Engage Church is taking reaching their community through social media very seriously. In fact they set the audacious goal of being the most followed church in their city on Instagram. Currently they are 835 people away from reaching this goal. Their storytelling architect, Billy Humphrey, joins Brady to figure out what they can improve to hit their goal.
Meet The Church Being Coached
- Church Name: Engage Church
- Church Location: Tallahassee, Florida
- Church Age: 5 years
- Church Size: 400
- On the coaching call: Billy Humphrey – Storytelling Architect
Show Notes & Resources Mentioned
- Engage Church on Instagram
- City Church on Instagram
- Pretty Link for WordPress
- Brady Shearer on Instagram
- Tek Syndicate Photography Tutorial
- Building A Volunteer Photography Team At Your Church with Dave Adamson
3 Instant Takeaways
- Set a goal. Having a goal gives your work purpose. Like most projects, social media requires daily effort with only a small margin of growth per day. Having an overarching goal can help you maintain consistent effort knowing that even small increases are moving the needle forward.
- Following local shops and businesses. Be invested your community. By following local businesses, and interacting with them, you not only become more aware of things that are happening in your community, but you get the opportunity to invest and become involved.
- Use hashtags and location tags to help garner more organic traffic. Instagram is a social platform that still allows you to be found organically through hashtags, so be sure to use them on every post. Use location tags on your posts as well as on your Instagram stories.
The Full Transcript
Brady Shearer: [music 00:00:01] Well, hey there and welcome to the Pro Church Podcast Coaching Edition. You’re now part of a small group of pioneering churches doing everything we can to seize the 100 and 67 hours beyond our Sunday Services. Why, because we’re living through the biggest communication shift in the last 500 years. And what God has here won’t get us there. I’m Brady, your host and right now, you’re gonna sit in with me as I coach and consult with a church in Real Time. Its raw. Its unedited and we’re solving real church problems. So let’s dive right in.
[00:00:30] Well, hey there Pro Church Nation. Welcome to another session of the Pro Church Podcast Coaching Edition. In this podcast I’m going to be speaking with live with a church and you’ll get to sit in on our coaching session together. Nothings off limit. Everything is recorded and today we’re welcoming to the coaching call, Billy Humphrey.
Billy, what’s up?
Billy Humphrey: Not too much sir, excited to be on. How are you doing?
Brady Shearer: I’m doing extraordinarily well and is thrilled to have you on this coaching session. We start off each of the coaching sessions with the five question lightening round. [00:01:00] Ready to roll?
Billy Humphrey: I’m ready. Let’s do it.
Brady Shearer: Alright, perfect. Let’s start with, what is the name of your church?
Billy Humphrey: Our church is, Engage Church.
Brady Shearer: Awesome. And where is your church located?
Billy Humphrey: It’s in Tallahassee, Florida.
Brady Shearer: Okay, how old is your church?
Billy Humphrey: January will be five years.
Brady Shearer: Alright. How big is your church?
Billy Humphrey: We have about 400 people on a Sunday.
Brady Shearer: Last question, what is your role at the church?
Billy Humphrey: My title is Story-telling Architect.
Brady Shearer: Wow, is that a [00:01:30] staff position, volunteer? Full time, half time? Part time?
Billy Humphrey: Full time staff position.
Brady Shearer: Amazing, so we’ve got Engage church out of Tallahassee, five years old, 400 hundred people; Billy Humphrey, the Story-telling Architect, which is, in fact, a full time position. Is it split with anything else or are you a full time Story-telling Architect?
Billy Humphrey: [laugh 00:01:49] Its shared with a few other things. Over worship and a few other projects, but majority of it, yeah, story-telling.
Brady Shearer: This is fascinating. I think this is the first time that I’ve ever spoken [00:02:00] with a church, especially, for sure, for your size that would have someone that’s this dedicated to story-telling. And it’s just making me so happy to hear because I talk all the time about how story-telling is the most powerful form of communication, scientifically proven, empirically proven, by far. I also think that it’s just the absolute best skill that you as an individual can learn to serve your church better. To see your church, not just benefit from that [00:02:30] skill that you’re offering them, but to reciprocate by paying you to do, it’s just great.
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, yeah. I mean, obviously we love it and its something we’ve tried to push here and grow a lot, and really intentional about since the church began. It’s definitely something that we wanted to be excellent at and do a great job at.
Brady Shearer: Awesome. Well, we’ve got about an hour together on this coaching call. I’m not going to waste anymore time. I’ll hand it over to you. Where do you want to take this time that we have together?
Billy Humphrey: One of the areas [00:03:00] that we’re tryina focus on this year, and we do our year from an academic calendar, so, September to the end of summer next year. One of our goals in story-telling is to be the most followed church on Instagram in our city. I checked this morning and we’re 835 away. We’re in second place, which, not bad. We are 835 followers away from being the most followed church in our city.
I just wanted to pick your brain and get some wisdom [00:03:30] and insight from you and what you’ve learned about Instagram, of really, how to make that happen.
Brady Shearer: Okay, perfect. So your goal is to be the most followed church on Instagram, in your city. I think the goal, originally, in the information that you sent me while booking this coaching call was by the end of July 2018. Is that still the timeline?
Billy Humphrey: Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Brady Shearer: Perfect. I mean, obviously, sooner is better, but that’s kind of like the deadline?
Billy Humphrey: Right, exactly.
Brady Shearer: Perfect. Perfect. [00:04:00] And you said, how many followers left before you reach that?
Billy Humphrey: 835.
Brady Shearer: Okay, perfect. You said you’re in second place, means you have a keen eye on the other church. What’s this other church that has 835 more followers than you do?
Billy Humphrey: Their name is City Church. City Church.
Brady Shearer: Perfect. Is that the handle on Instagram as well?
Billy Humphrey: It’s Citychurchtally.
Brady Shearer: T-a-l-l-y?
Billy Humphrey: Yes.
