We love getting social at VOUS. From the very beginning, social media has been such an integral part of our communications strategy. It keeps the VOUS Church community connected throughout the week while we’re not physically together. It also serves as a great way for people in our local community to discover us.
Instagram in particular has been a game changer. Through a little bit of trial and error, we’ve compiled a list of seven tips that we believe will help you achieve some good grammin’.
#1. Know your audience
Although it’d be a dream come true for your youth pastor, if the median age in your church is 52, it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to to tell your audience that worship night “issa vibe” or that the 6PM service is “gonna be lit.” Know your audience and use language that will resonate with them.
It’s also important to know that each platform has its own median age. For example, the average active user on Facebook is 41 years old, and 90% of Instagram’s audience is under 35 years old. These stats give us a little more flexibility in how we communicate on each platform. As a general rule of thumb, always keep your target audience in mind.
#2: Consistency is key
In any relationship, people want to know what to expect from you. They want to know that they can rely on specific responses and behavior from you. It puts people at ease and paves the way for a genuine and organic connection. The same rings true for social media. Here are a few areas it’s important to be consistent in.
Be consistent with your voice
Your cadence, language, and tone should all be consistent and well thought out. A good place to start when developing this voice, would be to reference the language that’s ingrained within the culture of your organization.
Here are some questions to think of to help you get started:
- What are our values and how do we reflect them with the things we say in the digital realm?
- What are some phrases that we say or hear often in our church culture?
- What are some things we DON’T say?
- Do we use casual language laced with pop-culture references? Or, is our language a little more formal?
- Who are we speaking to (who’s your target audience?)
At VOUS, we use positive, inclusive, and inviting language that lets people know they are loved, and have a home, because people are our heart. We honor servant leaders through our social media platforms, for their dedication and hard work, because honor is our calling.
Your online voice is just an extension of who you really are, so they should reflect the values you live out.
Be consistent with your aesthetic
Being consistent with your aesthetic is always crucial to getting peak engagement. The data shows us that editing your Instagram photos and videos can increase engagement by more than 45 percent. It’s always best to decide upfront, what your photo editing style will be, and stick to that style so your Instagram feed is cohesive. We’ll get more into detail about your Instagram feed a bit later, but here are a few apps that have robust editing features that can mean the difference between an amateur or professional result.
Be consistent with the details
“It’s all in the details!” We’ve all heard it before, but it’s surprisingly true! The details are the difference between something that’s good and something that’s excellent. So, what exactly are the “details” in this context?
Here are some examples:
- Do you write your hashtags #inalllowercase or do you #CapitalizeTheFirstLetterOfEachWord?
- Do you write 7:00AM or 7AM?
Again, these may seem like small details, but in the grand scheme of things, they make a huge difference. A good way to ensure consistency is to create a style guide for all digital and print communications. A style guide provides clear direction for all of your church’s messaging and makes sure all communications teams are on the same page.
Be consistent with post frequency
Make it a point to post at least once a day, Monday – Saturday, and multiply your efforts on Sunday. Instagram’s algorithm gives favor to accounts who post consistently. Do this and your reach and overall online presence will be increased dramatically.
#3: Your IG feed is your first impression
Researchers say it takes only 1/10th of a second for the human brain to experience and store a first impression. It just so happens that the very first thing someone will see when they look at your Instagram account is your feed. To create a consistent feed, you need to view your Instagram as a whole rather than as separate photos. How your pictures look together is equally important as how they look by themselves. Being intentional about how your images look makes for a more visually appealing social media presence that lends you more credibility.
Here are some quick tips to make sure you’re leaving the best first impression:
Choose photos that show human emotion
Passion, love, joy, excitement, wonder. These are all the emotions that we want people to connect to our church. When you post images that represent emotion, you pull the viewer into the scene and evoke that same emotion from them. Taking candid photos of genuine expressions of emotion is a great place to start.
Don’t try to stage what’s supposed to be a candid moment. It takes the magic out of the picture. Have fun with this! There are so many great opportunities to capture these moments during worship or in between services while people socialize with one another.
Embrace empty space
When you have a lot of busy photos near each other, it can be good to throw in a quieter photo or two of just the subject against a solid color background. This breaks up the busyness and can add a nice pop of color to your overall feed.
