Virtually all of my professional experience comes from the non-profit world, and a good chunk of that comes from work in the church. Due to my religious convictions, I truly believe that the Christian church has the most timely and important message the world could ever hear. Nothing is more relevant.
You see, while the church (and other non-profits like it) has a very timely message, it tends to lag behind the times when it comes to the methods it uses to get its message out there. One of the more puzzling deficiencies I’ve seen in non-profits has been in the area of Instagram.
For those who have been living under a rock, Instagram is a ubiquitous, wildly popular photo-blogging app. What’s photo-blogging? Let’s break it down:
- Blog is short for web log. You’re reading a blog right now. It’s literally an Online log of whatever the author wants to log.
- Blogs are kind of old-schoool now. They’ve been around for years, but they’re still part of our digital lives.
- A photo-blog is a log where information is communicated through photos.
Instagram by the Numbers
If you’re one of the people who needed all of the explanation above, you may also be unaware of just how pervasive Instagram is. Here are some stats (which I found here: https://econsultancy.com/blog/65939-20-instagram-stats-marketers-need-to-know/):
- Instagram has 300 million monthly active users (if it were a country, it would be the 4th largest in the world!)
- 30 billion photos have been shared on Instagram
- On average, there are 70 million posts and 2.5 billion “likes” on Instagram (for the uninitiated, a “like” is exactly what it sounds like – a way to show you like the photo)
- The average Instagram user spends 21 minutes on the app each day
- 41% of Instagram users are age 16 to 24. 35% are age 24 to 35.
- In the second quarter of 2014, 20% of Internet users age 16 to 64 had an Instagram account. That number was only at 15% the previous year.
If you didn’t know before, Instagram is a big deal. For years I’ve been puzzled as to why non-profits – especially churches – aren’t taking advantage of this amazing app.
Why You Need Instagram Now
As I said above, churches, sadly, tend to be behind the curve when it comes to these things. Looking up a church on Facebook still makes me nervous because many churches either aren’t using Facebook well or aren’t using it at all. Facebook, like blogging, is old school, and we haven’t even gotten there yet. Maybe asking churches to leap-frog to Instagram is too much. Still, consider the following motivations that churches should have for making the jump:
- Instagram is FREE!
- Instagram is easy. You take or select a picture. You post it. People like it. The end.
- Bulletins, radio ads, and billboards cost money. Instagram is FREE!
- Instagram has 300 million active users. Most churches don’t even have 300 active members (that last number isn’t a real stat, but we all know its’s true)
- Churches often struggle to reach young people. 76% of the people on Instagram are age 16 to 35.
- Also, 76% of 300 million is bigger than most churches.
- Churches don’t have money. INSTAGRAM IS FREE!!!
Why You Might Think I’m Crazy
OK, everyone should see the benefit by now. Here’s what I think may be some reasons a church or other non-profit might resist using Instagram:
- “What’s the point?” A church leader, especially one who don’t use Instagram, might not see how posting pictures is going to minister to anyone in a meaningful way.
- “Don’t you need a phone to use Instagram?” The logistics around an Instagram account can be challenging for non-profit organizations because you can’t post from a computer.
- “Isn’t there a lot of inappropriate stuff on Instagram? Do I really want to be a part of that?”
No pastor wantsMost pastors don’t want to align themselves with sinful activity.
- “Our members aren’t using Instagram.” Some may feel this is a great tool, but just not for their congregation or core constituents.
- “We don’t have a marketing staff.” Churches, charities, and other non-profit organizations may feel they don’t have the staff hours needed to appropriately maintain Instagram and other social media accounts.
These are all real concerns. I don’t have complete answers for any of them, but I do have some ideas – based on my own successes and failures with Instagram – for each of these areas. Watch this space for more to come…