Hashtags for church meetings, events, or outreach opportunities are among some of the most important ways to get your content – and therefore mission – discovered. Choosing the right hashtags for church projects isn’t easy as you can soon become lost in the crowd. How can you choose the best hashtags to be discovered easily?
What are hashtags for church?
Hashtags, or simply tags, are a way of categorizing content such as social media posts. To add hashtags to a post is easy, as you simply type the word or phrase (with no spaces) that you want to use as a tag with the hash symbol (#) at the front. You may know it as the pound sign, or even as a gate, or maybe even that tic-tac-toe looking symbol!
Humans and computer algorithms can show similar content together with the use of hashtags. If you write a post about music, you will tag it with #music. Then, when someone looks at the #music tag, your post will appear in the list. Similarly, non-AI algorithms can identify what your post is about.
Of course, there will be a lot of #music posts, so multiple tags are often used. For example, if you had written about a new song from Bethel, you might add #music #christian #bethel #newsong, drilling down into what it is about.
Generally, between 5 and 8 hashtags get the best results, as any more is seen as spammy, and any less may not have all the information. If in doubt, go for a lower number rather than a higher one.
Hashtags for church work to just the same rules as any other hashtags. If you post a video of a song from your church and only tag it with #music, it will almost certainly become lost in the stream of other music-related posts. Going for #christianmusic or #christian and #music may make it easier to stand out to people who are looking for that kind of post, but there are other ways to get ahead with hashtags.
Choosing hashtags for church
As you have seen, there are essentially multiple classes of hashtag, ranging from the broad to the narrow. Choosing one or two broad hashtags for your post will always help to classify it, but you must make sure to narrow it down too.
For a church Sunday service, hashtags such as #church, #sundayservice, and #christian are a good start. However, if you want to be found locally, add in your location – for example, #london.
Examine what other people are doing and see if you can join in. For example, during the coronavirus lockdown, hashtags like #faithathome were started. Always check that the hashtag is what you think it is for two reasons:
- You want to be associated with something positive and related to your faith. If the hashtag is a million miles away from your intent, be very careful.
- You don’t want to become a tagjacker.
What is tagjacking?
Tagjacking, tag-jacking, or even tag jacking, is a way of hijacking a hashtag and using it for your own benefit. This is usually done intentionally but could be done unintentionally.
If a church holds a conference and starts to post photos with a hashtag like #bigchurchconference, an advertiser could use the same hashtag to attempt to sell items they think a church might want to use. Perhaps, “Discounted iPads for the Pastor Who Wants to Go All-Digital #bargain #bigchurchconference #ipad #discount” – a post that is entirely unrelated to the hashtag for the conference.
If you did it unintentionally, you may have posted “Come to church on Sunday #church #sundayservice #bigchurchconference” – which is again not directly related to the hashtag.
Tagjacking is not recommended in most cases as it can cause more problems than solutions.
Choosing Effective Hashtags for Church Outreach
Reaching those who are interested in #church posts is easy as you simply include the #church hashtag. Reaching out to those who are outside of church is a little trickier. Here are eight ways you can effectively choose hashtags to get your posts noticed.
- Use local references as above. Tag in your town or city, even your suburb if it has a distinctive name.
- Look at trending hashtags. Find something that relates to your outreach, and use the hashtag in your post. Be careful not to tagjack – there will be more leeway with a church outreach than with sales marketing, but ensure your post is within the spirit of the hashtag. Don’t just say, “Come to Church! #trendinghashtag” but instead, “Tired and in need of rest? Sick of running? Find a place to recover #church #olympics #marathon” – the words you choose must play into the meaning of the hashtag.
- Use special day hashtags. Is it St Patrick’s Day? Why not just simply encourage people with “Happy #stpatricksday”? Better yet, incorporate it into a message: “Happy #stpatricksday – this Sunday at church, we’re talking about the life of St Paddy. Join us! #church #sundayservice”
- Communities exist on many social platforms that identify with hashtags. For example, #artistsofinstagram could be tagged in a post that promotes an art exhibition at your church hall.
- Every day has hashtags of its own – #TBT or #ThrowbackThursday is ideal for posting old photos to reminisce (or laugh) about, but #SundayFunday might present an even better opportunity.
- Use phrases and catchphrases. As you’ve seen, hashtags can include multiple words, so look for hashtags like #comeondown or #joinus or #youarewelcome. Some will get better results in searches, while others just provide reassurance that anyone can join in.
- Highlight some part of the background to your post. Posting about Christmas? Why not say “Christmas is coming, and we’d love to see you at our church service #christmas #baby #stable #gifts #star” – using those extra tags will give a more rounded view of your post.
- Research other users. Look at the #church hashtag (or a hashtag of your choosing) and see what other hashtags posts use.
The Difference Between Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Hashtags for Church
These social platforms (and others) allow the use of hashtags to greater or lesser effect. Facebook is the least commonly chosen for using hashtags – they still work, but fewer people interact with them.
On Twitter, you are limited to 280 characters, and each letter of your hashtag will use one of these characters. It is important to choose wisely on Twitter as you still need to get your message across.
Instagram is the home of the hashtag with much more space for writing content. You can use up to 30 hashtags on a single post, but as noted above, just because you can do it, it doesn’t make it a good idea. Around 8 hashtags are fine!
Mix It Up
If you find you’ve been using the same hashtags for months at a time but aren’t getting a response, it’s time to change. Try some different hashtags and monitor how your posts perform. If you don’t measure and keep track, you’ll never know how effective your posts are.
It is important to get your message out there, but it is even more important to make sure it is seen. Don’t miss out on reaching people by neglecting to optimize – choose effective hashtags for church posts to really make a difference.