Jason Caston, an internet church developer at T.D. Jakes' The Potter's House of Dallas, spoke on the importance of ministries using social media platforms and the ability that it gives churches to reach the masses when used to its maximum potential, during day two of 'The Nines' virtual conference on Wednesday.
"What would your church look like if you could reach 10, 20, 40, 100,000 more people than you're currently reaching?" asked Caston during his five-minute message, the standard length of time leaders speaking during the conference. "That's the opportunity that social media has given us."
Caston is also the author behind iChurch, a book that explains how digital technology can advance a ministry online. Since coming onboard to The Potter's House, Caston has led a social media team that reaches more than 3 million connections through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Google + and Pinterest.
However, their online network did not always attracted millions. Upon arriving at the ministry, he says the church had activated social media platforms that were barely utilized.
"Our team implemented a strategy that worked to increase engagement and communication and in three short years, we've built a thriving social media community which is now an important part of the ministry," said Caston.
Caston says the success of their ministry's large online presence is due in part to their use of inspirational messages, including encouraging posts that they publish at the beginning and end of each day.
"This keeps our followers going throughout the day because everyone wants to get inspiration or educational content from their social media daily," he said.
Providing information might seem obvious, but Caston says disseminating information through each platform, including images about their ministry's events, has proven successful in engaging with their followers.
"We want to make sure they stay connected, no matter what social media site they're on," said Caston. "We use the same content in different formats according to each platform whether it's images, graphics or video."
Oftentimes, online followers might be inclined to unfollow a ministry's online account because they never respond, says Caston. However, ongoing communication is an important component of running a successful online community.
"We don't want to be that arrogant ministry that doesn't response or engage back with our followers, so we try as much as can because we realized that for some people were probably the only ministry that they receive," said Caston. "They might not step foot inside our church or visit our website, so we try to reach out and talk to them because we never know what they're going through that our ministry may have a solution for."
He also noted that consistency is another strategy that proves to be effective in order to remain relevant online and continue to be on followers' radars.
"Make sure content is going out seven days a week, that's not to say we stay in front of our computers every day, we use a program that allows us to schedule our posts." He also added that people should be able to "participate in ministry," meaning social media specialists should request action from their followers such as asking them to share, retweet, pin and like their content.
Canton is also the author of How to Get One Million Social Media Fans and aside from building an online community for The Potter's House, he has also served as a social media specialist for various megachurches throughout the country.