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Thou Shalt Blog: What Marketers Can Learn from the Church's Foray into Social Media

If you've been waiting for a sign from above telling you to start using social media , then your time has come.

Pope Benedict on Facebook Over the past few months, Pope Benedict XVI has been calling on the Catholic Church to get more involved in Web 2.0. In a video released by the vatican on YouTube , Pope Benedict states that the Church should continue to be present in the "ever-evolving communications system that surrounds our planet."

To date, the Vatican has created a YouTube account, a personal Facebook page for Pope Benedict , an iPhone app and Facebook app . Outside of the Vatican, many of those in the Church have heard the call and started blogging and creating other online resources like Open Source Catholic .

Okay, I admit that it's not exactly a burning bush, but it's certainly a clear sign that times have changed.

Religious groups have long been associated with traditional outbound marketing techniques. Think about men in ties and backpacks knocking at your door, religious pamphlets left on your windshield or people handing out flowers at the airport.

Why have these devotees gone to such great lengths to spread the "good word?" Because people have been searching for it.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life , about 92% of Americans believe in a higher power, 28% have left the religion of their childhood and 16% consider themselves unaffiliated. This means that there is liquidity in the religious market, and many Americans are actively searching for spirituality. It also explains why religious groups have spent so much time, energy and money trying to get attention.

Vatican iPhone App The Catholic Church's embrace of blogging and social media is yet another clear sign that, no matter what your audience, the conversation has shifted online. In a statement, the Pope Benedict notes that, "Church communities have always used the modern media... for encouraging dialog at a wider level."

The key business takeaway is this: If the 83-year-old leader of one of the oldest organizations in the history of Western civilization has embraced Web 2.0 and recognized the benefits of inbound marketing techniques, you're officially out of excuses for why social media won't work for your company.

Our recommendation? Follow the Pope's lead (at least in regard to your marketing efforts): Get involved in social media , especially Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Start a blog , and join the conversation in your industry.


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