Pope Less Popular on Twitter Than Charlie Sheen? Conan?
By Jo Piazza Posted Jun 29th 2011 02:35PM
"Dear Friends, I just launched News.va Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI," he tweeted.
The Pope, unlike the Dalai Lama, does not have a personal Twitter account, as of yet. Instead he has been using the Vatican's official Tweet feed (@news_va_en) -- a feed that can expect a bump in popularity now that it is the Pope's official portal to the digital universe.
As of this morning, the Vatican's English language Twitter was gaining approximately 1,424 followers per hour, according to PopEater's calculations. That's not nearly as rapid a pace as celebrity accounts like those of Charlie Sheen or talk show host, Conan O'Brien, both of whom joined Twitter as part of separate media melees.
On Sheen's first day using the social networking site (with the help of the pay-per-tweet company Ad.ly), he was gaining approximately 30,000 followers per hour. O'Brien similarly experienced a follower velocity of approximately 40,000 per hour on his first day.
So what gives? Why is the Pope getting less love?
Catholics, of which there are about 1.1 billion in the world, are definitely on Twitter. In fact the micro-blog is an incredibly dynamic space for religious conversation. I recently conducted research on how Catholic nuns use Twitter. Over the course of one month, the 14 women in my study tweeted a total of 2,531 times. That's a sizable amount of twittage. The Catholic Church has even recognized that social media can be a useful tool through which to convey their message to a large (young) audience and has made much of sanctioning its use.
In his May 2010 message for World Communication Day, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged priests to use social media: "Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ," he decreed. "They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way."
Of the top 40 Twitter users (based on number of followers), 36 are celebrities -- a group, one would think, the Pope would be a part of. Perhaps the Pope's fans are simply just taking longer to engage with the Holy Father on a digital level. Maybe folks are wary that his first tweet was a one-time only deal. Maybe the Pope needs to come up with sexier hashtags.
For now, it remains surprising that access into Benedict's tweet world seems to be less intriguing than access to the inner sanctum of #TigerBlood.
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