Church of England launches Instagram guide for parishes as they try to

Figures released last October showed that the Church of England reached more people on social media than in traditional services. Around 1.1m attend services at least once a month, while the church estimates 1.2m people are “reached” every month via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Responding to the figures, Sam Donoghue, head of children and youth ministry support in the Diocese of London, said the diocese had invested £3m in trying to attract young people to church, and some churches had started Instagram accounts to this end.  The digital advisers said churches who were doing Instagram right include St Benet Fink church in Tottenham, which has posted photographs of sun streaming through the windows as mass is celebrated, as well as its post-service canapes. St Mary’s Walthamstow, which posts a mixture of aesthetically pleasing images of the church and inspirational quotes from biblical and religious leaders, was also lauded.  The church has offered up tips including avoiding blurred or pixelated photos, including questions in captions “to encourage conversation” and adding location tags to make photos easier to find. Insta-churches are encouraged to use 11 hashtags on their posts, apparently the ideal number for engagement.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Instagram is best known for playing host to Love Island contestants, polished young “influencers” and healthy eating bloggers. But the social network could soon be flooded with arty pictures of pews and altars as the Church of England encourages its parishes to sign up in order to woo younger worshippers. It has launched an “introduction to Instagram” aimed at helping confused clergy who are finding it “hard to keep up with the latest digital trends and the platforms being used by young people”. The Church’s digital team has spent a year training churches in how to use social media “strategically” for “evangelism and discipleship”, and says it will have trained 1,000 parishes by Christmas. Its advice is that “every church needs a Facebook page” but that the choice between Instagram and Twitter “depends on your audience, and where they are more likely to be.”In particular Instagram is “a great place to show the personality of your church, who attends and what kind of events and services you offer.”  read more