Brady Shearer: Citychurchtally, okay. Well, it’s interesting because the first [00:04:30] thing, when I look at your accounts, and for everyone listening, the Instagram account that we just mentioned, citychurchtally is the handle. For Billy’s church, we’ve got, atengagetlh. When you look at the two different feeds, by far Billy, I would say that yours is a lot more visually appealing than theirs. I would say that you have a very progressive, not even necessarily, progressive for churches, but, pretty much standard for the rest of Instagram, approach to your [00:05:00] content. Very visual, high quality photography, lots of people’s faces. This other church has what you would normally see from churches, which is a lot of promos, scripture quotes, some people’s faces, but most of its just grabbed straight from their services. Truthfully, that’s just not in vogue when it comes to what Instagram is all about.
We can dive into a full Instagram mastery course class, whatever you want to call it, over the next [00:05:30] hour Billy, but I think what’s better to start off with is talking about what’s been working for you thus far. You’ve got 1500 followers right now. You are following 380 people. The ratio right there, it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you could be getting followers simply by following back. If you look at the other Instagram account, they have 2200 followers, but they’re only following 1200 people. They have followers that are going out of their way to follow them. [00:06:00] You’ve got 1200 posts, as does this other church.
I don’t want to put you next to this other, like, this church verus your church. [laugh 00:06:010] I do think that you’ve done well is that you’ve put a goal. I’ve gotta commend you first for this. There’re maybe some listening that are like, “Why are you trying to compete against this other church?” I see that a lot in Florida just cause there’s som many great churches in Florida. what I will say is that, when you put an actual deadline, July 2018, as you have, in an actual empirical [00:06:30] way of measuring a goal, it just makes it that much better. We have revenue goals here, pro church tools, we’ve got social goals, we’ve got employee goals, all these things that are measurable.
Does the measuring help? Absolutely. Does the number matter? Usually not, but having something that’s concrete helps with the visualization process and helps with the daily grind. It’s gonna take a long time. Let’s say you hit the deadline, July 2018, from this time of recording, six, seven, eight months away. [00:07:00] Instagram, like all of social requires that daily effort. It’s easy to lose sight of that in a day by day basis, cause you can feel like, “ugh”, but when you have a concrete goal and you know what you’re reaching for, it makes that daily grind that much easier. I do want to commend you on that. Talk to me about what’s been working for you the most on your Instagram platform so far.
Billy Humphrey: One of the things that we decided to do from listening to a lot of the content you put out is we went away from posting a [00:07:30] lot of graphics and posting quotes. We wanted to do more photo driven. a lot of the stuff we did, the research that you said to do, “look at the posts that are the most popular posts on your feed, rinse and repeat.” We looked at those and above and beyond, it was photos of people, photos of people laughing, photos of people hanging out, it was pictures of people. We said, “Let’s do a lot of photos of people”. We’ve tried to come up with different ways to make that not so boring and repetitive, so we’ve come up with [00:08:00] different campaign ideas and strategies of how to do that. That’s been the thing that’s gotten the most interaction on our feed so far, just doing this for a few months now, is posting a lot more photos of people and getting away from just graphics and, “Here’s our next sermon series” and things like that.
Brady Shearer: yeah, absolutely. I get a lot of tweets and messages from people, you know, people just saying, “Wow, I tried this thing that you said and then it worked”. [00:08:30] This isn’t to be snarky, but, I’m not super smart, in the sense that, I’m not creating these ideas on Instagram or on any type of digital platform, right? It’s not that I’m the person that’s creating these ideas and developing these theories, hoping that someone will try them. All I’m doing is looking at what’s working on platforms and telling churches, ” Hey, you should stop doing what you’re doing cause it won’t work and start doing what everyone else is doing.” It’s as simple as that.
What’s interesting about the church world is, [00:09:00] we’re often five years behind, it seems, maybe more. That might be a little bit conservative when it comes to the rest of the world. A lot of the time, it makes my job easy. I just have to pay a small semblant of attention to what’s happening in the real world and as long as I report to ya’ll in the next five years, then we’ll still be ahead of the trend, which is kind of sad when you think about it, but it is the current state of affairs for most. I would say that’s not the case for you, Billy. I’ve looked at your website, I’ve looked at your Instagram feed. For the age of your church and the size [00:09:30] of your church, you guys are doing extraordinary things. I would say, at least, in comparison to others.
You talked about what you’ve done to get more pictures of people’s faces. You mentioned the word Campaigns. Can you speak to that, what you’ve done?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, we did a couple things. We’d get people’s stories in our church. As we’ve grown, it’s been harder and harder to meet different people and at the size that we are, we have two locations now. you don’t know everyone that’s coming in the door anymore, so, we did a thing called, “People of Engage.” [00:10:00] There’s a hash tag that we use. No one else was using it on Instagram, so, we got a couple stories of the people in our church and had one of our photographers go out and take pictures of them. We were strategic because we’re a very diverse church in age and race. It’s a big thing we try to push and promote and work towards. We’re strategic of going, “Okay, let’s get a few white people, let’s get some black people, let’s get some married people, let’s get some singles.’ ‘Let’s get some older, let’s get some younger'”.
We’re very strategic of trying plan that stuff [00:10:30] out, but really capturing what does the crowd or what does the typical group of people that come to Engage look like and then shared some of their stories of how they got connected to engage or how they’ve been growing in their faith since being a part of our church. Things like that. Sharing stuff like that. The most recent one was Kids of Engage. We took different photos of some of the kids, again, different ages, grades, things like that and shared some funny stories about them. [00:11:00] We interviewed them and asked them questions and we’d put up some silly questions, but also, questions they answered about Jesus. We shared those on our feed, but we were strategic, as well, that we did it every other photo that we posted so when you look at our feed, it look really nice. It’s attractional to do that. We posted baptism photos in between some of our campaigns and things like that. Those are a few that we’ve tried so far, in the past few months.
Brady Shearer: I know this is your coaching call Billy. I don’t want to take any time away from you, but I think you’re doing so many things well, [00:11:30] and we’re about to dive in some of the advanced stuff, which is going to be fun. You’re doing so many things well that I really want everyone in Pro Church Nation that’s listening, to gain as much as they can from it. One of the things that we get asked a lot is, “We want to put kids on our Instagram feed or in our social feeds, but what about permission?” You did this Kids of Engage campaign, how did you manage the permissions from parents and using minors on social … what was it like to tackle that?
