By Lori Ferguson, Encourage Your Spouse
Are you missing out on a great visual medium to convey your message?
Only a few of our CMBA members are using Instagram as a social media tool. Of those who are using Instagram, most mix their message with images of their personal life to demonstrate “walking the talk” of growing a Godly marriage. Debi Walter, at TheRomanticVineyard.com, said, “…it encompasses all aspects of our lives, which gives it a more personal connection.”
What is Instagram?
Instagram, a social media medium, is a free, downloadable application for mobile device users to share photos and 15-second videos on Instagram, and other social networking sites. The photos have a distinctive square shape, and the image can be enhanced with a number of filters. Instagram launched in 2010 and has over 130 million active users; 70% of Instagram users are female.*
3 Ways to Use Instagram as a Marriage Blogger
Marriage bloggers use Instagram for:
1. Walking the Talk
Jason Graves from SongSix3.org says, “Instagram allows Tiffani and I to visibly demonstrate loving deeds – such as my recent Hershey’s chocolate picture, or special date night sushi dinners being prepared as I wait for the chefs to finish their work. We regularly banter cheerfully back and forth between her personal account and my SongSix3 account. Our readers can see all this.” Using Instagram to be real and show real life as a married couple is one of the most useful aspects of Instagram.
2. Praising and Thanking God
Whether it’s a photo of a stellar sunset, the messy goodness of toddlers, the delight in worship, or the simple joy of connecting with friends, Instagram documents all the reasons we have to praise God and be thankful. You can use a photo-a-day group challenge to keep yourself motivated.
3. Promoting and Connecting
Marriage bloggers use Instagram to promote their ministry in three ways. Hashtags play a big part in connecting with other Instagramers, growing their followers and/or promoting an event or a cause.
• Using images to promote new posts on blogs (images are usually from that post), marriage quotes or tips, are the most obvious way marriage bloggers use Instagram. Hashtags for this purpose include: #marriage #newpost #marriagetip #marriagequote #christcenteredmarriage
• Marriage ministry participants work together on social media to promote a book, movement, or an event, etc. The hashtag #pullingbacktheshades is currently being used by marriage ministry participants to promote a book/movement. Events have been promoted with hashtags like #marriageconference #marriageretreat #buildyourmarriage
• Bloggers, marriage coaches or speakers can use Instagram to document “in-the-moment” photos from all their participants using a hashtag from the event. Many attendees, especially women in their 20’s and 30’s are active on Instagram, so if you give them a hashtag to promote their participation, your event is documented in a personal way from many angles.
Engaging is Key
Like every other social media platform, engagement with people who comment, and reaching out to comment on other Instagramers’ photos is where growth happens. Use hashtags to discover other marriage-minded people – follow them, like their photos, and start making strangers into friends.
Not every social media platform works for everyone. Some people love Facebook, and others are Twitter mavens – you don’t have to use all the social media platforms. Use the ones which you enjoy, and can make an authentic connection with your audience.
Consider using Instagram if any of these apply…
- taking photos with your mobile device is fun
- you like adding words to photos to create a message
- sharing specific personal moments from your life is comfortable
- a long, wordy article isn’t your style – you’re better in a visual medium
- a visual document of your marriage ministry activities will help others
Some of our CMBA members have remarked that they already have an Instagram account never (or rarely) use it, and others commented they would like to try out Instagram.
CMBA members: I challenge you to create an account and upload a few photos! (Valentine’s dates, maybe?)
To begin connecting, reach out to our CMBA members listed below and “follow” them, clicking the heart symbol beside some of their photos to show you admire the picture and… maybe even comment!
A few CMBA members on Instagram:
LeighAnn Dutton – Intentional by Grace http://instagram.com/leighanndutton
Jolene Engle – The Allabaster Jar http://instagram.com/joleneengle
Lori Ferguson – Encourage Your Spouse – http://instagram.com/Robert_and_Lori
Sheila Gregoire – To Love Honor and Vacuum – http://instagram.com/tolovehonorandvacuum.com
Stu Gray – Stupendous Marriage – http://instagram.com/stugray
Tiffani & Jason Graves – SongSix3 – http://instagram.com/songsix3
David and Lorrie McIntyre – One Heart Beat Georgia – http://instagram.com/oneheartbeatga
Debi Walter – The Romantic Vineyard http://instagram.com/theromanticvineyard
(*Details on Instagram are from “The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos and Social Media to Market Your Brand” by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Giogilio)