The Pope's Guide To Social Media Etiquette

Renee Hansen | @Redeemed36 Pope Francis is a name known and highly revered all across the world, and after a radio message for World Communications Day in January, the man behind the name suddenly became the go-to guy for social media etiquette. He even has over 3 million followers on his Twitter, @Pontifex!

So what does this religious leader have to say about a world run by shareable links, Twitter feeds and hashtags? He says it's all a #GiftFromGod.

Pope's twitter account

Some of us may think that statement is a stretch, especially those of us with the hashtag-happy followers that blow up your feed. But according to the Pope, the Internet's uncanny ability to bring people together is a way to establish unity and become a family, "which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all." His tips are not so much about technology, but about preserving human dignity online.

You can find his entire speech *here* but I took the liberty to single out just a few of his tips.

The first is his suggestion to listen and learn from one another. Simple right? It's basically one of the golden rules we learn in grade school. But to apply it to the social media platform where your opinions are just one "enter" button away, makes self-control much more difficult. Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds can be great discussion boards, but all too often we see a sequence of posts dominated by one or two people. No one else has a chance to even get in the war zone. When he or she tries, the post gets immediately bumped up the feed and into the zone of invisibility when the dominating forces continue their own one-sided rants. The Internet is a great outlet for free expression, but let others exercise their own right, too.

A second tip is to understand that "connections need to grow into true encounters." Pope Francis highlights the importance of a human being and that true connections can't be accomplished solely through Wi-Fi connections. To be the most effective communicator, you must push back that office chair, walk outside of that cubicle and meet people. It'll build trust and relationships. Real relationships.

Finally, he stresses the importance of treating others the way that you would want to be treated. When an angry guest or troll posts a loaded complaint, he advised that we respond the kindess in sincerity. Once again, it is a suggestion that seems simple enough, but it is something that is easily forgotten in the world of online customer service.

The Pope's social media etiquette tips are a nice refresher of spreading kindness in social media as well as a reminder that even though you are sitting behind a computer, words still carry meaning and impact. So heed Pope Francis' suggestions. Be purposeful and listen. Hashtags might have more to say than you think.