Today, we’ll be exploring how to create and manage a unique webpage for your church’s summer trips and events to keep your congregation informed. More specifically, we’ll discuss how to integrate Instagram into these pages, enabling an interactive way for your group to share their experiences.
As the summer months roll on, many of your members will head out on mission trips. In particular, we are focusing on a high school mission trip where most of the youth are active Instagram users. By allowing them to post their photos to Instagram, tag your ministry, and add a specific hashtag, we can filter out specific memories related to their trip and display them on the dedicated event page. This allows the participants to use a medium most of them are used to while also allowing others to participate, even if they’ve never used Instagram before.
How to Make it Happen
In the below video, I’ll walk you through how to set up this page and the Instagram feed. We’ve also written instructions below to go with the video. Enjoy, and please let me know how it goes!
7 Steps to Make it Happen
- Create a Dated Event Page
- Our first step is to create a webpage just for this event. We highly recommend doing this every year for your Vacation Bible School (VBS), mission trip, or any other church event. By creating a dedicated page, you provide a single point of reference for people to stay informed about the ongoing event. This will also serve as an archive to look back on in later years.
- Enhancing Your Page
- To make your event page more engaging, consider integrating videos and other media for visitors to engage with. Here’s a post we wrote on using Youtube with your church website. This is also the space where we’ll integrate the Instagram shortcode, pulling in photos from your ministry tagged with a specific hashtag (but we want more than just an image feed on this page).
- If possible, a great addition to this page is a live stream option. Whether there’s a professional event stream or a simple cell phone live stream, providing live updates can create a sense of real-time connection for parents and other members who aren’t physically present at the event. Check out our webmaster class on live streaming for a good primer.
- Moreover, consider creating daily blog post updates for your event. You can create a blog post category (say, 2023 Mission Trip) and add daily posts categorizing them under it. Then create a feed from this category and place it on this event page. Check out our webmaster class on why you should use your blog.
- Incorporating Instagram with Smash Balloon
- To incorporate Instagram into your church’s website, you will need the Smash Balloon Instagram feed. As a Worship Times customer, you can reach out to us, and we will assist you in getting this installed. Any of our newer websites have the capability to place these feeds.
- Upon installation, go over to the settings and link your Instagram account. Make sure your account is a business account to access all features necessary for integrating Instagram into your website. After linking the account, proceed to set up the feed.
- Setting Up the Instagram Feed
- When setting up the feed, opt for tagged posts. This will allow people to tag your ministry in their photos. Additionally, you can add extra filters for specific hashtags. However, be cautious with public hashtags, as they can lead to unexpected and irrelevant photos appearing on your church’s website.
- Filtering and Moderating Your Feed
- You can set up filters based on specific keywords or hashtags. This way, only posts that contain specific words or hashtags will appear in the feed. For instance, you might set a specific hashtag like ‘MT23’ for your mission trip. Learn more about hashtags in our webmaster class.
- While moderation might seem like extra work, it’s useful if you find that the tags are being misused or spammy. It allows you to manually select the photos that you want to appear in the feed.
- Embedding the Instagram Feed
- Once you’ve configured the settings to your liking, copy the embed code and paste it into the desired section on your event page. Be aware that the integration of Instagram will slow down the page’s load time, so choose its placement wisely to not disrupt the user experience.
- Monitor and Update Your Page
- After successfully integrating Instagram and publishing your page, make sure to routinely monitor the content being displayed. Update the website as necessary based on your mission trip’s progress or other event details.
- Don’t forget to remind your participants to use the appropriate tag and hashtags when posting their photos. This will ensure their images show up on your website, creating a collective memory for the community to share and reflect upon.
Incorporating Instagram into your church’s website can provide a real-time and interactive platform for sharing experiences and fostering unity within your community.
Social media doesn’t need to detract from the spiritual experience; when used with intention, it can become a tool for building fellowship and connection. So I encourage you to embrace this technology, and create memorable and engaging experiences for your congregation.
Thank you for reading. If you need help setting up your event page or integrating Instagram, feel free to reach out to us. We are always here to help. Please share with us any pages you create; we’d love to see your work!