Instagram and the Visual Web

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This article was originally published on Church Juice on February 6, 2019. You can view the original article here.

Church Juice provides congregations with free resources, articles, and opportunities for training and consulting on church communications. Church Juice is a ministry of Back to God Ministries International, the media mission of the CRCNA.

“Your church’s online presence must become more visual.”

Jerod, Church Juice’s founding producer, said this back in 2012. And it’s still true today. Many churches are slow to adapt, slow to change. But we must not get left behind on this front. So let me say it again: your church’s online presence must become more visual.

I’m not saying you need a full-time professional photographer on staff to document every Sunday service or midweek Bible study. But I am saying that you should commit to taking more pictures, and using those pictures to visually share your church’s story.

Church, Meet Instagram

If you don’t know Instagram, it’s time the two of you met. At its core, Instagram is about sharing pictures with a minimal amount of text. Friends can like or comment on photos. It’s like Facebook if you removed everything but the pictures. (It’s worth noting that Facebook owns Instagram, although it functions as a separate project.)

Instagram has more than 1 billion users (more than 1/10th the world’s population). Many churches are trying to grow younger (reach more young people). So, hear this, 540 million, or 64% of Instagram users, are ages 18-34. But it’s not just young people using Instagram.

If a large segment of your church’s audience is under the age of 45, or you’re trying to reach more of this audience, you need to think about your visual presence, and think about including Instagram in your communication strategy. Even if you choose to remain on other platforms, it’s important to realize the impact that Instagram and visual stories have had on Facebook and Twitter.

The Visual Web

Your church may not need to utilize Instagram. But even if you’re not thinking about using this newer social platform, you should recognize that its popularity exemplifies the increasingly visual nature of the web.

The right image can say more than a block of text. Some cliché experts would even suggest that it’s more powerful than 1000 words. A website shouldn’t be an epic novel. People who come to your website aren’t looking for a complex narrative. They want to find the information they’re looking for, and they want to find it quickly.

Yes, quality writing still matters. Being creative with the words you use makes your website stand out. But think about how images could replace some of the things you write—because your words become even more powerful if there are fewer of them on a page.

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