When you see the most popular posts on Twitter, Instagram and even Google+, it’s not uncommon to see a hashtag (or five) within their character limit. Using a hashtag can be a a great way to help people who might be interested in your topic, find your post, they can also lead to follow on inspired by or offshoots from your original post.
As a church, it can be incredibly powerful to have your own hashtag which your church members know and use. This can insure that your members see not only the content which the church puts out and broadcasts but also can participate and build stronger connections with each other.
Finally, It’s can also be a key ingredient in implementing certain new technologies in your church such as having a Twitter backchannel or automatically downloading photos tagged in a certain way.
The problem is, making sure you create a unique and strong hashtag.
The 6 Ingredients to the Perfect Church Hashtag
The key aspects to a good church hashtag are:
Basically, your aim is for your members to hear the hashtag and then be able to tell someone it the next day and they will understand what it is about. Of course, there maybe an aspect of compromise in some areas of the above point and you can overcome some shortcomings, but if all these statements are true, then this would be the perfect combination.
Using real words help (as they are easier to tell and remember), but using abbreviated words and letters is also okay, just be careful not to use too many in a row, it gets a lot harder to remember.
Series and Ministry Hashtags
An alternative to the constant church hashtag is to have a series or ministry hashtag. This can be useful to group social media messages together on a series that you are looking at. This can help look back at the series and can also help members of the church find items about a specific topic they are studying or a specific ministry they are involved in.
This is really useful if you want to make sure you never miss an post on a certain topic or if you want to collect in responses, ideas, pictures, etc… from church members involved.
Of course you can use multiple hashtags together, so you could even have the church, ministry and series hashtag all in a post/tweet when appropriate. The danger here is that these hashtags can take up too much space in the message.
ChurchMag Staff Writer Phil Schneider shared that his church has been using #ilovecstone for their “I love my church” campaign. It’s short, easy to remember, and pretty unique.
Hillsong have been running a #crossequalslove campaign. Again it’s memorable, should be fairly unique and is descriptive. However, it is a little on the longer side, that would be my only possible criticism. Still in this case it is worth going a bit longer for the simplicity and ease of remembering and understanding the hashtag.
Be Careful When Using Trending Hashtags
Be very careful not to use the same hashtag as some other event as you don’t to have you and your church members images diluted in with other churches or organization. However, that doesn’t mean you should look at trending hashtags and use them in addition to your churches hashtag, but when you make sure your post is relevant (how annoying is it when some spammy marketing company try to sell you stuff on a trending topic) and be ready for the trolls.
How Many Hashtags Are Too Many?
Different platforms also favor different numbers of hashtags. On something like Twitter one or two (at most three) hashtags are fine, but anymore makes your tweet look spammy (even if they are all relevant), it’s similar on Google+.
However, on Instagram and especially Tumblr many more hashtags are fine. On Tumblr it is largely due to the hashtags been hidden from view more, so they don’t appear in the body of your post. On Instagram, it can be a good idea to post the hashtag in the comments so they can be hidden from view.
If you manage to achieve most of the criteria for a good church hashtag, then you’ll sure to be #WINNING.