Unlock Free Powerful Instagram Tools for Your Church

Instagram is a popular, and still mostly positive, social media network. It features vibrant photos, almost none of the clutter that weigh down other networks, and specializes in capturing and interacting with daily life.

These facets have made Instagram a much coveted social network for marketers — including churches and campus ministries. However, the fact that Instagram never catered to organizations, businesses, or brands meant that there were many minor annoyances. No analytics, no contact button, no clickable calls to action, no boosting of posts.

That all is changing this summer with the introduction of business profiles for Instagram. Over the past couple of months, parent company Facebook has been implementing some changes that will be familiar to Facebook users. Let’s dive into the changes, the implications, and how you can access these powerful tools for your church or campus ministry.

What’s Changing?

The biggest change for users is the switch from a chronological timeline to an algorithmic timeline announced back in March. Like on Facebook, Instagram will now try to determine what you want to see and show you more of that.

Then in June, Instagram announced the introduction of business accounts. Converting to a business profile is free, but it does require you to have and connect to your organization’s Facebook page. Your ministry should already have one of these — if not, you should be doing that first anyway.

Business profiles offer the following new and important features:

  • Contact Options. This is perhaps the most practically important for a ministry. Previously, a website address or any contact info had to go in the bio — this was the only place where link work on Instagram. Now, your website address is visible and clickable, and a “Contact” button appears on your profile which allows users to email, call, or get directions.
  • Analytics. Great posts that drive engagements (likes and comments) will always perform the best. However, analytics allow you to be smarter and more strategic. You will now see how many times a post has been seen, how many unique accounts saw your post, how many times someone went to your website from Instagram, as well as information about your followers including demographics and when they are typically on Instagram. You can see general insights from your profile, or you can tap “view insights” from an individual post.
  • Promotion tools. This feature isn’t free, but if it is as effective as advertising and post boosting has been on Facebook, it will be well worth the money. Any post can be promoted. It allows you to create a call to action button, as well as select your audience, budget, and duration.

Something to Consider

When a social network starts to decide who sees what, it is almost always organizations that get affected. First, people don’t like being advertised to — or at least advertised to poorly — so Facebook reduces organizational reach every once in a while to try and keep it feeling like a place for friends and family. But let’s be honest — it also creates a “pay to be seen” income opportunity.

By converting your church account to a business profile, you gain access to powerful tools, but you also self-identify as an account that wants to be seen by specific people. There is a always a chance that this means your reach will go down — especially anytime the algorithm is changed.

If you have had success with a standard profile on Instagram or you don’t have interest in these new features, then keeping things the way they are seems like the way to go.

However, if you see Instagram as a powerful and effective tool for reaching people you want to connect with, and you’re willing to spend a little money on occasion, this seems like a very reasonable trade-off.

How Do I Get Started?

To convert your account to a business account, follow these steps:

  1. Tap your profile image in the bottom right.
  2. Tap the gear icon in the top right.
  3. Under “Account,” select “Switch to Business Profile.”
  4. You will then be asked to sign-in on Facebook and connect your organization’s Facebook page.
  5. You will then be asked to put in at least one of the following: email address, phone number, or street address.
  6. Once completed, your profile will now feature the website address from your Facebook page, a contact button with the information you just entered, and an analytics icon at the top next to the gear icon.

As noted earlier, advertising and boosting posts on Facebook are generally accepted to be money well spent. They have powerful targeting tools, and they bring many of them over to Instagram. Any post can be promoted by going to the individual post and tapping “promote” under the image.

You are then given two options: “Visit your website” or “Call or visit your business.” Both options allow you to customize the call to action button, as well as define your audience, budget, and duration for the promotion.

The “Visit your website” call to action button has the following button text options:

  • Learn More
  • Watch More
  • Shop Now
  • Book Now
  • Sign Up
  • Contact Us

The “Call or visit your business” call to action button has the following button text options:

  • Get Directions
  • Call Now

When defining your audience, you can allow Instagram to build a custom audience, or you can set the following parameters:

  • “Visit your website” allows you to target location by city, state, or country.
  • “Call or visit your business” allows you to target location by city or state, or you can set a specific radius around your current location or a specific street address.
  • Age – with minimum and maximum sliders going from 13 to 65+
  • Gender

When setting your budget, it estimates how many more views the post will receive for the amount of money you have selected. You can spend as little as $7 for a campaign.

When setting the duration, you define the number of days you want the post promoted. Instagram notes that you can pause the campaign at any time. It also divides the total budget by the number of days, so if the post/campaign just isn’t working, you can cut it short both time and budget-wise.

Have you had any success with Instagram’s new business profile features? Do you have anything you’d like to see them roll out in the future (like scheduled posts!)? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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