The Ultimate Guide To Using Instagram for Church Marketing
Church marketing is one of the most overlooked aspects of leading a church. Still, it’s a familiar pain for many religious leaders and their teams. Believe it or not, there are over 350,000 different types of congregations in the United States.
Fortunately for you, that doesn’t mean the competition is too stiff, as many congregations still haven’t adapted to the times. In the digital age, there’s no better way to market your church than on social media. Let’s talk about some important Instagram marketing strategies for churches and how you can put them into practice today!
Benefits of Instagram For Church Marketing
Before we get into the details, let’s first understand why churches should use Instagram in their marketing strategies. Here are some of the key benefits:
Instagram (and social media generally) is a great way to reach out directly to your target audience. This includes your regular churchgoers and members of your community who may want to join your church. With over 1.28 billion active users, there’s no shortage of potential.
Having an open line of communication will help your church answer questions from your community, respond to feedback, announce important updates, and keep everybody engaged with your church.
On top of that, it can show members of your community who may be looking for a new place to connect, what your church is about. This can help on-ramp, new members, or volunteers, later on!
One of the biggest struggles for churches is retaining churchgoers. If you want to foster a sense of community, then you will need to keep your audience engaged. Social media is one of the best ways to do that, and Instagram happens to be the ideal platform.
This is especially true if you want to keep your younger audience engaged. Instagram, along with TikTok, is among the most popular platforms for Millennials and Gen Z, with over 33 million Gen Zers on the platform to date.
Expanding your reach and scaling is not just for businesses. If you want to expand the reach of your church’s message, there’s no better tool than digital marketing.
You can not only direct traffic to your website, but also build an organic online following or community. We live in the digital age, so why not take advantage of these opportunities to expand the scope of your church?
How to Optimize an Instagram Profile
When creating an Instagram profile to represent your church, there are a few critical aspects to keep in mind. Here are the most important ones:
1. Use a Clear Name
This isn’t too hard for most churches. You just need to keep your name concise enough that it won’t cut off on certain screens. If the name of your church is long, try to keep the important keywords first.
For example, if your church’s name is “Crossroads United Methodist Church in Boston, MA”, you could either put the “Crossroads UMC” or the “Crossroads Church Boston” first. In this case, we’d recommend the former, as newbies will understand that you’re a church.
Again, it doesn’t have to be rocket science. You simply want users to know what your profile is!
For your handle, try to keep this as clear and concise as possible as well. This is the part that starts with the “@” symbol.
Try to avoid using too many underscores or numbers. If your church’s name was already taken, it’s okay to use an underscore or hyphen as needed. The key is legibility.
2. Choose Your Image Wisely
Your image needs to be as clear and legible as possible. The reason is that on the Instagram mobile app, it will only appear as a small circle that users cannot expand by clicking on it. Users must be able to understand this image in its constricted form.
A clear image of your church logo should suffice.
3. Optimize Your Bio
The bio says it all. In two lines or fewer, you’ll need to say everything you want to say to your audience, as that’s your entire allowance before readers will need to click “read more”.
Keep your bio as concise and detailed as possible, and add a link to your church’s website if you have one. These can be descriptive of your church or your Instagram, depending on the goals of your marketing strategy. Here are a few good examples:
- “Enjoy bible verses to start off the day and our latest community updates.”
- “Baptist Church in Fort Worth, TX – [website link]”
- “Stay up to date with our latest news from our church community [email address]”
There’s no limit to what you can add!
4. Set to “Public”
Unless you want a private church Instagram page, which you may, having one public profile is essential for outreach and marketing. Remember to set at least one church Instagram page to “public”.
What to Post on Instagram
Churches are fortunate enough to have plenty of great opportunities for keeping their followers engaged. For one, you have local members of your community who generate content for you, which you can always share.
Also, you should have plenty of opportunities for visual content as a church. This can include bible verses, imagery from the church itself, worship, the pastor preaching, photo ops, volunteers, community, and so much more.
Stories are still relatively new to Instagram. Most social media platforms adopted this style after Snapchat introduces them in 2013.
These stories appear on followers’ feeds and disappear after 24 hours. They have to click on them to see what you post.
Stories offer great opportunities to share new photos, a daily bible verse, or whatever you want to keep your users engaged!
