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December 4, 2012

5 Twitter tips for the Pope

(Continued)

3. Interact, but don't flame

Responding or retweeting followers can help give them the sense that there's a real person behind the handle. Newark Mayor Cory Booker is the master of using Twitter to communicate directly with constituents on issues as small as stray pitbulls. That level of engagement probably isn't possible for a global figure like Benedict, but it wouldn't hurt to periodically engage directly with the flock.

What he should be careful to avoid is getting into the kind of angry flame wars carried out in recent months by the presidents of Rwanda, Estonia and Azerbaijan. It's not very becoming of the Holy See to start arguments over politics or points of doctrine with obnoxious journalists.

4. Don't sweat the parodies

The Pope is a major world figure. He's going to be mocked on Twitter. He should handle it like Mayor Michael Bloomberg, not like The New York Times.

5. Proofread

Trusting others to do one's tweeting, as Benedict appears to be doing, can be risky. Ban Ki-moon likely wasn't too thrilled when the U.N.'s official feed tweeted out his support for a "1-state solution" last week." God's Emissary on Earth should probably double-check to make sure his staff are getting the wording right in all eight languages.

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Keating is an associate editor at Foreign Policy.

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