Billy Humphrey: Our kids director [00:12:00] reached out to some of the families that we were interested having their kids on the campaign. We asked them permission first. We had some parents that weren’t comfortable with it. We completely respected that and didn’t want to do anything that they weren’t comfortable with. Some of the kids, as well, we only put their first name, for example. We didn’t put what grade they were in, their full name or anything like that. We were very selective, the information that [00:12:30] we shared about the child as well. What we wanted to promote was the funny things they were saying. We focused on that stuff more.
Brady Shearer: yeah, absolutely. Great. Great. It’s one of those things where it can feel like the barriers to doing it makes it almost not worth it, but when you talk about it that way, its like, yeah, its not super difficult. You just do a little this, a little this. cover your bases and its good to go. That’s great to hear.
Alright, we’ll go, systematically, through everything that I teach and know about Instagram, [00:13:00] which isn’t everything, but I’m going to teach you everything that I do know. We can see some spaces where you can improve and, hopefully, speed up the pace to which you’re going to, eventually, reach that goal.I do want to say this one thing. You are, eventually, going to reach this goal. When I look at what you’re doing, this is an inevitability rather a hypothetical, hopeful kind of goal. It all comes down to a simple word, patience and the ability to put in the work every single day. I posted this on my Instagram story [00:13:30] just yesterday and I said something along the lines of, “‘Look, here’s the secret.”The secret is anything that’s worth doing takes a long time.'” and there was 18 o’s in the word long cause I really wanted to emphasize that anything worth doing takes forever.
Right now, I’m trying to diet down from 15 to 10 percent body fat. On a day to day basis you can be like, ” I just want one more donut.” or, ” I want one more”… you know? It was a keto donut, so only three net carbs. It’s hard to see on [00:14:00] a day to day basis, but, if I can just be consistent for 60 days, maybe then, I can get there. When it comes to building on a platform like nucleus, it’s gonna take us 15 months to build this from scratch, it’s closed and I want it to be open, and I want people to be able to sign up for it, but it’s not yet or with Story Tape, at the time of this recording, we’re about a month out from the launch. It feels so close but it still feels so far and every day you got to put in so much work. Anything worth doing takes a ton of work and a ton of time.
All success [00:14:30] can be distilled down to three things, skill, hustle, and patience. Are you good enough to make this happen? Are you willing to work hard enough to make this happen? Are you willing to work long enough for it to happen? Those are, essentially, the three variables in everything. One thing I say a lot is, “Almost everything that we all want is pretty simple, but, just cause it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy.” To go back to that body fat percentage thing, it’s not hard to get from 15 [00:15:00] to 10 percent body fat. I know how much food I need to eat daily. I know how much I need to be in the gym and I need to do that for a long time, then I’ll get there.
Just cause its simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Those are the three things I always look at internally, and say, “Okay, if I’m a little bit discouraged, if I’m restless, if I’m feeling down, like ‘we’re not gonna make this,'” I look at those three things. Skill, hustle, and patience. Do I have the skill [00:15:30] to make this happen? Yes, I believe in myself and I believe in your strategy also, Billy. Okay, what about hustle? Am I working hard enough? That’s a variable that I can change. The thing about skill is it’s usually not one you can change. You can improve on what you have, bu you can only improve upon it so much. I can practice basketball every single day, but I’m never gonna be Lebron. The kids I played with as a kid, who are now in the NBA, those Canadians, I was just never going to be them. As much as I worked, I just didn’t have the physical tools necessary.
Skill is one [00:16:00] of those variables you can’t change entirely, but hustle and hard work is. That is a variable that comes down to how much you are willing to work and patience is the ultimate variable, because at the end of the day, most people are not willing to put in the time over a long-long period. Most people get impatient. Most people give up. We’ve seen this with ourselves. How many times have we set out to accomplish a goal and then three weeks later we’re back doing our regular thing. That patience one is so difficult. [00:16:30] Beyond all the hacks, tricks, and tips that we are going to go through, that is the number one thing. Whether you’re trying to grow an Instagram account, like Billy and Engage is or you’re trying to dye it down to a certain percentage or trying to grow your church or trying to get your Pastor to finally dive in to what’s social, get a website; whatever it is, those three things are essentially the three variables of success.
Let’s start with your profile, Billy, I think one thing that you can do right away is help your profile do a little bit better in Instagram search. What I mean [00:17:00] by that is, if I search the term Tal-la-ha … I am not even gonna get … Oh good, there’s a recommended spelling, cause I wasn’t gonna get it. [Laugh 00:17:10] If I search Tallahassee Church, your church doesn’t show up in the search results on Instagram. The reason for that is because you don’t have the word Tallahassee in your name. When I say name, I don’t mean your Instagram handle, I mean your name. If I search Tallahassee church, [00:17:30] you know what church does come up? City Church,
Billy Humphrey: oh okay
Brady Shearer: because they have the name, Tallahassee in their title and in their bio. What you want to do is in the name of your actual bio, Your handle is engagetlh, don’t want to change that, but what you want to do is you get a title, and I think, I don’t know exactly the number of characters that you’re allowed, I think its 25 or something. Let me just double check the exact number of characters, but what you want to [00:18:00] do is get your church’s name in there, or at least, the word church and your city’s name as well. I do this with my Instagram handle. I make sure my name is in there, Brady Shearer, but also in … sorry, not handle. Pardon me. Don’t want to be confusing. I want to make this clear, there is a difference between your Instagram handle and your Instagram name. Your handle, you don’t want to change, unless you are ready to completely ready to rebrand, but the name, you can change very [00:18:30] easily, if you just go in to edit profile.
In mine, my handle is @BradyShearer. My name is Brady Shearer and then there’s a fun little finger emoji pointing to Pro Church Tools. I think I’ve used every single character that I’m allowed to use. The reason that I do this is, if you search Pro Church Tools inside of Instagram, you’re gonna find me. If I had left that out of the name, if you searched Pro Church Tools, you wouldn’t find the Brady Shearer account, because there’s no reason to, [00:19:00] but that’s what I want to happen. I want the search to work that way. Find a way, you can put, Engage Church Tallahassee as your title. If that’s gonna be too long, you can put Tallahassee Church and put Engage Church in the description and make up for it that way. What that’s going to allow you to do is rank inside of Instagram for the term Tallahassee Church. I always say, edit your Instagram name field to include the key word Church, your city, [00:19:30] and if possible, your state, as well.
