That’s right, the Pope tweets. Although Vatican staff have tried to take advantage of social media in the past, only recently have the tweets been addressed directly from the Pope. In what I consider a brilliant move, he has directly answered individually tweeters who have posted questions marked with #askpontifex. If you’re one of those people who spends a lot of their day online and on social media you can probably understand why this is a good idea. There has never been a clearer example of why even the most revered clergyman in the world can take advantage of what bloggers, marketers and social media experts around the world have learned in the last few years.
Don’t worry, nobody is saying that thousands of years of organized religion should be distilled into 140 characters. But when you’re only one man in Rome with millions upon millions of followers, it’s likely that a few of them are falling between the cracks and so simplifying things may not be a bad idea. Any social media campaign first involves connecting people to your network and only then giving them more information about your organization, product or idea.
Benedict XVI’s (or his social media manager’s) decision to respond to specific individuals is also something that those of us using social media can remember. Whether you’re trying to teach someone about godliness or your new blog about shuffleboard, giving out information isn’t enough. Instead, react to your followers. Hear what they’re saying and make sure they feel they’re being listened to. People are much more likely to take in what you have to say if they feel that it’s relevant to them. And even if it isn’t particularly, human nature makes us generally more likely to give attention in places where we’ve gotten attention in the past.
So while I’m sure that the Pope has a lot of great lessons about morality and prayer and whatnot on his Twitter feed, there are also a couple of good lessons about using social media. Can’t hurt to learn those lessons too.