Do you think you’re the only person who still doesn’t have a twitter account? Well…you may be.
The widespread nature of social media was reinforced Tuesday when Pope Benedict took his first step into the Twitterverse. Benedict’s first tweet introduced a new Vatican news portal, a major component of the Vatican’s social media initiative to keep their followers up to date on recent news and information. Media junkies marveled at the results of the Pope’s single tweet, which boosted the number of followers of the Vatican twitter account nearly three-fold in a two day period.
While the Pope’s dive into the realm of social media may surprise some, it’s certainly not shocking from a public relations perspective. Social media has infiltrated our information-based society at an ever-increasing rate. It’s provided individuals with the ability to communicate with a widespread audience within a matter of seconds. It has empowered individuals, giving them the ability to interact with public figures and stay updated on recent news. And it’s an attractive offer to anyone who has a story to tell.
Because, let’s face it: we are all media addicts. A recent study of college-aged students found that young adults around the world are so dependent on media that they struggled to stay away from their Smartphones, iPads and the internet during a 24-hour detox – exhibiting true withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, frustration, craving and jitters. Clearly, social media has entered main stream culture and we, along with the millions of social media users, are betting it’s here to stay. But time is proving that social media isn’t just for celebrities and public figures – it’s beneficial, and necessary, for organizations as well. Companies and brands have an opportunity to capitalize on the benefits of social media by joining the conversation and building relationships with the broadest audience possible.
Take Pope Benedict and the Vatican for example. They’ve made a big effort to introduce a 2.0 version of Catholicism to digital followers. Pope Benedict’s general interest in technology led him to launch a YouTube channel and mobile app, Pope2U. And he’s urged priests to follow in his footsteps by blogging. It’s apparent that the Catholic Church has realized that social media is the most effective way for them to communicate with segments of their audience who rely on social media as a news source.
Social media is defined as a conversation people have online. While the pope may be preaching from a new altar, his message will remain consistent. The main difference that exists within the media spheres of influence is the additional opportunities that are available. Social media allows brands, companies and public figures to increase web traffic, connect to a community of customers, spread recent news, position yourself or your company as a category leader, blunt negative press and grow buzz about a new product or service. Now that’s a lot of bang for your buck.
Is it time to join the other 300 million individuals with registered Twitter accounts? Let us know what you think.