Now that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook are those 55 years and older, younger people are spending their time on other social media platforms, particularly Instagram.
Note, this does not mean they have entirely abandoned Facebook, most still have accounts, often just to keep up with their grandparents (and pastors!).
But if you want to reach young people, it’s a good idea to check out Instagram. Certainly those who work with youth should have an account and there are even ways a congregation can use Instagram to connect.
What is Instagram? Instagram is a photo and video sharing app for mobile devices. (You can browse Instagram from a computer but you cannot upload photos). You can follow people as on Twitter and their posts will show up on your feed. It is different than Facebook and Twitter in that you cannot share or retweet posts. But you can like them. Many people like this because they feel they have a little more control over what they share.
You can connect your Instagram account to your Facebook and Twitter accounts so that what you share on Instagram is shared on Facebook and Twitter. Once, there, those posts can be shared and retweeted.
So how can you use Instagram in the congregation?
Promote and advertise events
It doesn’t have to be fancy. Look how Kristin Johnson, Director of Youth and Family, at St. Petri in Story City reminded kids of an upcoming event.
She just posted a photo of a sign. But it will show up in their feed and remind them.
Use Hashtags for church events and encourage people to take selfies and posts using the hashtag.
Take photos of preparations for events (setting the tables for a dinner, for example) and post them with a reminder. Post photos of the church decorated for the season.
Post photos of people working around the church during the week people don’t ordinarily see, like assembling the newsletter, working on the grounds, practicing the organ.
Post inspirational and or amusing memes (A meme is an image with a saying on it that people share.) Don’t overdo these. Keep it classy.
You can find apps to make your own or share ones you see. Picmonkey.com is a free online photo editing site that allows you to add text to photos.
Preview or review the sermon In this photo I took a line from my sermon and put it on a photo.
You can also post short videos Video the Sunday school class singing in church and post that. Or the children’s sermon.
Remember, like any social media platform, make sure you are not simply using the media to announce and publicize.
Follow back those who follow you. Be sure to like and comment on what they share. Social media is relational. That’s why we call it “social”.
Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA