Back in April, Facebook made waves by purchasing the photo sharing app Instagram for a whopping $1 billion. With over 30 million users on iPhone alone (they’ve since launched an Android version of the app), the Instagram+Facebook partnership commands a substantial online audience.
So how can this audience be leveraged to engage those who care about your church or ministry? Is it worth spending time and resources on yet another online trend? What makes sharing photos through Instagram different or better than doing the same on Facebook?
Why Use Instagram?
1. IT’S VISUAL
People love images. They tell a story—your story—through the emotions they convey. A smiling child at summer camp. An exploding confetti cannon at Easter. A joyful new believer, post baptism. Photos have the ability to record the spirit of a moment better than words ever can.
2. IT’S INSTANT
Online content’s shelf life is measured in seconds (and continues to dwindle by the day as people grow more “connected”), so posting pictures of events the day after they occur may already be considered outdated.
Instagram allows you to engage people in real time, as you experience it.
It only takes a few seconds to snap a photo with your phone, apply a filter, and share with your followers.
3. IT’S SHARABLE
The app lets you pair social media accounts to your feed so you can automatically display your Instagram photos via your Facebook and Twitter accounts. People can then easily and quickly share it with their friends through these avenues. Using hashtags (like #goodfriday or #summercamp) also allow for trending and findability in various feeds.
4. IT’S PERSONAL
Most mobile photos are candid and authentic-feeling. They bring an aura of intimacy not usually communicated through other photos. You can take advantage of this by giving people an inside look into your special events, making them feel like they have a deeper level of participation. A photo from an event speaker looking out into the audience may garner more impact than a generic picture of the speaker from an audience member.
How Do I Use Instagram?
CHECK IT OUT
Play around on your personal account to learn the ins and outs. Follow your friends and make a note of what makes you go “ahhh!” Try out each photo filter and different lighting and composition techniques.
PLAN IT OUT
Instragram’s strengths lie in presenting instant, candid, personal moments—utilize that strength in your strategy for this medium.
LAUNCH IT OUT
Start an account for your church or ministry and sync your social media accounts. Introduce your account across your communication platforms to gain followers.
DELEGATE IT OUT
Find some people in your ministry already using Instagram effectively (especially those who have deeper behind the scenes access, like pastors or worship leaders). Give them your account login information and draft them into service with a few assignments.
SEND IT OUT
Start taking compelling photos and share them on your accounts. Experiment to see what gains more attention and shares. Rinse and repeat.
This article was written with the help of Bryan Young.