Have you ever found yourself lost in a Pinterest rabbit hole, trying to figure out Instagram?
I think it’s safe to say that you are not alone.
The key to being successful with Instagram as a Christian blogger is to realize that we will use it a bit differently than bloggers in most other niches.
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Using Instagram as a Christian Blogger
Many of us Christian bloggers have had to resort to beauty bloggers and food bloggers and others on Pinterest to try to figure out how to make Instagram work for us.
That’s not hating on food bloggers or beauty bloggers. The thing is, Instagram can’t work for us Christian bloggers the same way it works for everyone else. Just like a beauty blogger and a food blogger don’t do Instagram the same way, neither should we.
Here are 7 unique ways for Christian bloggers to use Instagram for their ministry for you to start considering today.
Honor Through Stories
No matter what type of ministry you are in, a huge part of ministry is honor. It should be no different than for the Christian blogging ministry.
Honor is not simply “promoting other people”. Instead, honor is more of recognizing that we are part of a bigger ministry and if we work together we can help share the Gospel. By elevating each other, we all win on the digital mission field.
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10
Someone may have the same niche as you and could be seen as “competition”. Promote them anyways. People don’t follow you because you are the only blogger that talks about ______, people follow you because of your story and how you talk about _________.
For example, I follow two different bloggers that talk about inspiration and motivation. Just because I found another website that talked about inspiration I didn’t stop reading the first website- now I just have double the amount of information from two very different people!
An amazing way to honor people is through Instagram stories. If you read an Instagram post that you love, choose the option to share it to your story and tag the person while talking about why it is an awesome post. It is a great way to build relationships and help get the message of Jesus out to the world.
I know you’re about to. You saw the word “live” and said nooooo way, and went to scroll on to the other options.
Please hear my experience before you scroll past lives because you feel that you are not ready for that step yet (or ever).
I was the same way. I spent a good fifteen years of my life with a terrible speech impediment, and I still notice that speech impediment some days that I do lives when I am tired and not focused on how I speak. I see the scar that creates a droopy double chin near my neck. I notice my skin tags, and my weird line of birthmarks that looks like the little dipper on the side of my face. And I never have time to do my eyebrows so I always feel like a mess. (Not a classy hot mess, just a mess).
I am 100 pounds overweight (unless you ask my doctor, then I’m 150 pounds overweight) and have probably the lowest self-esteem there is out there.
Yet, two things happened when I did my first Instagram live that let me know that no matter what I think of myself, God thinks more important things.
The first thing that happened was my daughter threw up on me during the Instagram live.
The second thing that happened to me was that I learned that Instagram does not just share my live with my followers. It also shares it with other people that are online during the same time, even if there is no mutual following of each other.
That meant an online community that didn’t know Jesus saw this Christian girl try to talk about Jesus just to have her daughter throw up on her, and were most likely waiting to see how she would react. Would I freak out? Would I throw up in response? Would I still talk about Jesus?
And guess what I did?
I accidentally swore. I swore out of surprise, but I definitely dropped a word I shouldn’t have.
And then I apologized, moved the camera up so no one could see the throw up, and kept on going.
And you know what happened later that day? Out of the ten people that watched it live, three people messaged me and thanked me for being real. One of them said it was hard to find “real Christians” online.
Real Christians are everywhere online though. Apparently, we just aren’t being candid enough.
We can break that with Instagram lives.
We have an opportunity to reach people that are already there. We don’t need to seek them out with hashtags and algorithms. We simply show up, be real, and talk about Jesus.
Please take some time and pray to God to see how He made be able to speak through you to someone who needs to hear about Jesus.
Similar to Instagram lives, there is Instagram IGTV.
Bonus Tip: After you go live, immediately hit the “save” button before anything else. That will save the whole video to your camera roll, and give you options to re-purpose it. One of the places where you can re-show it is IGTV.
IGTV is in a nutshell Instagram trying to take over YouTube. It allows videos at a longer and larger scale, and it is an amazing way to get Jesus all over the Internet.
If you create a video, it will automatically post a “preview” as a post (and we know that videos give us 4x the amount of reach as static posts do!), and it will direct your audience to click for more.
