The recent visit of Pope Francis broke Twitter records in the Philippines, showing the Roman Catholic Pontiff’s immense popularity in the country and how Filipinos have turned to social media to openly express their love and appreciation for him.
Based on a report that Twitter shared through Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart), one of the social media company’s telecom partners in the Philippines, there were more than 3.3 million Tweets related to the Papal visit from January 13 to 20, 2015. The number of Tweets reached its peak on January 15 at 6:30 PM when the Pope arrived in Manila – with 3,664 Tweets per second.
All-time Golden Tweet in the Philippines
The all-time Golden Tweet (most Retweeted Tweet) for the Philippines also came from the Pope’s recent Philippines trip through his @Pontifex account on January 16. His Tweet in the vernacular, “Ang Pilipinas ay patunay ng kabataan at kasiglahan ng Simbahan” (The Philippines is witness to the youth and vitality of the Church), had nearly 76,000 Retweets and almost 90,000 favorites. That same Tweet is also the Pope’s most Retweeted Tweet to date from the @Pontifex account.
A tech-savvy evangelist, Pope Francis has recognized the big role of social media in spreading the teachings of the Catholic Church. He is now the 2nd most followed world leader on Twitter, with Tweets on Catechism and the Church’s position on moral and social issues being consistently shared several thousand times.
Pope’s all-time Top Tweets are related to the Philippines
Prior to his Philippines visit, Pope Francis had over 17 million followers across his nine accounts in different languages. During his visit to the Philippines, his @Pontifex account added over 365,000 followers between Jan 13-20, 2015.
Data generated on the Pope’s past Twitter activity also showed that 7 out of his top 10 most Retweeted Tweets are related to his official visit to the Philippines and an 8th Tweet is related to a call for prayer for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan which hit the Philippines in late 2013. In addition, four of the top five most Retweeted Tweets from @Pontifex account are in the vernacular language.
“Whether physically present during the papal activities or not, we were able to share our warm welcome and amplify our voice to converse with other Filipinos and Catholics all over the world through Twitter. Here is a part of our nation’s digital footprint, a digital imprint of our singular Papal visit experience,” said Ramon R. Isberto (@MonIsberto), Public Affairs Group head at Smart.
Shared experience enabled by social media
Announced two days before the Pope’s arrival, Twitter and Smart teamed up to provide free access to the popular social networking app for the duration of the papal visit, from January 15-19, 2015, to allow more Pinoy netizens to follow the Pope’s account (@Pontifex), get real-time news and updates, send wishes using the #DearPopeFrancis hashtag and participate in the social media conversation.
Many mobile Internet users in the Philippines registered and availed of the free service. Meanwhile, in a social media report shared by TV5, the #DearPopeFrancis hashtag was shared by almost 380,000 users and reached 3 billion impressions worldwide from December 1 to January 19. It was surpassed by the related #WeLovePopeFrancis hashtag popularly used from January 18 to 19 which was used by almost half a million users and reached 2 billion impressions worldwide. Both hashtags were amplified by TV5 through their social media campaign which was also supported by Smart.
With over 284 million monthly active users around the world – 80 percent of whom are on mobile – Twitter has become an essential social medium for netizens keeping an eye on real-time updates and social pulse on significant events and issues in the Philippines and around the world.
For Smart, the collaboration with Twitter for free access during the papal visit is part of its Internet for All efforts to help connect more Filipinos through mobile Internet access and services.