Time flies by so quickly, and it seems like it goes even faster online. What was popular at one time is considered outdated in just a few months, even weeks! The ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge, Mannequin Challenge, Dabbing, memes, and other Internet phenomena become viral, sweeping through social media and usually becoming ‘stale’ just as quickly as they started.
But what about hashtags? Are they still popular or relevant for churches?
The answer is yes. And no.
The way hashtags are used has changed dramatically since they were introduced – specifically for organizations and businesses. Misusing them can result in spammy or seemingly out-dated posts. If your church account posts come across as out-dated, you can lose followers and potential church guests.
Here are some tips for using hashtags in 2019.
- Represent Your Organization. It is important to remember that you represent the church or organization, not you as a specific person. The hashtags need to be appropriate to the content and reflect the voice of your church as a whole. For example, #YOLO might not be appropriate choice if you are posting about the church potluck (or it might be, I’m not judging).
- Limit and Focus. Hashtags are not meant for every platform – if you primarily focus on Facebook, limit hashtags to maybe one per post. For Instagram try to stick to five or less. Good hashtags not only give you more exposure, but they also open opportunities for potential first time guests. Use local hashtags such as the town your organization is in or create an official hashtag for your church.
- Mind your P’s & Q’s. There is hashtag etiquette. Be mindful that you: #do #not #use #a #hashtag #for #every #word; do a quick search to check that the hashtag you want to use is appropriate; capitalize the the first letter of each word if it’s a long hashtag (example: #FollowMeToCornerstone).
- Follow Local Hashtags. Instagram allows you to find and follow a hashtag! Use this to your advantage. Search local hashtags (like your town, local businesses, sister churches) and follow them. If you see something relevant, like or comment on the photo! It’s a small way for your church to get some visibility, but can have some big impacts on getting people in your doors.
- Make Them Laugh. Humor goes a long way, don’t be afraid to use a trendy hashtag to add some humor to your posts (kinda like the #YOLO example above). Memes are a huge part of social media, and users love to see when organizations or businesses jump on the bandwagon. Wendy’s Twitter account is a great example of an organization that uses humor, and a little bit of sass, to connect with their followers.
- Think outside the box for post ideas and hashtag keywords. Try something once, and if it works, congrats! Do it again. If it fails or has little interaction? That’s ok, scrap it and try something new tomorrow. The lifespan of social media posts are very short (except LinkedIn – those things stay up forever), which gives you the freedom to tweak and try again. There’s also a delete button which can save the day. Use it as needed.