15 Ways Instagram Can Grow Your Audience Online and In-Person

Growing your church shouldn’t have to break your budget. That’s why using Instagram growth to power your church’s overall growth is a great option.

Outside of ads, Instagram is free to use. Plus, it’s owned by Facebook, meaning it’s easy to connect the two platforms for a more cohesive social media strategy.

Instagram isn’t just a bunch of pretty pictures, though. The platform provides a variety of ways to grow your audience online and increase new visitors to your church.

1. Increase Awareness

As of 2020, Instagram has over a billion monthly active users, with 500 million using the platform daily. Plus, 65% of users are between 18 and 34. Using Instagram immediately helps increase awareness of your church, especially among a younger audience.

If you’re trying to reach more teens, you should also know that 73% say Instagram is one of the best ways for brands, including nonprofits like your church, to reach them. The first step in using Instagram growth to your church’s advantage is to simply make people aware of you.

Once you get their attention, even if they’re not sure what they believe in, they’ll continue thinking about the message you sent. Whether it’s scripture, an encouraging word or something amazing your church is involved in, it’ll stick with the user.

Then, if you continue posting great content, they’ll come back. What started as someone just discovering your church turns into a regular follower and maybe even an in-person visitor if they live nearby.

2. Reach Out During The Week

One of the best ways to increase engagement and grow your church is to reach out during the week. Keeping a connection helps people stay strong as they encounter various challenges throughout the week. Plus, it makes them more likely to come back each week.

Make your members and online followers feel like church isn’t just something that happens on Sunday. Make it a week long feeling and experience.

Consider posting content related to your latest sermon or tease your upcoming one. Post graphical scripture to catch attention and help people who need to see it.

Remember, staying in contact is important. Lead your flock, even if they’re not in the same room with you.

3. Expand Reach With Hashtags

Hashtags are the most powerful tool for Instagram growth. Outside of people sharing your content, this is one of the top ways your church gets found. It’s also how you attract more people to posts talking about upcoming events and sermons.

Using the right hashtags leads to more people checking out your posts, viewing your live stream and recordings, coming to visit your church in person and more.

Of course, mastering hashtags takes time, especially with so many to pick from, including creating your very own. It’s well worth reading Hootsuite’s guide to hashtags to fully understand how they work, when to use them and how many to use at once.

4. Better Understand Your Audience

What kind of content do your followers like best? To really grow your audience online and in your church, you have to post content they’ll like. Luckily, Instagram helps you out with this.

When you check out who’s following you, you also get to see more about the type of posts and accounts they follow and interact with. Have a lot of followers into rock music? Consider posting about the impact Christian rock bands are having and even post a favorite line from a song.

The more you discover about what your audience wants, it’s easier to give them that with your own posts. This means more engagement and sharing.

5. Partner With Other Christian Leaders

When you’re just starting out on Instagram, you don’t really have any growth to play off of. That’s why you need to partner with other Christian leaders. They already have followings. Use their Instagram growth to start growing your own account and church.

Start by following Christian leaders and other churches that you like. Comment on their posts and share your favorites with your audience. You can even contact them for pointers.

Pay close attention to any hashtag contests or campaigns they might run. During these, Christian leaders may pick so many winners to highlight on their own account. Of course, this leads right back to your church if you win.

Even just participating using the specific hashtags gets you attention from the leader’s followers. Plus, it’s fun to do.

Or, you can just check out what other Christian leaders are doing. Gain inspiration to attract more followers and grow your church. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these great lists of churches who are crushing it on Instagram:

6. Make Scripture Beautiful

Instagram is all about visuals. This means a text-based post with scripture won’t work at all. Instead, create your own church graphics and make scripture beautiful.

Pick a beautiful background image and overlay it with an easy to read font with your scripture. You can add the scripture in the post description too, just in case anyone has a hard time reading it in the image.

Too often, people think you have to take actual photos to use Instagram. However, any image that doesn’t violate the terms of service are okay. Just try looking for “quotes” and you’ll see just how often text is posted. It’s just a much more engaging form of the text.

Consider doing themes each week or month. You can even post for men, women, teens, kids, etc.

By posting beautiful scripture consistently, you’ll grow your followers. Plus, you’ll show users how faith applies to their daily lives. This brings in more followers and in-church visitors.

7. Showcase Your Personality

Many people might be checking out your church’s Instagram just to figure out what kind of church you are. Showcase who you really are.

Use Instagram growth to introduce new people to your church. Show them you know how to have fun. Show them that you truly care about your members and followers.

