Want to attract more than 100,000 followers on Twitter? Try speaking a dead language.
In January, the Vatican launched a Twitter account for Pope Francis, @pontifex_ln, which features tweets only in Latin.
The feed’s language, which fell out of popular use centuries ago, shows some impressive results.
The account, “Papa Franciscus,” which was predicted to attract at most 5,000 followers, exploded in popularity. The Latin feed has garnered almost 118,000 followers—which makes it more popular than the Pope’s Arabic, Polish, and German Twitter accounts.
What makes this dead language so popular and what can your company learn from its unusual success?
Embrace company culture
Latin is a pillar of Roman Catholic culture. When Pope Benedict XVI launched the first papal Twitter in December 2012, letters from around the world arrived at the Vatican asking for a Latin account, reports NPR.
If your followers don’t ask you to tweet about something in particular, ask yourself: Does your Twitter feed adequately showcase your corporate culture?
Southwest Airlines, whose Twitter handle has more than 1.5 million followers, is a prime example of a company whose company culture comes across on its Twitter feed.
Southwest tweets personal stories about employees and discusses fun projects the airline is working on. It also encourages customers to get involved with the Southwest community, a recent example being the #Hunt4SWA competition.
The company gets involved in pop culture, too, and participates in ” throwback Thursday” (#tbt)—which showcases Southwest’s beginnings.
Remember, a successful brand markets more than a product; it markets a culture.
Not every brand can or should be Southwest Airlines, but relatable company culture should be part of your social media efforts.
Make a connection
NPR tells us that many of Papa Franciscus’ followers aren’t Catholic. Latin enthusiasts of all beliefs flock to the account just to use the language.
Latin scholars knew about the Vatican’s history with Latin, but were never engaged through social media until now.
Take the time and explore new ways to engage your followers. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Take a look at Paulo Coelho, author of “The Alchemist,” who has more than 8.1 million Twitter followers.
Check out this infographic of the 25 most engaged brands on Twitter, and see how they interact with their followers.
What takes 195 characters to say in English is done in 78 through Latin.
Moral of the story: choose your words wisely. Readers don’t want to endure lengthy explanations and big words.
Today’s attention span barely goes beyond 140 characters. Take the time to choose what words you use, and how you use them. Be succinct.
As Latin shows, a little goes a long way. For example:
English (28 words)
The Church is born from the supreme act of love on the Cross, from Jesus’ open side. The Church is a family where we love and are loved.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) May 29, 2013
Latin (21 words)
Summo ex amoris in cruce documento e latereque Iesu transfosso exoritur Ecclesia – familia quae est ubi cum amant vicissim tum amantur.
— Papa Franciscus (@Pontifex_ln) May 29, 2013
As for what the rest of Papa Franciscus’ tweets actually say, I’ll never know. It’s all Greek to me!
Or in this case, Latin.