Thou Shall Tweet: 10 things The Pope can teach your business about using Twitter
Easter is not all about the chocolate eggs and treasure hunts, we sometimes forget that it’s actually one of the most important dates in the Christian calendar. The leader of the Catholic Church Pope Francis, an avid tweeter. Not only is he the most influential man of the Catholic religion, Pope Francis is one of the most followed and retweeted leaders on Twitter. In honor of the Pope and his online congregation, we’ve created an eBook with 10 pointers on how the Pontiff can help you get the most out of social media.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Thou Shall Tweet: 10 things The Pope can teach your business about using Twitter
eBook - 10 pointers from the Pontiff
10 pointers from the Pontiff
He’s one of the biggest players on Twitter and made it to the front
cover Rolling Stone but he’s not an A-list Hollywood celebrity and
doesn’t get papped on a regular basis by tabloids.
Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, may not be
the most obvious Twitter icon, but since his election in March 2013 he
has surprised many by embracing Twitter as a valuable tool to
communicate with his global congregation of followers and in 2013
he was named “the most influential world leader on Twitter”.
Here at SocialBro we’ve been so impressed by the Pope’s work on
Twitter that we decided to delve deeper into what makes his tweets
so popular, offering some pointers from the Pontiff and showing you
how to apply them to your business.
From reaching his target audience to understanding
what it is they want, the Pope has quickly realised that
Twitter is the best social media tool to bring the Church
into the 21st century.
We’ve created a list of 10 ways the Pope is getting it right
on Twitter along with our suggestions on how they can
work for your business - we’re convinced that if the
Vatican can, so can you!
Up first is our look at how the Pope compares with
another member of Twitter royalty, Justin Bieber…
The official @Pontifex Twitter accounts, at the time
of writing, have more than 12 million followers.
What’s more, the Pope’s regular, informal tweeting style has made him the
single most re-tweeted world leader!
THE POPE VS JUSTIN BIEBER
how do they compare?
Joined Twitter No.
No. tweets First tweet Typical tweet Lessons learned?
March 2013 12+M 300+ Dear friends, I thank you
from my heart and I ask
you to continue to pray
for me. Pope Francis
In the Gospel we can hear
Jesus speaking to us every
day: may we always carry
with us a small copy of the
Offering insight and
words to live by can
quickly gain you a
May 2009 50.8M 26.5K Check out my single
"ONE TIME" on my
myspace and spread
the word for me.
The #BelieveMovie is now
out on DVD in the
US/Canada & other
countries! Make sure to grab
your copy today! Tweet me
@shots with your copy!
lead to financial
success if you have
a loyal fan-base..
From world leaders to pop stars, Twitter is truly the great leveller of social media,
allowing anyone to broadcast their message to the world and receive instant feedback.
We decided to compare the Twitter accounts of two of the world’s most popular
tweeters to see how they use them and what we can learn...
(Source: Twitter, April 2014)
Get yourself seen
The Pope reaches
his followers online
With a recent study showing that around 62% of
US Catholics - that’s just over 36 million people -
have Facebook profiles, it seems Pope Benedict’s
description of social media as a “digital continent”
isn’t too far off the mark.
Some conservatives in the church may have
initially questioned the use of social media by the
Papacy, but Pope Francis’ belief that a multi-
faceted digital profile (including Twitter) is
required to reach the young people who
represent the future of the church, is bearing fruit.
GO WHERE YOUR FOLLOWERS ARE
It’s vital to take your message to wherever your target audience can be found. Find
out where they are and what they’re interested in and you’ll have a better chance of
successfully engaging with them.
The Pope is overcoming the language barrier
According to a recent survey, 9 out of 10 European internet users
prefer browsing in their own language. To increase his online
followers, the Pope tweets in several languages. His Spanish-
language account is the most popular with over 5.3 million
followers, with the English-language account coming in second
with 3.8 million. Official Papal Twitter accounts have also been
established in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish
and, perhaps most interestingly, Latin, the latter gaining more than
230,000 followers to date despite it being a “dead” language.
Twitter account/language No. followers No. tweets
@Pontifex_es (Spanish) 5.36M 299
@Pontifex (English) 3.89M 301
@Pontifex_it (Italian) 1.64M 299
Table: The Pope’s top 3 Twitter accounts (Source: Twitter, April 2014)
THINK OUTSIDE YOUR OWN LANGUAGE
Don't assume that all your customers want to be spoken to in English, even if they speak
the language. Tailoring tweets for other languages (either on separate Twitter accounts
or on a single account) shows you're responsive to customers and willing to go the extra
mile, something that's always welcome in the business world.
Develop a routine
is a regular tweeter
Studies have shown that by tweeting regularly, users are
more inclined to follow an account. While Pope Benedict XVI
was the first Pope to establish a Twitter account, his tweeting
momentum was sporadic at best, sometimes leaving weeks
between tweets. Pope Francis, on the other hand, tweets on a
regular basis, normally at least once every day.