No one wants to go to a church with no real personality. Help users see what your church is all about so they get a sense of what to expect if they visit in person.

8. Share Your Stories

Instagram Stories help your church get noticed. These stand out from other posts and are only available for 24 hours. Posting stories regularly is also a great way to get followers to keep coming back. This feature is a must when you’re using Instagram.

Use Instagram Stories to help grow your audience online and off by literally telling stories. At least several times a week, feature a quick story about a member, volunteer, area your church has helped, online followers finding God and more.

You can also turn Stories into permanent posts if you want. Use a custom hashtag such as “churchnamestories.” Then, people know what to look for to find all the stories at one time.

9. Let Followers Participate

Let’s go back to hashtags for a moment. Hashtags aren’t just a way for people to find your account and posts. They’re also the perfect way to let your followers participate. The more you involve them, the more likely they are to continue following you, checking out your church’s website, viewing your other online content and even visiting in person.

There are a variety of ways to get your followers more involved. Instead of just posting images, encourage your followers to add their own.

A popular campaign/marketing strategy on Instagram is to ask followers and anyone else who wants to participate to take a certain kind of picture and post it using a custom hashtag.

For example, you might have a campaign called Worshiping Together At Home. Followers then take a picture of themselves worshiping at home. You can then create collages from all those posts as a follow up to the campaign.

You can also ask people to contribute their stories or how their lives changed after finding God. Seeing the stories from others helps those who are uncertain find their way.

10. Show What Your Church Is Made Of

You’re more than just sermons. You’re a family of people who worship together. Show this. Take your followers behind the scenes.

This helps people understand everything your church does beyond just sermons and holiday events. Show your volunteers hard at work. Snap a picture of the pastor working hard on their sermon. If parents are okay with it, show your youth ministry playing games while learning God’s word.

Giving that look behind the scenes, you further show your church’s personality and what you’re all about. This helps people decide if you’re the right church for them.

11. Embrace User Generated Content

User generated content isn’t new, but many brands still aren’t embracing it. Maximize Instagram growth for your church by letting users create unique content for your church.

As the name implies, user generated content is content others create, but it ties back to your church. When you create a custom hashtag for your followers to participate, this is letting users create content for you.

While some major brands are finding huge success with this strategy, you don’t need to be big or have a big budget. Just get creative.

Create a variety of campaigns. Give people incentive to participate. For instance, feature your favorite content in Instagram Stories each week. Or, provide something free, like a special collection of Bible studies.

12. Use Powerful Captions

While Instagram is mainly visual, text plays a bigger part than you might expect. With every post, you get to add a caption. Use this space to create a powerful caption that further moves viewers to action.

You might post scripture with a caption that shows how it applies today. Or, encourage people to make a difference in someone else’s life with a post of a volunteer helping others.

You don’t have much space for captions, but make the most of this space. Think of it as having a few sentences to make a major impact in someone’s life. It might not impact everyone, but if it impacts one you’ve done a great job.

Plus, when you make that impact, those people are more likely to share your posts and follow you.

13. Promote With Instagram Ads

While everything else on this list is free, the quickest way to put Instagram growth to work for you is to use Instagram ads. You’ll need a Facebook account to manage them since Facebook owns Instagram.

The process for both works similarly. The main reason to use ads is when you’re trying to grow your Instagram following faster. Or, you’re promoting something special, like an upcoming event or online sermon series.

You don’t need to rely on ads all the time, but using them will increase your following. They’ll also help you reach the right demographic to grow your in-person church attendance.

14. Tease Upcoming Sermons And Events

Why should someone come to church the next week? Maybe the past week’s sermon didn’t really resonate. That’s okay. You’re not going to be able to please everyone all the time.

So, tease your upcoming sermons and events to make people want to keep coming back. This includes online followers and your church members. People looking for a new church might see the teasers and realize this is exactly the type of sermon or event they’ve been waiting for.

15. Become A Source Of Encouragement

Many people look to church as a light in the darkness. Become that light. Turn your Instagram account into a source of encouragement. Post motivational quotes, inspiring scripture, stories of hope and love and so much more.

Become that positive place online that people turn to. Even if they’re not Christian, your messages may still make a positive impact on them.

This increases your Instagram followers by encouraging people to share inspiring posts. It also gets more people to check out more of what you have online, like your church website, and brings more people into your church.

While Instagram growth helps your church grow, a church website is still the central online home for your church. Contact us today to create the perfect home for your church online.

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