We all know where Tallahassee is. It’s a big enough place where we know where that it, but if you’re in a smaller place, like, Pawnee, to use a Parks and Rec’s example, cause I was watching it last night. [Laugh 00:19:42] There are a lot of Pawnee’s in a lot of different states and you need to identify. If you are in a Springfield, is that Missouri, is that Indiana, is that Tennessee? Whatever it might be, because there’s a Springfield in almost every state. Sometimes you’ll need to further identify which location you’re in. This will allow [00:20:00] you to show up in search, which is going to be super helpful.
Second thing …
Billy Humphrey: Perfect, that’s brilliant.
Brady Shearer: You’re already doing this well so I wanted to make note of it for everyone listening. Fully leverage the single cult action link that you get in your profile. You’re using a tool called Link Tree, you can find it online, prochurchnationlinktr.ee, it’s the word Link Tree, but the suffix is dot e e. They take the word and split it in half, kind of like Bitly does. link.tr.ee linktree. [00:20:30] If you google it, you’ll find it that way. Linktree is a service that takes your single url, on Instagram you only get one url inside of your profile, and it allows you to link out to a number of different things. If I click on the linktree, the call to action link on Engages Instagram profile. It takes me to this linktree page and it shows me a variety of different links. I can go to their website. I can go to some of their events, their groups, their Spotify playlist. They have a variety of [00:21:00] different options. You can use the linktree app to always change these.
The idea is you don’t have to go into your Instagram profile all time time and always be changing your link, which is kind of annoying and cumbersome. Now, you can also offer, multiple destinations. You don’t have to only have one link, you can use multiple. Again, props to Billy and the team for using that. Billy, are you using a link tracker when it comes to knowing how many people are actually clicking that?
Billy Humphrey: [00:21:30] No, we are not.
Brady Shearer: I would recommend you using something like a bit dot l y. or a pretty link if you’re using word press. You can use that to free plug in. Basically, you can take that link, tr.ee/engagetlh url and you can make it look a little bit prettier. So you can make it, what’s your url to your actual website?
Billy Humphrey: engagetallahassee.com
Brady Shearer: Perfect. So you can it engagetallahassee.com/Instagram, for instance. The [00:22:00] whole point of it is, one, to make the link look a little bit prettier, cause the linktree link isn’t super pretty, but most importantly, it’s to actually tract how many people are clicking that. That can be another data point to know how many people are actually clicking on this link. Is Linktree free?
Billy Humphrey: Yes.
Brady Shearer: Perfect. It doesn’t really matter, but let’s say it wasn’t free, hypothetically, you could use that link tracking plug in like Bitly, like pre-link, which are both free, and that would give you the ability [00:22:30] to see how many people are clicking it and if not many people were, you could be like, okay, this isn’t worth paying for it, let’s not. I would highly recommend tracking that just to know how many people are actually clicking the link in your Instagram profile.
Billy Humphrey: Prefect, yeah.
Brady Shearer: That’s the profile hacks. Let’s go to your posting strategy. Are you using any third party apps to track the best time to post for your audience, stuff like that?
Billy Humphrey: yeah, we use whenToPost, I think is [00:23:00] the name of it. It gives us the best times to post in the morning and in the evenings. We use buffer to schedule out our posts.
Brady Shearer: When, like W H E N, whentopost?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, one word.
Brady Shearer: dot com?
Billy Humphrey: All one word. It’s an app. They might have a website as well.
Brady Shearer: oh okay, okay. Cool. Perfect. And have you found that’s been helpful?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, we like it. When you open the app, it will give you, immediately, Hey, do not post right now or it will say, in [00:23:30] 30 minutes is your next prime time to post. That gives us some good feedback of when we should and shouldn’t.
Brady Shearer: Interesting. It doesn’t have the best reviews on Itunes, but Itunes can also be haters. It might not be entirely true just because people can be … Do you have to sing up for it and then wait a while before it gives you reliable data or could you install the app and it will let you know right away?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah. You install the app and then [00:24:00] sign in with your Instagram. However the formula works, it goes through when your followers are on Instagram. There’s a paid version as well. If you want to go in and get more statistics on it, but the free version is just very basic. “These are the times when you should and shouldn’t post. I just opened it right now and it says, “Don’t post”.
Brady Shearer: [laugh 00:24:21] That’s funny. Have you found a difference since you started posting when it suggests versus posting on your own volition beforehand?
Billy Humphrey: [00:24:30] I’m sorry, you cut out there. What’d you say, Brady?
Brady Shearer: Have you noticed a difference since using it, like, more engagement?
Billy Humphrey: oh yeah. I mean, it’s helped us figuring out when we should and shouldn’t because there are times when we decided, “Oh, we forgot to post something up” and we just put it up there. It’s an awful time and we aren’t getting any good feedback and nobody’s liking it. Of course, Instagram’s gonna figure out, “hey, no one likes this post that they shown so we’re gonna stop putting it on people’s [00:25:00] feed” and then we don’t get a lot of interaction on it anyways.
Brady Shearer: Right. Totally. Okay, Are you posting, natively, within the app? Are you using something like Later, like Grum?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, we’re posting natively within the app. We use Buffer just to schedule out some posts and we’ve expanded our team of who is posting to Instagram. I like using Buffer so I can see what the other people have added to the schedule of things to be able to post, so we’re not overlapping [00:25:30] and people aren’t posting multiple times at the same time or anything like that. We still post it natively to the app ourselves.
Brady Shearer: Are you posting every single day?
Billy Humphrey: That’s the goal. We’ve had a couple days where I’ll text the team, hey guys, what happened with the posts today, but our goal is a minimum of once a day.
Brady Shearer: How frequent are you right now, would you say?
Billy Humphrey: I would say we’re averaging once every day to two days.
Brady Shearer: In [00:26:00] a week, five out of seven?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, that’s’ a good guess. Yeah, Five out of seven.
