The Pope has sent his first ever tweet, after joining the social network earlier this month. The tweet references the connectedness offered by social media — noting that he is “pleased to get in touch” and thanking his (Twitter) followers for their “generous response” — presumably to his arrival (as @Pontifex) on the social network.
Here’s his first tweet in full
The Pope’s first tweet is a watershed moment for social media — as the old top-down ways of communicating, that are still all too often favoured by establishment institutions such as the Catholic Church, are shown again and again to be unworkable in a hyper connected age. Ignoring the place where people are choosing to communicate — and also to criticise — is no longer a viable option. Shunning social media means appearing not just out of touch — but irrelevant to a modern, digitally connected audience.
The Pope is not the only high profile individual who recently sent a first tweet. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron signed up for a personal Twitter account in 2010 but only started tweeting from it in October — promising he would refrain from sending “too many tweets”.
Update: Now he’s started tweeting, the Pope is apparently in no hurry to stop — he’s just sent a couple more tweets. His second tweet is a question about how to “celebrate the Year of Faith better”, while the third tweet apparently answers the second
It is probably too much to hope the Pope engages with his Twitter follows in a proper back-and-forth conversation, rather than using the service as another pulpit to broadcast from. Judging by this pair of tweets (and the fact he only follows his seven other @Pontifex language feeds), the Pope is more keen on conversing with himself — than with his 672,445 followers — which is really missing the point of social media.
If you want to see the Pope in inaugural Twitter action, this Catholic blog has a video of the moment the Pope sent his first tweet — which, in case you were wondering, was sent from an iPad