Are you showing up here because you are frustrated by low engagement? 

Or maybe you are wondering if the algorithm is the problem?

Or… dare I say… your content is the problem?

I’m going to tell you straight. Low engagement is almost always a problem with your content, your captions or your overall messaging.

The algorithm will help you when you have great content that people want to engage with. The algorithm will not help you, if no one wants to see your content anyways. 

The trick with engagement is that to TEST to see what works well for your specific church, learn from it, and create more posts just like the ones that did better than the rest. 

And I get it, Instagram is a love/hate relationship for most churches. The sky's the limit in terms of potential opportunities for growth and connection, but on the other hand you can often feel like you are hitting a wall over and over again when your numbers dip. 

The bottom line is this. If you stay consistent on Instagram, you will see progress. When you show up in your feed and stories, and interact with others posts on a regular basis you will begin to experience better engagement. 

Engagement starts with you and your church, showing up on Instagram, consistently, to serve. 

Now, you were expecting some easy tips, maybe not a lecture haha, so here’s those tips to get you going in the right direction when it comes to your Instagram Engagement Strategy. 

Table of Contents

  1. Grab Attention with the First Sentence of the Caption 
  2. Experiment with Educational Posts and Carousels 
  3. Encourage People to Save or Share
  4. Post More Photos of People from Your Church 
  5. Get More Personal 

Instagram Engagement Tip #1: Grab Attention with the First Sentence of Your Caption

On Instagram you have 125 characters before that “read more” button comes up, and those 125 characters can literally be make or break. 

The value of your words on Instagram is huge. You may think it’s all about the high-quality videos, graphics or photos, but it’s not. Words draw people in and help them decide if they will engage or not. 

Think of the first sentence as like an email subject line, a blog title or a sermon title - it’s that important. You may know this line as “the hook”. Which describes it perfectly; the few words that “hook” people in to read more and connect with you further. 

A few ways to do this:

  • Lead with a bold for fun question
  • Share an unpopular opinion (gotta love the shock factor!)
  • Try starting with your Call to Action
  • Begin to tell a story and leave them hanging 

Avoid soft intros like “I was thinking the other day about…” not catchy enough for people to want to keep reading or respond. If you want to learn more about writing and telling stories, check out all of Storybrand's resources or just read his book.

Instagram Engagement Tip #2: Experiment with Educational Posts and Carousels 

I’m a big carousel fan. Here’s why: according to this article on Sprout Social, the most highly engaging posts on Instagram are carousel posts. Say what?! Research from Bannersnack highlights that Carousel posts score the highest engagement rate (1.94%) followed by images (1.74%) and video posts (1.45%).

So I’m telling you, try carousels. Here’s some reasons why this might be. 

One, you know how sometimes the same posts pop up in your feed that you’ve already seen? Well, when it's a carousel post, it will pop up with a different image from the carousel, so people will be more likely to take a look at the same post again because it appears like a new post. 

Number two, carousel posts are generally more educational because you can show a series of photos or text that keeps people interested for longer and walk them through a process. Because people are on the post longer, they are more like to engage with it or save it if they want to come back to it. 

A few ways to do this: 

  • Highlight facts or tips 
  • Share a series of images from a recent event or church service
  • Highlight the features of something you offer (training, ministries, serve teams…)

Carousels will keep people on the app longer, and you know Instagram loves that. But it can be a win/win, you can share more in a visual way, your community gets more value out of the post and bam, more engagement. 

Instagram Engagement Tip #3: Encourage Followers to Save or Share

You need to ASK for engagement. I know it's awkward, I know sometimes people don’t respond, I know it’s vulnerable. But think of asking like opening the conversation. 

Think about it like this, one of the best leadership skills is to ask good questions, right? I know John Maxwell and Dale Carnegie would agree. 

When you ask someone questions about themselves, they feel like they got a lot out of the conversation because people want to be known and heard. 

It’s the same with asking for engagement. Genuinely ask questions you want to know! And since we’re talking about social media don’t make your questions hard to answer, people want to answer quickly as they are scrolling on through post after post. 

Now, focus on asking for “saves” or “shares” when applicable. Don’t ask them to save or share your post if it doesn’t make sense to. Someone may save a checklist on how to create a morning routine with God, but they wouldn’t save a photo of your most recent event. Logical, right? 

A few ways to ask for engagement: 

  • Save this post for later to remember these tips! 
  • Hit the bookmark so you can save this post for another time!
  • Want to remember this tip/strategy/quote? Save this post!

A good rule of thumb, ask yourself if you personally would save or share it, and if not… there you go! You are asking them to save it because it benefits them, it’s not about you.

Instagram Engagement Tip #4: Post More Photos of People from Your Church 

One of my favorite tips because it’s so easy and will really help. Your community will engage more with photos of people they know from your church versus graphics or stock photos. It’s just a fact. 

People would rather engage with a medium quality photo taken on your iphone of their friends than a professionally designed graphic that took an hour to make. 

I don’t make the rules, this is just how it is. 

In those photos, don’t post backs of people's heads or bodies, don’t post unhappy looking people and don’t post people too far away to where you can see their expression. Focus on lots of smiling faces. 

Even marketers know this, it’s proven in advertising that Ads do better when they have a smiling face on them. Why? Because people want and need to connect with others. 

Instagram Engagement Tip #5: Get More Personal 

Last, but definitely not least, get more personal. Ok, I know it’s a church account, so what is “personal”? 

Personal is what you post. For example: sharing what is really going on behind the scenes, sharing more about the lives and stories of the people in your church and your leaders and pastors sharing about their lives as real people.

Personal is also how you talk. As much as you can use the word, YOU when you writing your captions. Make it a one person conversation. Then the person on the other end will feel like you are talking just to them. To do this, read your caption to someone and see if it makes sense! 

Also, avoid fancy language. Speak like you would actually talk. That will do wonders for your engagement and people feeling like they can connect to your church.


Now you’ve got in your back pocket 5 Easy Tips to Boost Your Church’s Instagram Engagement Strategy. Here’s the overview of those tips again: 

  1. Grab Attention with the First Sentence of the Caption 
  2. Experiment with Educational Posts and Carousels 
  3. Encourage People to Save or Share
  4. Post More Photos of People from Your Church 
  5. Get More Personal

Jan 4, 2022
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