MAKE TWEETING A DAILY TASK
Creating regular tweets provides followers with an incentive to check out an account more
often, increasing engagement and loyalty in the process. Consider scheduling tweets (it’s
simple with SocialBro) through the day or over a weekend if you know you'll be away from
your computer for a prolonged period.
4 Be timely
Keep an eye on the
Pope Francis often tweets on topical or timely matters,
increasing the potential of the tweet to be shared by other
Twitter users and picked up by the wider media. For
example, on Valentine’s Day this year, the Pope tweeted
“Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful
and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.”
As a result of the timing of this message, the tweet was
almost instantaneously covered by every major news
provider on the planet.
KEEP A DIARY TO HAND
Be aware of key dates in the global calendar and ensure you're ready to tweet relevant
messages. Use Twitter’s new calendar that provides information on key events from
around the globe, allowing you to pre-plan your content. Major sporting events and
celebrity weddings generate millions of tweets but remember that dates such as
Mother's Day are different everywhere, so don't focus on your home country and
neglect followers in other countries.
Get the hashtag habit
Be part of the wider
Since September 2013, Pope Francis has issued a series of
tweets asking his followers to pray for a speedy and peaceful
resolution to the civil war in Syria, which have included the
Creating a hashtag that can easily be adopted by Twitter users
encourages the sharing of thoughts on the subject.
DON´T MAKE A HASH OF HASHTAGS
There's no harm in using established hashtags to get your message across, but be wary of being
seen to be jumping on bandwagons. Consider creating your own hashtags for special events such as
sales or product launches and encourage followers to use them.
Keep it short and sweet
Fewer characters = better
While a tweet can be a maximum of 140 characters in
length, a recent report suggested that tweets with fewer
than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate.
Pope Francis avoids complex language in his tweets and
uses each individual tweet to make a single point, clearly
and succinctly. Not only does this approach encourage
engagement from a wider range of readers, it also aids the
accurate translation of each tweet into a range of different
KEEP IT SIMPLE
With only 140 characters to play with, it pays to keep your message succinct and to the
point. The more space left in a tweet, the more likely it is that followers will retweet it and
add their own comment, another reason to be brief.
Reach for the stars
Believe in the power
of the re-tweet
While many people consider the total number of followers to
be the key benchmark of success on Twitter, an important
statistic is the total ‘reach’ of your tweets, i.e. the number of
times your tweets are shared by others.
For example, while US President Barack Obama has almost
four times as many followers as Pope Francis, Obama’s
tweets are re-tweeted on average 2,300 times, while the
Pope’s Spanish-language tweets are re-tweeted an average
of 11,100 times and his English-language tweets are re-
tweeted an average 8,200 times.
UNDERSTAND WHAT´S POPULAR
Businesses should closely track how often individual updates are re-tweeted, so to better
gauge what is important to their followers and what sort of content they will actively engage
is on numerous
With an estimated 200 social networking sites in
existence, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to
start. Having shown enough insight to create a strong
Twitter presence, the world’s first digital-savvy Pontiff is
now shrewd enough to be keeping an eye on the rest of
the social media market and establishing a presence on
new influential social networks as they rise to
In October 2013, Pope Francis created an official
account on Instagram, which has since racked up
around 18,000 followers.
KEEP AN EYE ON NEW
Social media never stays still, and neither should your social media presence. Keep an
eye on what networks are on the rise and consider being a part of new platforms.
There's no harm in creating an account on a new platform to guarantee your name isn't
taken by a cybersquatter, even if you don't use it.
Make it universal
The Pope thinks outside his
The fact that the Pope's tweets are inspirational in nature and
contain many universal truths means they're not just relevant to
Catholics. Spreading useful messages that are relevant across the
globe means the Papal Twitter account is followed by both
religious and non-religious people and often reported as news by
the media in many countries.
Whether a business is appealing to a local or global audience, chances are it can always
do with attracting new customers. Keep your tweets relevant to as wide an audience
as possible and try not to be too niche.
The Pope keeps
his tweets varied
Reacting to world events and personal experiences means
nobody knows what the Pope will say next. By being
unpredictable and spontaneous his followers are kept
guessing about what he'll tweet next, though they're confident
that the style and tone will stay roughly the same from tweet to
TWEET THE UNEXPECTED
Businesses can keep their followers engaged and curious by giving them the
unexpected, from exclusive previews of product launches to behind the scenes gossip
that can't be found elsewhere.
While it’s unlikely that your business will break the 11 million follower barrier, that doesn’t mean that by following some of the
lessons laid down by the Pope you can’t become a popular and well-respected member of the Twitter community.
Being creative and understanding what your followers want can lead to a fantastic experience for all involved and you’ll soon
see results from the time and effort you spend on Twitter.
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