What's in this session?

  • No Sunday story ideas (0:44)
  • #1: Pastor at-home behind the scenes (2:17)
  • #2: Q&A with screenshots and responses (4:46)
  • #3: Day-to-day (6:28)

Show notes and resources

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The Transcript

Alex Mills: Stories on social media are currently growing 15 times faster than the social news feed. How can your church take advantage of this? Well, in this podcast I’ll share with you three stories frameworks that are working great right now. Not only that, but these particular techniques are also incredibly easy and quick to execute.

Alex Mills: Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Tools, the show where in 10 minutes or less you’re going to get a dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift in 500 years. I’m your host Alex Mills, joined as always by the boss man, Brady Shearer.

Brady Shearer: Alex, today we want to offer up three quick and easy Instagram stories, strategies for churches. You will not find though in this episode any Sunday stories ideas. Why, well because churches have no problem posting stories on Sundays, but what about the rest of the week. We’ve got six other days and we want to give some content ideas for that.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and we’re going to give you a few specific ideas to run with in this episode. We have talked about Instagram story strategies before. We’ve kind of broken down some other strategies, but I think what’s most valuable here and something that I’ve really used to learn about the platform is actually following the people that you want to emulate. Whether it’s following Brady Shearer on Instagram, or following some of your favorite pastors, especially ones who do Instagram well like Chad Veach or Craig Groeschel, follow these accounts and just watch how they’re using Instagram stories so that way you can not only learn the specific strategy find a specific type of post, but you can also glean the nuance of how to interact on stories and what works and what doesn’t.

Alex Mills: There are so many different tactics that you can actually use within the Instagram stories platform, whether it’s stickers, or questions, or annotation, or talking vlog style, so many things to cover. You’re going to learn the most from watching people do it on a day to day basis. So yeah, we’re going to talk about three specific strategies here, but I would recommend you pay attention to the people you’re already following, or maybe broaden your scope a little bit on Instagram, follow some people you don’t already follow, and see how they’re using Instagram so you can, like I said, get that nuance of the platform.

Brady Shearer: Said simply, it’s one thing to listen to what we say, it’s another to watch what we do.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Strategy number one, I call this the pastor at home behind the scenes.

Alex Mills: Classic.

Brady Shearer: An example of this, a little while ago, Craig Groeschel, he’s at home and he’s cooking, and apparently something happened with the pot that he was cooking in, can’t get the lid off of the pot.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: It’s the most mundane thing that could happen at home, and he made a whole Instagram story about it, I think eight different slides, trying to get the lid off of the pot. This is simple and it’s really kind of boring I guess, but there’s no such thing as a boring story if you can turn it into something that’s entertaining if you know how to story tell well on that platform. What’s great about this is that it humanizes the pastor-

Alex Mills: You got it.

Brady Shearer: It humanizes the brand. It makes it feel like oh yeah, everyone goes through the exact same things. Just yesterday I posted an Instagram story. I was in my new home that we just purchased and there was all these blankets on the floor because the painters were in making sure the home was ready before we moved in. I just did a quick Instagram story of saying oh look, the painters are in here. That’s a little bit more extravagant than a lid getting stuck on top of a pot, but it was just something that was happening at home behind the scenes that day. People don’t normally get to see that.

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: That’s what makes this novel because it’s unusual and it’s different than what we get to see on a Sunday morning. That makes it interesting because we know these people. It wouldn’t be interesting if you didn’t know that pastor, but you do.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And you never get to see this part of their life-

Alex Mills: Exactly.

Brady Shearer: Or very rarely, and so seeing this is interesting.

Alex Mills: Well not only does it humanize you, but it also generates meaningful interaction. I posted a story in my life just the other day. I have a robot vacuum and I got a notification on my phone that says your vacuum cleaning job has been paused because your robot is on a cliff. I said what. I go home and I’m like where am I going to find my robot, and it was just on the edge of a carpet. I filmed this whole thing, posted it to my story. It was funny, but it generated so much interaction, so many responses. I had so many just like fun light hearted conversations with people who follow me because it was funny and it humanized me. Maybe somebody else has had that experience, they were able to connect with that.

Brady Shearer: And that was generating content beyond you. I told my wife yesterday, a week after you posted the story, we had a whole conversation about DJ Roomba and the Mix, and now it was so funny.

Alex Mills: Yeah. You just bought some of those vacuums.

Brady Shearer: Bought a bunch of Roombas. I was like one day we’re going to get a notification that says DJ Roomba is on a cliff.

Alex Mills: Fun, at home, behind the scenes.

Brady Shearer: So good. Strategy number two, we call this the Q&A with screenshots and responses. This doesn’t require you to even be on camera, which is what makes it fun. Essentially, you can take screen shots of questions that are being sent in through the Instagram DMs, anonymize the individual that sends them in-

Alex Mills: Of course.