Choose photos with colors that complement each other
When planning what backgrounds you’ll use, try to use colors that complement each other. This creates a beautifully curated feed that exemplifies intentionality at its finest.
#4. Plan & prepare
We believe that expectation leads to preparation. Planning a carefully curated feed is the IT factor when it comes to good grammin’. Strong communication with your photo team is essential for getting the best result possible. Two important tools to equip your photo team for success are:
- A shotlist of the photos that need to be taken to promote upcoming events
- A mood board with references that show how to execute those photos
If you know what events are coming up in the life of your church for the next couple of weeks, spend some time laying those captions out in a spreadsheet. Your future self will thank you.
Planning your feed
Earlier we mentioned the importance of looking at your IG feed from a holistic perspective. One way to figure out if certain photos will clash or will look good together is by creating a mock feed. There are a couple of ways to make this happen.
- Create a private IG account.
- Use an app that lets you plan out your content in advance. A great free one is called UNUM.
Whichever method you decide, you’ll immediately feel more in control of your feed’s aesthetic if you plan it beforehand.
#5. Respond and engage to questions and comments regularly (community management)
This is the social aspect of social media. Interestingly enough, it’s often the part that’s forgotten. After we publish a post, it’s easy to just wipe the sweat off our brow and move on to the next task (totally exaggerating, but sometimes it’s true.)
Instead of completely forgetting about it, let’s make it a point to check back periodically (maybe every 30 minutes or so) and respond to any comments or DMs that come through. You’ll be surprised how far simply “liking” a comment will go. It shows that you value and appreciate the people who are engaging with your content.
There’s another practical reason why we should always be mindful of the comments and direct messages coming through. Many times, people have legitimate questions regarding service times, directions, or any last-minute changes that may have been made to regular scheduling. Imagine if someone misses out on a midweek gathering because of a failure to respond to their question on social media. Let’s commit to being proactive in engaging our online community.
#6. Measure, then do more of what works.
There are so many great insights to be gained from social media, but they’re impossible to come by if you don’t dive into the analytics. A few insights you can learn from analytics are:
- The type of content that gets the most engagement from your audience
- The best times to post to yield the most engagement
- The content that isn’t getting the attention of your audience
Having these types of insights are so valuable when deciding what type of content to create. You’ll be surprised how a few tweaks could send your engagement levels into overdrive.
#7. Use IG Stories
Over 200 million Instagrammers use Instagram Stories daily, and one in five stories receive a direct message from a viewer. This gives you the perfect opportunity to engage with your audience and continue to build that relationship. It also serves as a great way in keeping your church “top of mind” by staying active and being visible to your audience.
Here are some tips to get your IG Story game strong:
Use a storyboard
In order to tell a clear and cohesive story, it’s important to plan ahead and make sure you create an outline of the day. This outline should include the theme of your story and the times to capture each individual shot. This simple task will make a world of difference. Storyboarding will make it evident to your audience that each shot is intentional rather than a random compilation of moments that don’t flow together.
Mix in graphics
Graphics are a great way to keep a logical flow in the story and break up different parts of the story into segments. Although not always necessary, when you transition into a new setting or context, you may want to consider using a graphic to communicate that change of environment.
Tip: The dimensions of an IG Story graphic are 1080 x 1920.
Show behind-the-scenes content
To get the most out of IG Stories, capture content that your viewers wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else. Engage with the worship team backstage. Ask your pastor to share a word of encouragement. Show some of the behind-the-scenes production elements. People LOVE this type of content because it shows them a point of view that they don’t get to see on a regular basis.
Engage with people in your church
This is where reality and the digital world collide. Personally, we feel this is one of the most exciting elements of IG stories — the opportunity in engaging with people. Be intentional about interacting with people in your lobby or courtyard. Show them having fun while serving. Ask people to share their story. Not only does this help create a fun and welcoming environment in your church, it also shows your digital audience the culture at your church which could very well entice new people to walk through the doors.
If you’re interested in learning more about social media, join us tonight for Creative Night at VOUS HQ. We can’t wait to hang with you!
Social Media Team Training
Wednesday, July 12
4004 NW 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33127