason to care about what you are saying, and establish trust between them and your church.

#2 – Take Time to Engage

The algorithm of Instagram heavily accounts for how much you comment, reply, and like other posts on the platform. If all your church does is schedule posts each day without responding to comments or liking/commenting on posts from your followers, your account is going to experience low engagement and growth.

Instagram wants you to engage in conversations everywhere on the platform and will reward this behavior.

#3 – Create Content That Feels Personal

When you look at the content of some of the most popular Instagram accounts, you will notice that it feels very personal. It’s like they are talking directly to you. 

Churches should focus on what is in it for your audience to make their content feel more personal. For example, instead of replying to a direct message with text, send a voice recording or a video response. Create Instagram Stories that use conversation stickers, encouraging followers to interact. Try not to take yourself too seriously.

The raw, unpolished video feels authentic when a highly produced video smacks of marketing, which users can smell a mile away. If you need help creating personal content, download this recently updated free resource of 88 ideas for church social media posts.

#4 – Inspiration Before Information

Posts that have higher engagement tend to lean more into an inspirational or storytelling quality than those that simply relay detailed information. Informational posts might relay times and dates but they are easily ignored on social media.

A more powerful approach is to tell a story that inspires someone to care about your event or announcement. If they care, they’ll find the times and dates. Shoot a video with someone who went to the last event and have them talk about how it changed their life or post a photo that makes users feel like they would be missing out if they didn’t sign up.

When you take a look at how Nike advertises, they seldom mention prices, features, or products. They sell their products as a means to someone achieving goals like being a pro athlete or looking stylish. Churches can embrace the same strategy and see far more engagement and action on Instagram.

#5 – One Link to Rule Them All

You cannot link to websites and offers on Instagram unless you have over 10k followers with the exception of the website link allowed in your profile’s bio. So using that one link to lead to multiple links is a good way to send people to your most important web links.

Create a web page on your website with your important links instead of using a third party service. This way you will get credit on your website for traffic that helps with SEO (search engine optimization) as well. Then put the link to that page in your Instagram profile. 

This allows you to cleanly direct people to the link in your bio from your content and get the most out of one link.

#6 – Make Use of Carousel Posts

Carousel posts on Instagram consist of up to ten images or videos in one feed post that users can swipe through at their own pace. These are highly engaging posts because of the FOMO (fear of missing out) they create. Users feel like they need to swipe through the content before moving on because they know they won’t come back to it. 

The carousel post is a golden opportunity for churches to microblog. If you can think of a topic to blog about like “How to study the Bible in three steps” or “How to join a small group” then you can create a carousel microblog that visually leads a user through that information.

Churches can find free images online to use or use a service like Canva to create these quickly. Follow me on Instagram to see examples of these types of posts.

Instagram has the power to engage your audience at a deeper level and can truly be an asset in the age of the digital church that is upon us now. 

Check out these additional Instagram resources for churches:

6 Steps to Posting on Instagram

10 Practical Ways Your Church Can Use Instagram Now

5 Traits That Differentiate Instagram From Other Social Networks

The Influence of Instagram [Infographic]