Brady Shearer: I think that’s some more low hanging fruit, obviously, the profile name is easy. This low hanging fruit is a little less low hanging because it requires some more effort on our part. Getting to every day is going to be a huge signal, I believe, to the Instagram algorithm to show you to more people. Because we are now reliant on that algorithm and we have to play by its rules, consistency is huge. I would do whatever it [00:26:30] takes to get that up to daily.
Billy Humphrey: Okay.
Brady Shearer: Talk to me about direct messages. Do you get a lot, any?
Billy Humphrey: We get, mostly, direct messages on stories. We do a lot of stories on Sunday morning or all day Sunday cause we have an evening service, as well. We decided, instead of trying to hit hard on stories every single day. We just said, ” Let’s just do the Sunday, the main day we’re at service, for the time being, let’s just do that really well. Let’s do excellent content [00:27:00] on stories and then, throughout the week , we’ll post a few times here and there. We get a lot of direct messages on that. People saying, “That’s so funny” or ” I love this song” or different things like that. People interact with us there. It’s mostly just Sundays.
Brady Shearer: Do you get a lot of questions?
Billy Humphrey: No, not a lot of questions. No.
Brady Shearer: Interesting. Cool. I was just wondering because my Dms are almost all questions, which, makes sense for who I am and my platform and I was just wondering if that carried over to others as well.
Let’s dive in to [00:27:30] a little bit more of a posting strategy. This is not going to be the traditional posting strategy of post more pictures of people with faces, though when I do look through your Instagram grid, by far, the posts that perform the best are always when there’s a picture of someone’s face in the photo. Also, interestingly, I’ve seen this the same with me, slide show posts perform less good than regular single posts, which, for me, is [00:28:00] so frustrating because Facebook does a good job of this. Facebook will release a new feature and then they’ll be like, “Look, if you use this new feature, we will give you more reach because we want you to use this feature. We are going to encourage you to do it by bribing you. Instagram has not done that with their slide show feature.
They released it where it’s like, you don’t have to post a single image. Now you can post up to 10 and you can slide through them, left and right. Every time I do that, my engagement goes down. I’m like, “Instagram, why would you release this new feature and want me to use [00:28:30] it, but then penalize me ever time I do?” You know, it’s like, “Why are you like that?” So, I’m looking through yours. Have you found something similar? It looks like the numbers would reflect that, but anecdotally, have you seen that also?
Billy Humphrey: I’ve not tracked that, but that is a good thing. You make me want to go back and look at the things we’ve posted now and see if that’s the case. I know we got a good amount of feedback on the kids photos that we were posting, but that’s cause people love kids and seeing photos of that. I’d be interested to go farther back and see some of the slide shows we posted and see if [00:29:00] we are, in fact, getting bad feedback on that. That would be good to know.
Brady Shearer: And it may just be me. That may not be entirely true. I keep scrolling further down in your Instagram account and I think I found the one with the most likes. This was July 24th. You probably had less followers then than you do now and its a meme of Drake. [laugh 00:29:21] I just want to give you props on creating a meme, putting it on Instagram, having it be of Drake, and having it be your highest performing [00:29:30] post. [laugh 00:29:31] The post the day before had 28 likes, this post has 138 likes. The post the day after had 34. It wasn’t even close because people like funny things. This is an encouragement to every church listening. Its okay to have fun and not take yourself too seriously, its okay to be funny and you know had another one of someone dabbing, you have one of a person holding a goat, I think. Is that a goat?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, it was our Easter service.
Brady Shearer: [00:30:00] Yes, with the caption “Friday vibes”. It’s okay to have fun, that’s okay. I highly encourage it, not only is okay, its strategically effective and recommended because it almost always will perform better.
Let’s dive back into that posting strategy that I just mentioned, okay so this isn’t posting to your feed per se, this is about following other businesses, professionals, institutions and local shops in your community and interacting with them on Instagram. So, this is something that I think every church [00:30:30] can and should be doing. It doesn’t require you to have a photographer on staff, it doesn’t require you to even do a ton of work, it should take only about ten to fifteen minutes every day. So set aside time.
What you can’t do is do this all in one day, you can’t batch produce this, you can’t schedule it all out at once like on Monday and let it run throughout the week. You need to do this each and every day on your own. Take 10 to 15 minutes and follow one, two or three new local shops, local businesses, local professionals [00:31:00] like a real estate broker or a doctor or a lawyer, or whatever it might be in your community, follow them on Instagram. You as Church are trying to get more followers, I mean that’s the whole goal of this entire coaching call, right Billy? So is every other business and professional and shop in your community. There trying to think to themselves, “Man, I’m a Mexican restaurant, I’m trying to use Instagram and leverage it”.
Literally, the Mexican restaurant that I go to everyday, is doing this exact thing, I’ve had many conversations with their social media manager. And they are like, [00:31:30] how do I grow in all this stuff? I’m like, “Man, my church in this community is also trying to do the same thing on Instagram, those two should follow each other, like each other’s posts and interact when its appropriate.” That’s how you grow on Instagram. More comments, more likes, those are good signals, too, that aforementioned Instagram algorithm.
One thing that you can do is lead by example. You can begin following the Lawyers and the Doctors, the Dentists, the gyms, the restaurants, and the local shops and the coffee joints. You can follow all of them in [00:32:00] your community. Not only will this signal to them, Hey, We’re a church for the community, we really care about Tallahassee, we’re not just saying that. We want to foster community; even on a platform such as Instagram. In a digital way. Then, you go in and you like the posts, you comment on their posts. You show up, on a daily basis, on these people’s feeds. You don’t wan to overdo it, you don’t want to do it on personal accounts, I would say, but its perfect for doing this with other businesses, [00:32:30] with other restaurants, doing this wi … well, you’re not a restaurant or a business, but doing this with the other institutions within your community.
It’s a two-fold successful approach, because one, it’s gonna signal to them, Hey, we’re a church for the community, we care about the community, we don’t just say that, we want to support the other institutions in our community. We want to support the doing great things in our community, that are making great food, are making sure our teeth are clean, are healing or wounds, making us great coffee, and fighting our lawsuits for us; we want to support [00:33:00] these people, but it’s also great getting that reciprocation from them in the long term. I would take five, 10, 15 minutes, every single day and do that. Just one to two comments per day, after you’ve followed every one that you can follow, is gonna produce huge dividends in the long term.
