Pope Francis and his team launched a new account on Instagram and quickly amassed ONE MILLION followers. The Pope and Vatican now have digital presence at both Twitter and Instagram.
The first post: “Pray for me.”
Pope Francis, not one to shy from social media engagement, became the biggest Instagram celebrity of the day today when he and his team added Instagram to his digital/social footprint today and within hours, amassed 1 million followers.
Inizio un nuovo cammino, per percorrere con voi la via della Misericordia e della tenerezza di Dio. Inicio un nuevo camino, para recorrer con ustedes el camino de la Misericordia y de la ternura de Dios. I want to walk with you along the way of God's Mercy and tenderness. Ich beginne einen neuen Weg, um mit euch den Weg der Barmherzigkeit und der Zärtlichkeit Gottes zu gehen. Je commence un nouveau chemin, pour parcourir avec vous la voie de la Miséricorde et de la tendresse de Dieu. Inicio um novo caminho, no Instagram, para percorrer com vocês a estrada da Misericórdia e da ternura de Deus.
The Pope’s first Instagram post elicited 92,000+ likes.
In a statement, the Vatican said that the Instagram feed will include photos and videos from the Pope’s daily life that highlight “closeness” and “inclusion.”
Monsignor Dario E. Viganò, the prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, said in a written statement to the press:
“Instagram will help recount the Papacy through images, to enable all those who wish to accompany and know more about Pope Francis’ pontificate to encounter his gestures of tenderness and mercy.”
The launch on Instagram comes after the Pope met with Kevin Systrom, one of Instagram’s co-founders and current CEO. System had had an audience with the Pope at the Vatican in late February.
Systrom called the Pope’s launch on Instagram an “incredible moment” and went on to say:
“Your messages of humility, compassion and mercy will leave a lasting mark”
Comments thus far have been quite positive though it is not known if someone is moderating comments at this time. It will be interesting to see if/how the Pope and the Vatican use the new Instagram account as a compliment to the existing Twitter account. Will it simply mirror, or provide a different social/digital voice?
The Pope and Vatican’s further move into social media perhaps signifies a commitment to communicating with a younger demographic in a way best understood and embraced by that demographic and, at a time when global smartphone adoption continues to grow. Certainly, this seems to be the trend for almost all major religions these days. Could this launch on Instagram also mean that a Facebook page with live video is next? We hope so!