E113 - Engaging Your Audience Through Instagram Stories


 Joanna: There's some amazing new stuff on Instagram Stories right now that is going to help you connect with people, drive engagement and get to know your audience in a meaningful way. We're going to talk about it.

Joanna: James, you've had some success recently or you've learned some interesting stuff as you've been using some new tools and Instagram Stories with your audience. I want to talk more about that want to get in your head today.

James: Well I definitely noticed that people are engaging more and more with Instagram Stories and I think they're just way better because because it's the interactive part that's built in now. So like with Visually Media Church in general we'll get anywhere from 60 to 150 likes on a post which is really great. That's awesome. Out of, that's actually a low percentage based on the amount of followers we have. But recently I've done a few like camera related things or asking questions in the stories about what we're shooting or what we should be doing. And I mean one of the most recent ones we had over 200 responses. Now that's double the amount of just clicking like people were actually typing in and responding.

James: and that takes more time than just tapping like.

James: And it's way more time. And so what I've learned from that is one people are watching those a lot. We have usually a couple thousand people watching our Instagram Stories and then to get like 150 to 200 responses to something on a quiz is really good. It means that people are stopping and really soaking in the information that you're trying to give. And I think there's a lesson to be learned even for churches if you want to get your community engaged with what's going on. You can ask them you know questions about events coming up or things that happened on Sunday or make a little bit of a game of it. Like what happened in the sermon or what was the third song we sang this morning. And you list four different options like you do the quiz option for worship songs and then one like why not write like right.

Joanna: What the heck did the preacher talk about.

James: Because that's a challenge sometimes I you know I ever forget like OK what was the third song or you know what did are our preacher talk about this morning. My wife will say you know what you think of the sermon this morning and I have to pause for a second and say Okay I know I listened. Let me go back. Oh yeah we're in the book of Daniel. Okay. Yeah but that's good because now you're having to recall the information and you're making sure it's not just slipping out of your mind.

Joanna: Even beyond the pop quiz. I mean that's maybe a bit of a funny way to do it. It would you could try it out. But I think the opposite end of like for a pastor or a communicator who's trying to get a sense of maybe you're adding a service time and or you're adding in event time when you want to know what would be a preferred time for people. You can do that as a survey now write an Instagram story and get some meaningful engagement on that. Or you could maybe you have a question about like what are your top fears and you could list a few examples of people who could choose from the multiple choice answers of what thing they're most afraid of. And you could add that as flavor into a sermon. And that's a way for you as a communications and media person to help and come alongside and partner with your preaching and communications people. I mean you're upfront communications people you're preachers and stuff to help them engage with the audience and to make their content more relevant and interesting by getting like real questions answered the week before they talk about it like on a Sunday morning for example.

James: And I think churches that also think about their Instagram account like I mean I generally don't like this word but "influencer" like people are going to tag the church in things in their photos. And I think you can curate that and then share some of those pictures to your Instagram story because people are gonna be tagging your church in things and I think it's OK to engage with people like people will get excited that the church shared their photo on the church social account and it's so fun so and so why not. Like that's what lots of people do outside of church. And the reason why it works is people get excited that someone else has noticed what they're doing. And I think you as the church communicator can really drive engagement and get people more engaged with the church brand and thus all the other information you're trying to get out to them by tagging people in it are resharing their photo. and doing all kind of things like that.

Joanna: There's all these engagement tools now like on the store like we're talking about the countdown to a big event. Yeah you can set that up as a thing that will help you people can say they want that timer on their own Instagram. So you do like five days till the conference or even just two days till Sunday when we all get together again or you know it's till summer camp or whatever it is that you're working on. You can have some fun with that.

James: And we've talked about before but I think one of the keys is to make sure. Like for engagement it's to not make everything and ad. And I think even as churches you can get into the habit of always posting an ad for something like you're not it's not a typical product where you're trying to sell something but you're always just here's what's going on there like it's always an ad for to come into this come out of this this this this. And people. I tend to tune out ads very like we're all programmed to when and ad comes on.

Joanna: Well there are more ads than ever already.

James: Absolutely, Instagram is already pushing paid ads to you don't make everything an ad make it more of a community type response. But that's why the quiz is great. It's asking the person to be engaged with what you're asking as opposed to here's a nice Photoshop designed ad for you about the upcoming worship service. People tune it out like we we are programmed to somewhat ignore as soon as we read, in our brains we read what we think is an ad and we'll all program it out right.

Joanna: And so on that note like it's, as an important part of engagement is to actually reply to people. So I see this so often I'm surprised like when people write a comment below your picture or especially on it we're talking today more about the Instagram Stories if people reply to your story. Reply back even if it doesn't warrant a huge response. Even I love that you can do a double tap in the in the private message and give them give them a little heart. It acknowledges that you saw and that you appreciated their interaction.

James: Yeah acknowledge the engagement. Absolutely yeah.

Joanna: But even you know even if you go a step further and take the 20 minutes to to just like answer a ton of messages all at once I say 20 minutes assuming you have tons and tons but it doesn't take more than a few seconds to write to one person like oh what did you like best about that thing. Hey thanks so much for your feedback. Or yeah we love that thing too. You know whatever it may be whatever an appropriate and simple, it can be fairly generic response but it is important to engage and the more you engage back with people and make it like a conversation back and forth and back and forth, the more people will engage and the more people engage the more they're likely to come back the more likely you are to be up in the algorithms for more people to find what you're talking about in the first place and it makes it not just a megaphone for your announcements it makes it a meaningful part of building social community.