Thou shall tweet: What the Pope can teach you about Twitter

Pope France, Catholic ChurchPope 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 social media as a valuable tool to communicate with his global congregation.

With more than 12 million followers, Pope Francis has been named the most influential world leader on Twitter, so we decided to delve deeper into what makes his tweets so popular and offer some pointers from the Pontiff.

English is not the only language

According to a recent survey, nine out of ten European internet users prefers browsing in their own language. To increase his online reach, the Pope tweets in multiple languages and his Spanish-language account is most popular with over 5.3 million followers. English comes in second at 3.8 million and official accounts have also been established in Arabic, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Polish and Latin.

Tailoring tweets for other languages, either on separate Twitter accounts or on a single feed, shows that you are responsive to customers and willing to go the extra mile, something that’s always welcome in the business world.

Be timely

Pope Francis often tweets about timely matters, increasing the potential of the tweet to be shared. For example, on Valentine’s Day, the Pope tweeted: “Dear young people, don’t be afraid to marry. A faithful and fruitful marriage will bring you happiness.” Thanks to its topical nature, the tweet was published by almost every major news organisation on the planet.

With Twitter’s new calendar of key events, there’s no excuse not to be on the ball. 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 abroad.

Keep it simple

While a tweet can be a maximum of 140 characters, research suggests that tweets with fewer than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate. Pope Francis avoids complex language, keeping his messages succinct and to the point. Not only does this encourage engagement from a wider range of readers and make it easier for followers to retweet with their own comment, it also aids the accurate translation of each tweet into different languages.

Stay ahead of the game

Social media never stays still, and neither should your social media presence. Having shown enough insight to create a strong Twitter presence, the world’s first digital-savvy Pontiff is keeping an eye on the rest of the social media. In October 2013, Pope Francis created an official account on Instagram, which has since racked up around 36,000 followers.

Try to follow digital developments and consider joining new platforms. There’s no harm in creating an account to guarantee your name isn’t taken by a cybersquatter, even if you don’t use it immediately.

In honour of the Pope and his online congregation, SocialBro has created a free eBook, ‘10 Pointers from the Pontiff’, with more tips to help you get the most out of Twitter.

Javier Burón is CEO and co-founder of SocialBro