UKirk UTK has one of the most far-reaching Instagram pages in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and is a primary means of communication used to tell the many stories of life and ministry to our followers. We believe that if we are doing something well, it’s important to share and equip others with resources to do likewise. That’s what this blog seeks to do; this blog aims to help you and your business, church, or organization to better understand and utilize different social media platforms.

When I began writing down notes for this blog it was hard. I just assumed everyone knew how to run business or group social media accounts and when I was going over some of my talking points with people they informed me very quickly that they didn’t know any of those “rules”. This is not to say I know it all because I learn new things every day but I do hope these points provide a helpful guide for you as you manage an Instagram account other than your own.

Side note, as we go throughout this blog I will refer to any account that isn’t your personal account as an “business” account.

There’s no “I” in “We” – Being mindful of your online voice

First and foremost, never use first person in your captions or posts! When you make a post, remember that you are speaking on behalf of your institution. Using “we”, “our” or “us” is more professional and allows your followers to hear from your company and not from you, individually. This distinction is healthy and good for business. I will admit, sometimes it is strange to post about yourself in the third person but power through because it’s for the best.

Let’s say, for example, that you are hosting an event that you are emceeing and you are trying to promote it on social media. You might be inclined to say something like, “Join me tonight for Scary Storytelling at UPerk. I will be emceeing and I hope to see you there”. That’s not good, don’t post that. Instead, try something like this, “Join us tonight for Scary Storytelling at UPerk. Our very own Jaclyn Beeler is emceeing, you don’t want to miss this spooky event”. Okay, the end might be a little cheesy but you get the picture.

Don’t make it personal – Keeping business and personal accounts separate

Now that we know to only use third person, let’s talk about how important it is to separate your personal social media posts from your business posts. Your vacation pictures are beautiful and your children are cute but they do not belong on the business page you are managing, even if it is your own business. Keep business, business and personal, personal. People don’t want their feeds being spammed with your personal things, they get that enough from their friends, and they are very likely to unfollow you if you keep up this practice.

There can be too much of a good thing! – Content frequency

When you manage a business account, people are already a little hesitant to follow you; they are afraid you will spam their feeds or try to sell them something. I try to be extra careful about how much I post from the accounts I run because of this. Posting daily is okay but if you are planning to post more than one post in a day make sure you don’t post back to back. Even though things don’t show up in chronological order anymore you can still see when someone posts back to back and spams your feed and you don’t want to be that business. Wait a few hours in between posts, people will appreciate it. Trust me, I know it is hard to wait sometimes if you have something exciting to share but just wait, everyone will be just as excited to see it a couple hours later. 

The best times to post (this can change depending on your target demographic) are typically first thing in the morning, around noon and then between 4 and 7pm, when people are taking a break from work/school or winding down for the day, that’s not to say other times aren’t okay but I definitely wouldn’t post anything after 10pm.

Posting too often is one way to annoy people, another would be posting ridiculously long captions! Don’t do that. If you have more to say, write a blog and share the link or find a shorter way to say what you want to say. People do not want to be bombarded with text, they want it to be easy to read and straight to the point. We all value our time and we need to also value our consumers/followers time as well. If you write a long caption and think, man that is long, don’t post it. Be mindful.

As for Twitter, it is a different beast. Post as often as you want. Twitter is great for live reporting events, sending out short updates, polls, engaging with your followers on a more personal level. Twitter rules are way different than other platforms. With that said, I wouldn’t focus as much on Twitter but if you do follow @MoonPie and be witty and fun like they are! (A UTK Alum actually runs that account, very cool!)

Picture it – Photograph quality

So, what do people want to see from businesses on social media? Here in Knoxville there is a local dairy farm called Cruze Farm and their social media and brand management is amazing. I hear people around me all the time say that it’s their goal to get on Cruze’s social media, why? People like to see themselves and people they know and can relate to. Since I started managing the UKirk social media accounts, and now a few other business accounts, I have noticed that people don’t “like” posts as much with stock photos or photos with words over them. I will post photos with students and some of them will make comments like “I am UKirk famous”, which makes me giggle but feel a little proud at the same time.

