Instagram is becoming more and more popular to showcase and celebrate life’s small and big moments. Ministries can optimize their Instagram account to effectively communicate to their followers and church members, plus grow their church body. It’s a win-win.
Instagram is known for its beautiful images, well-thought-out posts, and in-the-moment snapshots. Any account that does not meet those parameters will lose followers and engagement. But don’t worry—Instagram is a mobile-only platform you can have some fun with and engage in a new form of art.
Follow the 7 steps below to optimize your ministry’s Instagram account.
Unlike many of the other social media platforms, Instagram only has a profile picture instead of a profile and cover image. It’s one of the main graphics your followers will see and associate with your ministry. Use your church logo or graphic that followers will easily recognize as your church.
On Instagram, you have both a name and a username. The username is displayed publicly and what people will see when they search for you on the app. Make sure your username is your church name or as close to it as possible. If your ministry name is already taken, so you can add some numbers, location, or word to the end of your ministry name. Your Instagram name should be your church name, and it’s okay if your username and name are the same.
Your bio is one of the most important parts of your Instagram profile. With only 150 characters available, you must be concise and clear. Follow this fill-in-the-blank template for your bio:
Official Instagram feed of [church name] in [city, state]. [Your church tagline]. [Your church #hashtag]
If you have a long church mission, choose 2-4 words to include, such as, Worship. Community. Serve.
Be sure to add your church website and address. Adding your address will allow people to tag you by location and see where you are geographically located.
Surprise! You can’t add clickable URLs to your Instagram post. So, what do you do?! The most popular option is to update your bio link with any relevant direct links and mention in your post, “Link in Bio” or “Click link in bio for more information”.
Depending on your website structure, you may be able to always keep your direct church website in your bio if you have updates easily accessible on your homepage. For example, if you post a snippet from a church blog, you can say “Read more at ChurchName.com”. Users of the platform intuitively know then to click the link in your bio to continue reading and to find the blog on your website homepage.
Here’s where the exciting part is…posting! Your Instagram posts should contain components from your brand and be aesthetically appealing. Instagram is in a grid layout so any inconsistent colors or filters will stick out like a sore thumb. Does your church have specific colors or fonts? Incorporate them in your posts. Use similar filters and colors in each post for brand cohesiveness.
Your images are the main attraction of your Instagram presence and will cause your followers to stop and read the post or continue scrolling past. Depending on your church style and post content, you can include only two words or write multiple paragraphs. If you do post long form descriptions such as blog excerpts or church updates, be sure to use easy-to-read language and descriptive words that paint a mental picture. Try a variety of posts and gauge the response.
Hashtags are the life stream of Instagram. They allow your post (and account) to be found by new followers with similar interests and for you to provide tags.
If your church doesn’t have a hashtag, this is your time to do so! It should include your church name or abbreviation. Encourage your congregation to use the hashtag and display it on your digital and print communications. Users can then select the hashtag to view posts that contain the filter.
Use other hashtags that are relevant to your post and geographic location. If you aren’t sure which hashtags to use, look at other local or national churches to get ideas.
Instagram Stories are video or pictures that appear at the top of the feed and disappear after 24 hours. When you’ve posted a new Story, a colorful ring will appear around your profile picture.
Play around with Stories and have fun! Stories give churches the opportunity to share the real people behind the ministry and build anticipation of upcoming events or services. Give a tour of the church, share what the pastor is listening to, a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Sunday service prep, or Scripture highlights in your Bible. Ministries can use Stories to remind followers of church gatherings or to share an encouraging word. Your imagination is the limit with Stories.
BONUS TIP: Instagram is owned by Facebook, so the algorithm functions in a similar manner. The more people that Like and Comment on your post, the more those users will see your posts. If they do not interact with your account over a period of time, Instagram will stop showing your post to those followers. An easy way to increase visibility is to reply to every comment on your posts—plus, it’s good customer service!
Want to save over 20 hours in your social media outreach? Take the free Church Social Media Assessment to get customized video results and must-do action items and tips!