Brady Shearer: So wipe out their user name and their profile picture. If someone has a question, they’re not the only one that has that question. You can post responses to it on Instagram stories.

Alex Mills: Yeah, especially if you make it anonymous. It’s okay to reveal that question.

Brady Shearer: You might be asking, Brady, we don’t have that big of an Instagram following. We don’t get like really any questions through that. I like this idea, but it wouldn’t work for us. Here’s a pro tip. It’s okay to stack the deck in your favor.

Alex Mills: It is.

Brady Shearer: You as a church are getting questions. Maybe you’re not getting them through the Instagram DMs.

Alex Mills: Yet.

Brady Shearer: Maybe you’re getting them through email. Good point. Maybe you’re getting them in person. Maybe you’re getting them over the phone. Maybe you’re getting them through Facebook. If you’re getting them digitally wherever, feel free to take a screen shot, anonymize it, annotate it up, and answer the question. If you’re only getting in person questions, over the phone questions, that’s okay, send yourself a DM, send your church a DM from your personal account, anonymize it, and then answer it that way. You might be thinking but isn’t that disingenuous, no someone asked the question, they just didn’t ask it through Instagram. Now you’re creating content for Instagram. It’s just crossing the question over from one platform to another. It’s not … You get to a certain point where you don’t need to do that.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: I’ve never needed to that on Instagram.

Alex Mills: Exactly. You get into a snowball effect.

Brady Shearer: Exactly.

Alex Mills: Once this ball gets rolling and people know that you’re accessible and there to answer questions, they will start asking them. Sometimes you’ve just got to prime the pump.

Brady Shearer: Absolutely. And technique number three, we call this the day to day. Chad Veach, previously mentioned by Alex, is one of the best examples of this. Here are some ideas for what I mean by day to day, a picture of the coffee that you purchased.

Alex Mills: That’s a good idea. I’m going to try that on my Instagram I think, a picture of coffee.

Brady Shearer: Yeah good one, okay. Another idea, taking pictures, videos, of your kids, you at the gym, you in an outfit, you driving.

Alex Mills: Pictures of your new shoes.

Brady Shearer: Pictures of your new shoes. You know what, I’m going to use that one for my Instagram.

Alex Mills: Nice.

Brady Shearer: Only Chuck All Stars, your face.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: These are the types of things that again seem innocuous. They seem just like plain, boring, everyday. That’s the point. People don’t normally see that. They like seeing behind the scenes. I don’t know why, but ooh what is, what kind of coffee is my pastor drinking today.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Whoa, cream and sugar. Tough day pastor? Now you’re having a fun conversation. These are the types of things that add layers to a personality, to an individual that you don’t normally see, but are really, really important. It’s hard to articulate this-

Alex Mills: It is.

Brady Shearer: Or at least I’m having trouble, but a person who does this exceptionally well also is Sean Cannell.

Alex Mills: Oh yeah.

Brady Shearer: Every single day Sean Cannell starts his Instagram story-

Alex Mills: Rise and grind.

Brady Shearer: Rise and grind everybody, it’s a new day full of new opportunities, new somethings to do something, so let’s crush it. Why does he do that every day, and why do I have it memorized? Because it’s fun and it adds something that’s like daily, it’s repetitive, it’s day to day, and it just shows these layers of his personality. It’s important to show your personality layers because they make you more relatable, which make you more sociable, which make you more likable, and all of these things are important for creating culture and creating community. If you are relatable and likable, it means you are approachable, which means people will talk to you, which means you can create real community. But you have to start by being approachable, and being likable, and being relatable.

Alex Mills: Yeah. And like with Sean, he’s often posting about going for a run, talking about business, this and that, but then when life hits and when his wife Sonja needs surgery, he has, because we have that preexisting relationship through Instagram stories, he can share about that and expect that the people who are following along are going to pray for her. We just saw that happen recently. That’s an incredible opportunity we have with these social platforms today.

Brady Shearer: Again, listen to what we say, but watch what we do. If we’re talking about these techniques, it means that we’ve done work shopping them and using them for three to six months. There are things that we’re trying right now that may or may not work, but we’re experimenting. There are nuances to this. Where Brady places the text on his stories, how he begins and ends them, why is there so much movement in the first three seconds, why is he holding his phone in that way and why is he never doing a story in the same spot, why does he keep moving different.

Brady Shearer: These are all the things that you need to think about and reverse engineer as you’re watching a story. It’s like watching a movie. It’s one thing to hear the director talk about what he did, what she did, it’s another thing to watch it and ask yourself why is the camera placed in that way, why did the actress enter from that side of the screen, and why is the framing done in this particular way. These are all purposeful choices. You can listen to what people say, but a great way to learn is to watch what’s being done, reverse engineer it, and begin experimenting that in your own life as well.

Alex Mills: So good.

Brady Shearer: That will do it for this episode of Pro Church Tools. We will see you next time.

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