Our brains process visual content up to 60,000 times faster than text. If you understand that, then you can understand why marketers using Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are so successful at reaching younger audiences.
Therefore, eye-catching imagery is the bread and butter of a platform like Instagram. These can be pictures you’ve taken at the church, relevant religious imagery, and more. You can switch up your visual imagery with graphic designs, animation, and more to continue catching the eyes of your audience.
3. User-Generated Content
Some of your churchgoers almost certainly post on their own stories or page and tag your church. This is a great and easy way to re-share content, and it’s beneficial for everybody.
Think about it. You have new content to share, the creator feels validated and closer to your community, and users get to read or experience their meaningful message. It’s a win-win-win.
Instagram’s newest feature, Reels, is a great way to create video content for your church. Grabbing >60 clips from the most recent sermon, a mid-week message from the pastor, part of a worship song, some behind-the-scenes of what goes on at the church, etc. Instagram’s algorithm is specifically promoting and expanded the reach of Reels over the past 6 months. There are many tools to create quick video content that have the opportunity to be shared and spread quickly.
Building a Following on Instagram
Okay, you know how to start an account and you know the basic etiquette of the platform. Here’s what you need to know about building your followers:
1. Set Realistic Goals
A great way to start your follower strategy is to set realistic goals. You may not want to have a number in mind, as this can lead to disappointment and burnout. However, having a range between a minimum follower count and an ideal follower count is a great idea.
If it doesn’t go as planned, that’s okay. You can always make adjustments over time. Remember, the point is to keep your existing audience engaged, as retention is arguably more important than acquisition, especially in the context of a church!
2. Prompt Churchgoers In-Person
You don’t have to make it part of your sermon, but it’s a great idea to inform your church members of your Instagram page and encourage them to follow it. Let them know that you will post new updates here and that you can actively respond to questions or comments from members. Give them a reason to follow you and they are more likely to do so!
3. Follow Members of Your Community
If you were a large multinational company, you wouldn’t want to go this route. However, it won’t harm a church’s reputation to follow existing members of your church community. As a church, you don’t have to worry about follower ratios or anything like that!
From there, feel free to engage directly with those you follow. Comment, like, or share content from members of your community. Keep these engagements appropriate, as you are representing your church to the entire world.
4. Stay Consistent
Consistency is the key to building an organic following on social media. Ideally, you will post a new story, post, video, or reel every day, but you don’t have to. At the very least, we recommend posting three times a week.
For a church, this shouldn’t be too challenging. You’ll have your entire community available for a sermon at least once a week, which can certainly grant a photo opportunity. From there, you only need one or two more posts to keep up.
Moreover, this includes user-generated content (sharing), verses, sharing stories of lift-change from your church, or anything else. Again, three times is the minimum but aim for four to five every week. They don’t all have to post, but some type of activity.
5. Use Hashtags and Trends (Wisely)
Hashtags and trends are a great way to expand your audience. Unfortunately, they’re also a great way to appear spammy or out of touch.
You want to use these tools to your advantage, but remember to use them sparingly. If something comes up that’s relevant to your church’s core values, use it. However, don’t go out of your way to make a trending topic work for you, as this can erode trust.
For each post, use a few relevant hashtags, but try to limit it to five or fewer per post. Keep them relevant and concise for the best results. This will help improve your organic reach for any users searching for those hashtags, whether they follow you or not. The hashtag game is always changing with new algorithms pulling directly from the words in your caption now. Don’t feel the need to hashtag every possible word that could be connected to your church.
6. Test New Content
Testing new content and tracking your engagement is a great way to facilitate continuous improvement. If you don’t track how users respond to certain types of content, it’s hard to adapt your strategy over time.
Most importantly, you want to track your engagement rates. This includes likes, shares, saves, comments, and more. The higher your engagement with certain types of content, the more you should use it.
7. Get Professional Help
With the help of professional church marketing services, you can jumpstart your Instagram marketing strategy and get a head start on building your audience. Laying a strong foundation with the right marketing tools will make building your audience much easier in the long run.
Build Your Church Marketing Strategy Today
Now that you know more about church marketing on Instagram, why wait to put these tips to use? The sooner you do, the sooner you can improve your community engagement, boost your audience, and generate new interest in your church. With the right help, it can happen sooner than you’d think!
Stay up to date with our latest marketing tips, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or for help with your church marketing strategy!