The Pope has seen the light. Last week he sent his first ever tweet: “Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.”
The Holy Father is 85 years old, and yet he understands the benefits of using Twitter as a channel to engage with the more than a billion Catholics around the world, especially the young.
I can almost picture him sitting around with boardroom table with his colleagues from the College of Cardinals when they first kicked around the idea of getting into Twitter. “What if the feedback is negative?” “How will we control the message?” “This might be a huge time suck.” “What if it doesn’t work?” I’ve heard all these questions many times myself from senior executives across industry.
However, he put aside his reservations and took the Twitter plunge. Even before the Pope’s first tweet, the #askpontifex hashtag had been hijacked by bigots and haters. Yet the he stayed the course, and within hours of his first tweet The Pope had more than a million followers.
Business leaders of the western world could learn some lessons from the Bishop of Rome.
In the UK only three per cent of FTSE 300 executives are on Twitter; and in the US fewer than four per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs are on Twitter.* This dragging of the heels is surprising when you consider that the annual Nielsen’s Social Media Report 2012 showed that 65 per cent of people on social media use it to learn more about brands and products at least once a month.
Is there a generational shift behind this mismatch? Can the business leaders of today embrace digital or will it take a younger generation of executives who are digital natives to drive adoption of social technologies throughout the businesses they lead?
I would argue that if an octogenarian Pope understands the connecting powers of Twitter, so can your 55 year old CEO.
Originally blogged at Thornley Fallis