We’re always looking for ways to leverage technology for our ministries. It’s about finding a way to bridge the gap between where students hang out and the truth we find in Christ. Over the past year, we have started to utilize Instagram as a useful tool to make that bridge happen.
WHY USE INSTAGRAM FOR MINISTRY?
Because it’s where students hang out online! This wave of technology should change the way we approach ministry. If we are going to continue to reach students, we need to also occupy this space.
We can and need to be a light in these places, and we can be strategic about it.
Here’s some thoughts and ideas of how to let Instagram work for your ministry.
(WHAT IS INSTAGRAM? Check out this link to learn about what it is and how to get started: A Beginners Guide to Instagram.)
1. POST CONTENT
Before you push to get followers, get some pictures loaded. Snap pictures of what you do, some inspiring scripture, or some stuff that is just funny. When you post content, don’t make this just an online bulletin board, create your content as something students would actually want to know, need to know, or should desire to know.
2. BUILD AN AUDIENCE
To be effective online, you need to have followers. During your regular meeting times, promote your Instagram account. Push your students to follow you. Be creative and make it fun. For example: In the middle of your game time – say, “First _____ (number) of people to follow us on Instagram from your team gets an extra point.”
Be cautious with this step. As you can get easily consumed by numbers. When I say build a following, this is just a starting point to create momentum.
3. CREATE ENGAGING CONTENT
Start posting better content. Start getting likes and comments. Your account shouldn’t become just an online bulletin board with info overload. Instead, post things that will cause an interaction.
For example, we love having fun, so have fun. We did one of those, “If this picture gets ___ likes, then we will dump an entire bottle of water on someones head. Comment which staff person you want to make this happen.”
4. GET YOUR STUDENTS ENGAGED
NEXT LEVEL! Get your students to post on your behalf – and no, I don’t mean on your account. I mean, get them posting on their account of your events, small groups, fun times, and moments that will mean something. Every time they post a picture of what you have going on, they are promoting your stuff to their audience!
They are marketing for you. You do a baptism night, a students snaps a picture on their own account and says how meaningful it was that their friend got baptized. Engagement! God gets the glory!
5. PROMOTE YOUR HASHTAG
Lastly, to make #4 a success, create a common hashtag for your ministry. Make it easy! We decided to create our hashtag the exact same as our Instagram name. Every time we ask students to post a picture, we ask them to use the hashtag!
We also do something in our programming called The Instagram Minute. We give them 1 mintue to take a picture and post it using our hashtag. Once you start doing this, students will start to explore the hashtag.
If you’re trying to use Instagram in your ministry, keep doing what you do. Don’t think of Instagram as an overwhelming task, but see it as a way to work for you!