Marketing specialist and founder of @PraisePix, an Instagram ministry with over 23K followers.
A lot of ministries and churches worldwide are now beginning to understand the impact and reach of connecting with people online. If you have adopted this macro mindset, this is one of the most practical pieces of content to help your ministry post effectively on Instagram and grow your following. It’s important to understand that each social media platform is different. Whether you are just beginning on Instagram and looking for ways to be more active, or if you have already built a following and would like to see it grow, this information will bring you value. We will begin with two basic rules and then go into detail
about specific step by step tactics every ministry should be doing.
Figure out your goal. One of the biggest questions that you will have to ask yourself and the members of your ministry is: what are we trying to accomplish and who are we trying to reach? Maybe you are a local church simply wanting to update your members and surrounding community on upcoming events or programs. Or maybe you are a youth and young adults ministry hoping to reach more teens and millennials online. The reason why this is so important is because many times when speaking with churches or ministries looking to get more active on social media, their immediate response to this question is “we want to reach everyone.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with that answer (in fact it’s amazing!), however it is much more effective to become a part of an online community when you have specified what that community is.
Build a community. This is the most important and critical aspect that many accounts overlook on Instagram. There is a difference between building a community and having a following. This is the reason why you will find pages on Instagram that have thousands of followers and only receive a small amount of likes and comments per post. On the reverse, that’s also why you can find accounts with 700 followers which have very high engagement. Whether you have 500 followers or 5,000 followers, it is so important to interact with your community.
The truth is, the best way to grow on social media is to be to social. Reply to comments, say thank you, say hello and ask people where they are from etc. People will feel a deeper connection to your ministry and it’s message when your account feels less like a brand, and more like meaningful human interaction.
When someone follows your page, they are voluntarily giving you their attention. Be mindful and considerate of the great gift of their time.
Content: Before we get into the specific practices to help any ministry expand their reach on Instagram, your content will play a major role in how people interact with your posts. If you can post everyday, the better. Here are some tips on what kind of content you can easily put together in a matter of minutes if you run out of pictures or videos from your events to post, or if you’re not sure what to post consistently.
Unsplash is an amazing resource of stock images available to download and use for any creative or commercial project for free. Once you find an image, add any quotes or Bible verses relating to your ministry with a wide variety of apps available on the Apple and Google App stores which allow you to add
text on photos at no cost. Now you have content to post. Then what?
Hashtags: Step #1 is finding the best Hashtags to follow and post on Instagram. For this article, we will be using the examples of ministries focused on Ending Poverty and Refugees. Spend about 30 seconds scrolling through the top 9 posts of each hashtag suggested by Instagram and engage with the community you aspire to become a part of.
If your goal is to reach more people on Instagram who will value and engage with your content, take some time out everyday (10-20 minutes) to actively post and interact. Whether this is liking an image, asking questions, replying to comments or sending direct messages, every action counts. I always try to remember that there are real people behind the phone screens and computers who are being affected by our online activity.
Instagram Stories. Instagram stories and live videos are a powerful way to reach your followers. If your ministry has a separate website, blog, or link that leads to a more in depth article, long length video, or landing page that you would like your followers to visit, Instagram stories are a great way to let people know what you have going on. Make sure to include text letting your followers know to click on the link in your bio. If you have a larger following, Instagram will give you the option to connect a link to your story. That way you can inform your followers to “swipe up” and it will lead them directly to the link you
attached to the story. See example below:
Instagram Live. Instagram live is a great way for ministries to engage and connect in real time with their followers. It’s a great way to allow the followers who couldn’t make it to some of the events you’ve hosted to stay updated with what’s going on, and still feel a part of the community. It’s also a great tool to simply say hello to the people who took the time to open your live stream.
Instagram launched a collaborative live tool which allows two people to go live at one time from different locations. This gives a new opportunity to have conversations that matter and answer questions that people have in your community and give them a word of encouragement.
We hope this post answered some of your questions about Instagram! Keep up the good work Digital Evangelists!
Whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart; as working for the LORD, not for men: Colossians 3:23
Marketing specialist and founder of @PraisePix, an Instagram ministry with over 23K followers.
HOW IT STARTED
Growing up in the Adventist church, I had become privy to the privilege of the Gospel but found myself struggling to tap into its power. Three years ago, I graduated from Southwestern Adventist University and was a wide-eyed dreamer ready to change the world. Less than a year into my first job, I became disillusioned about life and my positivity “Petered out” as I started to question whether I could make an impact. To be totally transparent I still do, but thank God for His never ending grace and reassurance. I rededicated my life in service to Jesus Christ and on January 1, 2017 PraisePix was created.
At this current date by the grace of God, PraisePix has over 23,000 online followers, averaging 2,500 daily engagements, 430 weekly comments and over 250,000 monthly impressions. My professional background is in digital marketing, and below I’ve happily given away all the detailed creative strategies that were used to grow the page from zero within a little over a year.
To God be the glory.
CREATING THE CONTENT
One of the most important things when it comes to growing an online community at scale is creating quality consistent content. If you have little to no experience on Photoshop, there are still numerous amounts of apps available on most smartphones that allow anyone to add text to photos. If you are
looking for great pictures to use, there are thousands of stock images available online at no cost under the creative commons licence. This provides an amazing opportunity for small or large churches looking to get more active on social media and need more content to post on their pages. As much as you can, try to update your pages a few times a week. On PraisePix, I upload new content at least 3 times a day.
Below is an example of a $10 Instagram ad that was executed from PraisePix to targeted Christian social media users from the ages of 13-65 globally. Here is the digital data:
In most cases, when you’re starting an online ministry you will be working with a tight budget and that’s okay. Hashtags on Instagram are a simple and effective way to introduce a wider audience to your page.
For example, the hashtag #faith, #love, and #hope are searched and engaged with online over 450 times daily.
COMMUNITY AND VALUE
Once your page is up and running, spend time as often as you can to be a part of the community. Whether you have 100 followers or 10,000, treat every person who’s chosen to follow your page with Christ like
love. Reply to comments, respond to direct messages, like and share other content that inspires you and create innovative ways to bring spiritual value to people in need of hope.
Every Wednesday morning on PraisePix, we have a community prayer where we encourage thousands of our followers to leave prayer requests in the comment section for 24 hours and lift up each other’s petitions to Christ. This is a unique way to have people praying for one other all over the world and build relationships with our community online.
Be still and know that I am God.
One of the new initiatives we began on PraisePix is providing daily devotions to people online who are seeking to build deeper and more meaningful relationships with Christ. The link in our bio allows anyone to voluntarily sign up using their email address for daily inspirational messages. If you are a Christian writer, blogger, vlogger, or content creator, please contact me if you would like to get involved in this new online ministry. It will be a blessing!
God has given each one of us an enormous opportunity to spread the gospel online through social media. Facebook recently released data revealing over 2 billion active monthly users on their platform. People from all over the world are in desperate need of the hope and peace that comes from knowing and believing in the grace of our resurrected Savior. In March, PraisePix reached over 100,000 worldwide engagements and below is a detailed list of the top countries and cities reached in numerical order as reported by Sprout Social:
Knowing your audience and understanding who you are trying to reach plays an important role in creating the type of content that should be allocated to reach them effectively. The figure below shows the percentages of age groups viewing the content on PraisePix and an average of daily engagements:
Jesus said, 'And Surely I am with you always, even to the very end.'
THE GREAT COMMISSION
If you have experienced the humbling joy of receiving salvation, you understand the price that Jesus paid for our freedom from sin. By committing our time to the cause of Christ, we never know how one image online can reach someone in the moment when they need it the most. Matthew 18:19 says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” Psalms 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”
Through faith, action, and Biblical principles, I believe we can reach as many people as God allows to awaken their faith and let others know that Jesus is coming again!