Dalai Lama on Twitter, Lessons on Brand Awareness and Public Relations
The Dalai Lama is one of the biggest players on twitter. The number is growing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the most total followers on twitter by next year. You can check for yourself here:
Here are the raw numbers:
Followers on Twitter: 656,628
Tweets: 253 Tweets
Following: 0 people
When Ben Parr of Mashable first covered the Dalai Lama being on twitter, he had 600 followers. This was on on February 22, 2010. http://mashable.com/2010/02/22/dalai-lama-twitter/
The way social media is portrayed, you might think that it’s only purpose is to follow athletes, movie stars and comedians. That’s not true. There is huge room for religious leaders, politicians and non profit organizations to interact with their constituencies.
A local parish can tweet about members in their community getting married, passing away or in need of help. They might only have 50 followers on twitter, but it’s 50 people that care. But these people can retweet things about how a member of their group is in need of donations for a surgery for instance, and if the message resonates, it will expand to their friends and family, and beyond. In fact, I would argue, that for members of non profit organizations, twitter can be even more powerful and useful then it is then for profit organizations. It’s pretty much the most cost effective way to communicate ideas that you could possibly imagine.
The tweets for these localized non-profits don’t need to retweet either or engage with other “celebrities,” or respond to every single national news event. They just need to stick to issues that are important to them and it’ll build resonance.
If you look at the Dalai Lama’s twitter account, he follows no one. He writes no messages to no one (at least not yet). He retweets no one. Yet, he has a dedicated following because his tweets (which are mostly old quotes pulled up) resonate and people can identify with them.
As a side benefit to the Dalai Lama’s tweeting, matters important to the Dalai Lama stay at the forefront of people’s minds. The Dalai Lama and correspondingly Tibet (his main focus) are at the forefront of people’s lives every day, instead of once every few months when he is a photograph with a politician. His message is with people everyday (and by association, so are things that he represents and cares about). This isn’t about monetizing an idea, it’s about amplifying ideas by being a continuous part of people’s lives. But just because most people are concerned about using social media to make money through advertising and product placement doesn’t mean that’s the only thing it is good for.
The Dalai Lama’s twitter account is a good example of that.