Tom Watson, a Forbes magazine contributor who focuses on technology and social change, is the latest commentator to wake up to the Pope Francis phenom.
Under the headline "Social Media Star: Peace, Love and a New Understanding," he writes:
"Pope Francis -- or @pontifex to his Twitter followers -- has quickly become a social media phenomenon, adding five million followers since his installation six months ago. He is gaining more than 4,000 followers a day and knocking at the door of three million followers for his English language feed alone. He's got more than eight million total on Twitter, tweeting in Latin, German, Polish, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian and Arabic."
Explore Pope Francis' environmental encyclical: Get this free readers' guide when you sign up for the weekly Eco Catholic email.
He notes that Francis' tweets get retweeted on an average of 22,000 times, then continues:
"That 22,000 retweets (across all the languages) for every short message the Pope sends out tends to get the social marketers and cause campaigners attention. That's the kind of engagement with a wide audience of influencers that can help change opinion. Of course, the Pope's widely reported remarks on gay people and atheists -- and even the possibility of priests marrying -- have shaken up the public perception of the modern Papacy, no small feat for a 78-year-old Jesuit. Unquestionably, Francis is a rising star on social media – especially among the politically active, social cause crowd. And the Pope's own Syrian 'intervention' was both widely shared and obviously influential."
Editors note: We can send you an biweekly email alert with content from The Francis Chronicles. Follow the directions on our email alert sign up page.
Just $5 a month supports NCR's independent Catholic journalism.
We are committed to keeping our online journalism open and available to as many readers as possible. To do that, we need your help. Join NCR Forward, our new membership program.
Looking for comments?
We've suspended comments on NCRonline.org for a while. If you missed that announcement, learn more about our decision here.