This goes back to the patience. You do this over a six to 12 month period and it’s gonna be a huge win.
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, that’s brilliant. I love that. We’re gonna definitely be doing that.
Brady Shearer: Perfect. Yeah, [00:33:30] it’s one of those things, like I said, doesn’t require you to create more content, it can be done directly from your mobile device, you don’t need a photographer, and it’s gonna create so much good will and reciprocity amongst you and all the other institutions in your community, which is gonna be a win beyond social media and beyond just your followers. Definitely recommended.
Billy Humphrey: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: Let’s keep moving through, we’ve got compelling Instagram content, we talked about that. Apps for Instagram, sounds like you are [00:34:00] caught up all on there. Okay, great. Let’s go into the second to last big advanced thing on Instagram. That is Hash tag. Instagram is still one of the few apps, if not the only one, that really can be growth hacked. If you’re on Facebook and you want to grow, Facebook’s saying, basically, “Pay us money”. Unless you have a drastically viral video, which, if its of a cute goat, which apparently, you could maybe pull off, Billy, [laugh 00:34:28] its just not gonna happen. Also, saying [00:34:30] goat and saying the word Billy, was pretty funny, [laugh 00:34:32] but I’ll blow pass that.
What I will say is this, Instagram allows you to growth hack using hash tags. Every single post, you can use up to 30 hash tags. That’s the limit. Beyond that, you won’t be able to. Tell me about what you’ve been doing with hash tags, if anything at all, Billy.
Billy Humphrey: We’ve gone back and forth with tryina post the 30 hash tags. We’ve need to figure out a better strategy for it, honestly, because we will use them and [00:35:00] we’ll get some likes, extra likes, we’ll get some extra follows, but I think the problem is, we haven’t done it consistently enough to really track how much growth or how many likes are these photos getting than photos without the hash tag. That’s something we haven’t really been pushing. We’ve been trying to push good content, but if you’re putting good content out there and you’re not adding the hash tags to get new followers, then I feel like we’re missing a huge part of the puzzle right there. Just doing that consistently would help.
Brady Shearer: [00:35:30] Yeah, absolutely. You’re already working hard to create good images, now you don’t want to lose that. I’ve heard it said that, and this is an extreme, but I have that I follow online that truly believe this and they have massive audiences and huge businesses. They’re like, “We spend 20 percent of our time creating content, 80 percent of that time promoting that content”. That just comes down to the simple fact of, you can create all that good content, but if you’re not using the best practices to get it out there into the world, you can not [00:36:00] actually benefit from it.
What I would do is, there’re a couple of different things, first, you want to put int he work ahead of time to get these 30 hash tags written down. I like to think that there are three different types of hash tags for Instagram. Number one, there’s your custom hash tags. These will be ones, like you mentioned earlier, that are custom to people in your church, so what do you do? People of Engage, was that it?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah.
Brady Shearer: Perfect, so I would have just one, two or three of these. I would obviously put it, Engage Church. You could put in, people [00:36:30] of Engage, and use those two. Those are the first two hash tags always, cause those are the two that are completely yours and you just want to lock those in, be consistent with those. If you start a new campaign, you could add a third one. If you have a big Easter one, you could put in Hash tag Billy goat and run with that or something. [laugh 00:36:47] Although, you want it to be a little bit more custom than that. Essentially, you want to create your own hash tag.
Now the second type of hash tag would be community specific hash tag. These are going to be specific to Tallahassee or to Florida. For instance, [00:37:00] for me in Niagara Falls, we’ll often use, hash tag Niagara region or hash tag Niagara Falls, Canada, because those are existing community hash tags that people use. You want to piggy back on top, in this instance, of an existing hash tag that is specific to your community. You can go to that explorer tab inside of Instagram and start searching. If you open up Instagram and click the magnify glass, hit the search bar, search Tallahassee, and see what comes up in the tags, [00:37:30] are. So if I search for Tallahassee, let’s see what come’s up. Tallahassee hair and Tallahassee braids, okay, my thought is that- that is some type of special hair that is specific, not you, but to an actual hair style. I would blow past that one. Don’t worry about Tallahassee hair.
Tallahassee as its own hash tag, has 500 thousand posts. Tallahassee boutique and Tallahassee FL, 10 thousand posts. [00:38:00] Tallahassee salon, Tallahassee, oooh, Tallahassee bound, Tallahassee museum, Tallahassee Florida, Tallahassee fitness, Tallahassee Tech, there are tons. Now what you wanna pay special attention to, and I mentioned this with the hashtag Tallahassee 500,000 posts, is pay special attention to the number of posts in this specific hashtag. I recommend that you target hashtags with a post count between 1000, and you know, let say a quarter million – 250,000. That’s just [00:38:30] like an ish, so you can go a little bit above and a little bit below. That’s a pretty good range for targeting hashtags that aren’t so big that you’re just going to get lost in the noise, but are also not so small that there’s really no benefit to using an actual hashtag or a post count that’s just so low.
So, the hashtag Tallahassee has 500,430 posts. That might be just so big that its not worth your time. Now it is your home, [00:39:00] like your actual town, so I would probably use it. It’s not millions and millions, which happens a lot on Instagram, like, if you used hashtag fitness, there’s no hope. That’s still local enough that you could probably jump in there.
The final type of hashtag I’d recommend is just general faith, spiritual and church hashtags. So something like hashtag Jesus is love or, hashtag Church family or something like that. These aren’t going to be local or specific to you, but they are specific to what you as a church are doing and they’ll help you still show [00:39:30] up in the Instagram hashtags some people are searching, which is always a win. So those are kinda the three types of hashtags, again, I would do some research ahead of time and create this list of 30 hashtags that you’re gonna put in to every post that you do.
What you can just do from there is, just check and re-jigger those hashtags every three months lets say, like every quarter, four times a year, twice a year. You don’t have to change them too often. What you can do is use a tool like Iconosquare for instance, and track [00:40:00] which hashtags are performing the best. So you can look at your 30 hashtags, and this is something that you’ll have to do after posting for about a month or two, but have Iconosquare track it, and then you can look at the hashtags and be like, okay these are like the 10 that are actually helping, these are the 20 that aren’t lets take those 20 and see if we can find ones that’ll actually work for us. Eventually, you’ll have 30 hashtags that are all helping and then you can just switch out you know, two to five or two to 10 every three months or so. That’s kinda the process to playing that hashtag game, which, is [00:40:30] a free way of growth tracking on Instagram. Again, look for hashtags with a post count between 1,000 and 250,000.