Take your time though, people want to see QUALITY photos of people and things your company is doing. Be thoughtful when capturing a moment, don’t be sloppy, it will pay off. If you don’t have a nice camera, that is okay! All I have is my iPhone 8 Plus, I just switch it to portrait mode and fake it ‘till I make it but I always take my time and make sure each photo is thought out. People spend an embarrassing amount of time on social media in a single day, don’t let them scroll past your posts because they aren’t interesting enough or because they are sloppy. Take pride in what you’re doing, Social Media management is very important in brand management for any business and more and more companies are hiring social media managers because of this.

As for pictures, make sure you have parental consent if you are taking and posting pictures for your business of a person under the age of 18. Most churches and schools have a form for this, if you don’t have one it’s worth thinking about.

Getting a following – How to add followers to your social media accounts

I have talked a lot about followers and not losing them but, how do you get them to begin with? On Twitter and Instagram, just go follow people, but not too many! Follow relevant people, people that have something in common with your business. For UKirk, I follow UTK students, local businesses, area churches and other UTK and UKirk accounts. For the UTK School of Communication Studies account that I run I follow UTK students, local businesses, alumni, and other UTK accounts. When you follow these other accounts, a majority of them will follow you back, and you will then begin to grow your following. But remember, don’t go overboard. You don’t want to follow 4,000 people and then have 800 or 1,000 followers. Be somewhat deliberate about who you follow. Also, like other people’s posts. I scroll through and like just about every post on my timeline, sometimes even taking the time to comment. It’s important to be engaged with the people you are following if you are expecting them to engage with your post.

As for Facebook, invite people to like your page and ask employees, church members, students, clients, to invite others to like your page. It is sometimes easier to get a following on Facebook than it is on Twitter and Instagram because you can send direct invitations to people to like your page and heck, invite all of your friends! If someone doesn’t want to like your page, they don’t have to accept the invitation. Once you begin it just begins to snowball and build momentum. Someone that likes your page may share a post and then their friends see it, resulting in more page likes. Remember though, don’t spam people’s feed!

To boost or not to boost? – Why boost a post?

Now that you have a following and your posting some quality photos and captions, you might be wondering “when is it appropriate to boost a post?”. I personally don’t like to pay Facebook and Twitter to boost posts. Instead, I like to grow my following and let posts “boost” organically but sometimes you just need to fork over the money. I usually boost posts that advertises an event or killer video “ad” and it could help with fundraising or sales; boost that kind of stuff!

#whatarehashtagsanyway – How to properly use a hashtag

Hashtags, are they worth it? I would argue that they are and plus, you can follow hashtags on Instagram now! With that said, hashtags are only worth it if you use them correctly. Don’t use some obscure hashtag that no one has ever used before and no one ever will. Hashtags are meant to group things and find other accounts with similar interest. Also, don’t separate words in hashtags like, #I #love #hashtags.

For UKirk I use hashtags like #PCUSA, because we are part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as well as things like #UTKnoxville, #Rockytop, #GoVols, #Presbyterian, #UKirk, #Presby… you get the picture. I use these hashtags because they align with our context and are related to what we are doing and who we are as a ministry. I want people at UTK to see our posts so I use UTK hashtags to do so. I also want other UKirks and other Presbyterian churches to see our posts so I use hashtags that those groups would also use.

It is also important to have a hashtag that your business uses for posts that not only the business makes but post that employers, customers, supporters, congregants, make about your business can all be grouped together. Here at UKirk we use #UKirkUTK. When making a hashtag, don’t make it too complicated and try to make sure it isn’t already used. Using hashtags that your town, city or community uses is also a great idea like, #KnoxvilleTN, #Farragut, #NorthKnox, things like that.

Take pride in what you are doing. Consumers/church goers/supporters are relying, more and more, on social media and less and less on websites. When you keep your businesses’ social media accounts up to date, relevant, and aesthetically pleasing, it makes it easier for your followers to keep up with what you are doing. You have been entrusted with telling the story of a particular business or organization, take pride in it and you will see growth in followers that are invested and interested in what your businesses or organization is up to. Happy posting!

Jaclyn Beeler
Communications Coordinator