The Pope's Social Media Role Model

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 11 2012 12:52 PM

The Pope Has a Social Media Guru—and a Twitter Role Model

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A screengrab of the Pope's official Twitter account

With the world waiting on Pope Benedict XVI to hit send on his very first tweet, the pontiff's social media guy (yep, that's an actual job, apparently) sat down with Bloomberg Businessweek to talk about the holy father's social-media strategy. The entire interview is worth a read for those of you who like that sort of thing, but the best snippet is probably Monsignor Paul Tighe's explanation for why his boss isn't into Twitter follow-backs:

Why doesn't the Pope follow anyone?
The choice between following and not following was partly because we
noticed the Dalai Lama didn't follow anyone. How do you decide who do you
follow? That's one reason why Facebook, where you have to consciously decide who is and who isn't a friend, wouldn't be the best medium. We could have looked at following cardinals and bishops but then what?
Barack Obama follows more than 600,000 people.
Maybe we should talk about this as a best practice for global Church
leaders.
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The Pope's twitter account, @Pontifex, does actually follow seven other accounts—but they're all translations of the official feed into other languages, so they don't exactly count. Meanwhile, his holiness already boasts more than 600,000 followers, a total that will surely grow once he sends out his first tweet tomorrow. It's an impressive tally, sure, but one that isn't anywhere close to his social-media role model's 5.7 million followers.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.