Make sure you are creative with titles and your cover photo. For example, I have one about how God was trying to speak to me at the end of 2019. Instead of putting something like “God’s message to me in 2019” I wrote “Jesus stole my cellphone.” Which one do you think is going to grab the attention of a nonbeliever more?
Freebies, freebies, freebies!
Who can resist an awesome item that is free?
Make sure you have an option for a freebie on Instagram for your Instagram community. You can put it in your bio link with an explanation of it in your bio.
The only issue is, since bloggers and websites everywhere are being told to provide something for free in exchange for email subscribers, we are almost conditioned to clicking out of pop-ups and scrolling through offers without even considering it.
To use Instagram as a funnel to subscribers, make sure it is a freebie that your subscribers will want. To do this, study some of your most loyal fans on Instagram. I call this Christian insta-stalking. (Just kidding). See what they seem to talk about the most, worry about the most, what activities they do the most, etc. Once you get to know your top people, you may be able to come up with a free printable, guide, or book that is specifically for them.
Using Popular Hashtags But With a Jesus Message
A lot of times we try to find perfect Christian hashtags. That is awesome, and it’s definitely something I encourage. I have gathered over 200+ Christian hashtags by category for those who want to use Christian hashtags.
However, I don’t recommend only using Christian hashtags. Try using popular hashtags but incorporate your message about Jesus in it. This will take your Christian Instagram to a whole new level by consistently and constantly reaching new people that may have not heard your message yet.
Some examples would be:
- Use hashtags that are specific for days of the week. (Here is a whole list just for Tuesday to get you started!)
- Use “trending” hashtags that you are seeing other people using depending on the season, what is going on in the world, etc.
Bonus Tip: Make sure you are never using the same hashtags a few days in a row, Instagram considers that spam-like behavior and may limit your reach.
Sometimes doing what others are doing on social media is okay- but adding a Christian message to it is where we get to differ compared to other bloggers on Instagram.
Just like we talked about above with IGTV, re-purposing content will save you so much time. You may feel like you are repetitive, but most of your community doesn’t follow you on every social media channel there is.
There are several ways you can re-purpose other content to use for Instagram:
- If you have written a blog post, create an IGTV video just talking about your post. You don’t have to say “my post is about……” just repackage it for your Insta-community that may not go to your blog.
- Copy and paste 1-3 sentences that can stand alone from your blog and add a graphic- voila you have an Instagram post!
- Save every post in a document, and put a category next to it. If you post every day, next year you will have 365 posts to repurpose and change up!
Related: Social Media Strategy Tips: 4 Ways to use Social Media to grow your Christian Blog
Be Real in an Insta-perfect world
Okay, this may have been covered in the whole throw-up situation (if you missed that, scroll back up to Instagram Lives). But the days of trying to get the perfect Insta-shot is rapidly declining.
Yes, you still see those on your feed, and that’s okay. You will, however, continue to see the decline.
Think of your avatar and your audience. Are they the type of people that want to see perfection on Instagram? Or do they want to see someone real?
Create a Solid Social Media Plan
Once you start trying out different things with social media, you can easily fall into a massive time-suck of non-productive work. Instead of just “winging it” on what to post and when or just spending endless hours on your favorite platform promoting your blog, it is important that you also post other content to engage your audience.
But that doesn't mean you need to be consumed with social media every single day!
When you plan and schedule out your social media content, you will have better engagement AND you will have more time to focus on writing more blog content and other more productive tasks.
The best resource to help you in planning out your content for your social media channels is the Social Media Content Creation for Christian Writers & Bloggers E-book by Christian social media guru – Jessie Synan.
This tool is more than an e-book because explains exactly HOW to create social media for Facebook and Instagram with ease (and as efficiently as possible!) And the best part is that it teaches you how to accomplish this in three hours or less each month!
Bonus Tip: Forget the numbers, focus on the ONE
The days of following and unfollowing are over. If you have a numeric goal for Instagram, make sure you take some time to really think about the why behind that numeric goal.
Instagram is about creating a community. That community is created one person at a time. If we can give one person God’s word, isn’t that enough?
Instead of being daunted by numbers, approach it slowly with focusing on engaging with one person at a time. You will be amazed by the relationships you make!
Now it’s your turn- what are your Instagram goals, and how can you approach them differently as a Christian blogger?