The only other thing that I would say is, talking about where you actually post the hashtags. So I would always recommend not posting them in the caption. What you wanna do is post them in the first comment and what this will do is, it will have it be so you don’t actually take up space in your caption with a ton of hashtags cause 30 hashtags don’t really look great and they take up a ton of space [00:41:00] in the caption and it just looks gross, so always put them in the first comment.
What I would also recommend is using this hack that I use if you go to the @bradyshearer Instagram account you can see me do it on a ton of my posts, which is, I’ll hide the hashtags in the first comment, and then what I’ll do is, the first four lines of that first comment, each line will just be a single period. So it will be period, line break, period, line break, period, line break, period, line break, 30 hashtags. Sounds crazy.
Billy Humphrey: [00:41:30] Okay.
Brady Shearer: The reason I do this is because once you get past that many lines, once you get past three or four lines on Instagram. Instagram will automatically collapse that comment, so that it won’t show up as all those hashtags. So you’re hiding the hashtags in the comment, in the first comment, and then you’re hiding it even further within that first comment by hiding it after four lines of just a single period. This will collapse that comment automatically and now your hashtags are hidden. People can obviously un-collapse the comment and see them but those hashtags won’t [00:42:00] show up and be like really gross and everyone will see them. It just cleans up the post a little bit more. Not that hashtags are anything shady or something to be hidden, but you just don’t want them to get in the way of real comments, get in the way of the caption, those things are important and you can use those two little tips to hide the actual captions, have them collapsed automatically.
Final thing that I will say, and this pertains to stories because we haven’t talked too much about stories. One thing that is a huge way of gaining more story views and tangentially more followers is to tag [00:42:30] your city every time you post an Instagram story. So you can do this with the location. You create a story, you can hit the little location addition inside of your Instagram’s stories creator and then just make sure that you tag, “hey, we’re in Tallahassee”. That will then get picked up periodically within the overall Tallahassee story, which, people are watching and then again you’re introducing yourself to a new audience that isn’t previously connected to you.
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, when we do [00:43:00] stories on Sunday, adding the location of the church, it definitely get us a lot more views, a lot more. We’ve seen people from the views even follow us so that’s been helpful or click on our church name because you get these stats. Instagram does a great job at giving you a lot of stats on your stories.
Brady Shearer: Yeah, absolutely and you’re using a business account right?
Billy Humphrey: Yes
Brady Shearer: Perfect, perfect. That kind of another thing, if you’re not already using a business account on Instagram make sure you transition over to it right away. Its free, doesn’t mean you have to spend anything. [00:43:30] It will enable you to do ads if you want, but its basically gonna give you those analytics, that ability, just to mention that you won’t get from a personal accounts.
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, thank you Brady. That was good.
Brady Shearer: Awesome, so, final thing that I talk about Instagram is contests. It looks like you’ve run one or two before. Can you talk a little bit about those contests or giveaways that you’ve hosted on Instagram?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, we actually, this is somethin very new that were doing. We just finished one. We have a hoodie that we were doing a contest for and [00:44:00] we had people tag two of their friends. I do not remember what we said off the top of our head, two of our friend that would look great in this hoodie or something like that. You had to like the post, you had to follow us, and you had to tag two of your friends. we got a lot of feedback on that and that really helped us jump in two weeks I think we jumped, 20 people or 25 people I believe, it was somewhere around that, which, was really helpful for us. That’s something I wanted to ask you about too is, how do you keep contests going? Is the best way to do it just, [00:44:30] like, follow us, and tag two friends? Is there other ideas? Cause we wanna do the least amount of work as possible for people but also getting the most recognition and the most traffic to our Instagram page as possible.
Brady Shearer: Yeah, the like, tag, and follow is a pretty common way of doing contests on Instagram. I don’t love the tagging because anytime I get tagged in a post, it notifies me and then I have to go in and click through the notification just to get rid of that little red number one, which is [00:45:00] frustrating. So, I don’t like the tagging thing. But, it can be useful. I personally choose not to do it.
What I do is I almost always only, for Instagram contests, is its just I only care about the follow. I care about you being connected. Though, I think the like is something I should introduce, just so that every new follower can introduce to their algorithm, hey, I like this post, which would signal, you know to Instagram’s algorithm hey show this next post to this person. So I think that’s huge, I would probably remove the tagging, if it was me. [00:45:30] Then I would use something like, gleam.io. G-l-e-a-m, for mommy, gleam.io to host a contest, which is just a way to like track how many follows your getting and then you could automatically select a winner. That’s how I would do it. What percentage would you say, of your church, of those 400 people are connected to you on Instagram?
Billy Humphrey: Of the 400?
Brady Shearer: Yeah.
Billy Humphrey: Oh, in our church. Aw man, I’d say, percentage, if I had to guess. 60 [00:46:00] percent, maybe?
Brady Shearer: Cause I would say, you know not all 400 are on Instagram obviously but…
Billy Humphrey: Right.
Brady Shearer: Like there’s some more low hanging fruit that you could target. You’ve got, let say, 150 people inside of your church that aren’t connected to an Instagram and those are 150 that are your highest volume of people that are connected to you, your hot audience you’re red, hot audience. So, hosting a contest within church from Sunday, where the only [00:46:30] way to enter would be to follow you on Instagram would be a great way [crosstalk 00:46:33] to incentivize those people to get off their butts and finally follow the church on Instagram.
You could even do one that isn’t targeted outward, but its targeted inward and you could have it where like you know you gotta like every post for a week and follow us, and then were gonna choose one of those people to be a winner. That would also mean that you don’t have to use like a gleam.io, which does cost money to run a contest. I would say there’s some low hanging fruit that you could target right away, in that respect.
Billy Humphrey: I like that, that’s really good Brady, [00:47:00] thank you.
Brady Shearer: Well that’s everything on my list for all of the Instagram stuff that I would recommend. I know we didn’t dive too much into stories. It sound like you’ve got a good handle on that. I think, again, more low hanging fruit would be just to do stories starting daily, or even, add in a couple more days beyond just Sunday, and keep tagging your city. That will be a great way to show up even more, right? Cause right now, you’re showing up only once a day in that global Tallahassee story. If you start showing up there multiple times each week or every day, that’s gonna be a huge way to get more views, [00:47:30] more follows as well.
If you could leverage that with recurring segments, you don’t always have to come up with new stuff, like, talk to the pastor Tuesday or whatever it might be. You know? Worship Wednesday, where you drop a song. Whatever it might be to find ways to be more consistent on stories I think that would be a huge win.
And we don’t know this for sure, but there’s a chance that, when you produce more stories along with posts within the news feed, Instagram is more likely to show you’re content to people because they know that you’re using both rather than just one [00:48:00] of their content options.
But, before we sign off are there any kind of questions pertaining to all of the stuff we tackled, I know that it was a lot, so any kind of questions or feedback like, “Oh, well, what about this,” clarification maybe?
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, I got one for ya, I mean I could ask questions all day to ya, obviously, but, let me ask one is that. When it comes to getting photos and getting content we have, I mean for our church we have a Cannon t5i, we have a couple different lenses but we don’t have a lot of people that are trained with photography. [00:48:30] They’re willing to learn. What do you think the best way to teach someone about photography is? Should we find an online tutorial that we pay for? Is there a youtube channel that says, you know, watch these videos and you can learn how to be a great photographer? I mean we don’t need somebody to be the best photographer in Tallahassee, but somebody that, at least, knows how to take photos that we can rotate on Sundays, or constantly having our own photos to use and not wanting, or having to pull from stock photos or anything like that, or re-posting [00:49:00] pictures that we’ve already used and so. What do you think? Is there any kind of tips and ideas of how to get more people taking great photos?
Brady Shearer: The nice thing about cameras that we now have is that they’re so auto, that if you just understand the basics of photography, you’re gonna be able to capture great looking photos. You could go … one of my favorite places to do courses is creative live, creativelive.com. They have a couple of courses that are relatively affordable like, the Ultimate Photography for Beginners, the Ultimate Digital Photography Fundamentals, [00:49:30] where, basically, they would show you that walk though of, “If your new, here’s how to do it.” You could, also, just type, an intro into photography into youtube, which, I just did.
There’s a ton of great stuff. The first one that pops up for me is … the name of it is, Photography Tutorial iso, aperture and shutter speed. Really, that exposure triangle of those three things, iso, aperture, and shutter speed, is the number one thing that your beginner photographers are gonna need to understand. Like I said, photography and the cameras we are using [00:50:00] now, these digital ones, if you got a cannon or a Nikon is doing so much great on its own, automatically, that you just need to understand that exposure triangle to be able to actually capture good stuff. That camera is going to manage the focus. That camera is gonna manage so much. If you could just set it up for them, like, okay, “Here’s your neutral color guide, ‘here’s how you do to get the focus.'” You just need to understand iso, aperture, and shutter speed. That exposure triangle.
That’s kind of the biggest barrier to beginners, they just don’t understand that. Once you can get them to understand that, then you’ve got a [00:50:30] winner. You’ve got a great starting point and foundation to build upon. Intro to photography, into youtube, it’s a 15 minute tutorial from the channel, teksyndicate, tek is spelt t-e-k. Its got two million views. You can just run your volunteers through that. It’s gonna be free. You wouldn’t have to spend money on a course over at creative lab, though, I still do recommend something like that, if its feasible. That would be a great starting point.
We’ve also got a podcast that I did with Dave Adamson. Pro church podcast Dave [00:51:00] Adamson into google. It’s called building a volunteer photography team at your church. It’s prochurch podcasts number 129. If you go to pro church tools.com/129 that, we talk about, less of the specifics of camera settings, like the exposure triangle, but how to actually take good photos within a church. Dave is over at North point with Andy Stanley. We talk about the two most important elements of great social media photos and simple photo composition tricks that are specific [00:51:30] to churches and how to begin to find more photographers within your church, the best training tips to give to your volunteer photographers, how they share their photos live within the service. Even gear options for every budget, Dave was great with that.
That would be a great podcast to go through with your team or go through and pass on to your volunteers, the best tips and tricks that you pull out of it. Again, not specific to exposure triangle and camera settings, but more specific to the work flow of capturing photos on a week by week basis [00:52:00] and recruiting volunteers for church in particular.
Billy Humphrey: Yeah, perfect. Awesome. I’m definitely gonna check that out. Thank you.
Brady Shearer: Awesome Billy. Well this has been a blast and I know it’s going to be helpful to so many people. Instagram is my favorite platform that we’re on right now. I love it. I still use twitter the most for personal use, but for business, Instagram is just crushing for us. I think a ton of pro church nation is gonna elicit a huge amount if value from this. Thanks for coming on this show and being vulnerable. All the best in accomplishing your goal, which, like I said, I do believe is an inevitability. [00:52:30] Any final questions for me before we sign off?
Billy Humphrey: Man, I think you answered a bunch of them. I’m just appreciative for everything you do and for the Pro Church Nation. We’ve been a long time fan and follower of you. Thanks for the feedback man. I really appreciate it.
Brady Shearer: It’s been a blast having you on, Billy. Make sure to put in that hard work and the patience. Like I said, I think you’ve got the skill necessary to accomplish it. Make sure to hit me back up when you pass City Church.
Billy Humphrey: [laugh 00:52:55] We will, we will.
Brady Shearer: Take that City church. [laugh 00:52:57] alright, Billy its [00:53:00] been a blast, thanks again, man.
Billy Humphrey: Thanks man I appreciate it. [music 00:53:04]
Brady Shearer: Thanks for tuning in to the pro church podcast coaching edition. My hope is that by hearing what’s happening behind the scenes in another church, you can see that no church has it all figured out. We’re all on this journey together. To that end, if you have a question for me, the best way to get it answered is on our weekly question and answer show called the askbradyshow. You can submit your question to [email protected] Sending in a video question, will put you in immediately at the front of the line. [00:53:30] You can watch every episode of Ask Brady at askbrady.tv