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Smoke signals from the Roman Catholic blogosphere

March 13, 2013

Can trends in social media influence real life decisions? Most probably. When it comes to cardinals holding a conclave to elect a new pope, however, probably not. Can they provide insights into the decision that’s in the making? Who knows.

Just for kicks, we looked at two tribes from eCairn’s database of influencers and compared the share of conversations mentioning each of the top contenders to be the next pope (based on this piece from the New York Times). The two communities we picked, both English-speaking communities, are very interested in the matter:

  • the Religion – Catholic community is strong of more than 1800 influencers residing for the most part in the US.
  • the Irish community (which we are currently working on splitting into topical communities) is made up of about 1400 influencers from Ireland.

Understandably, the Catholic tribe is bubbling with conversations about the conclave. Virtually every single one of the top and medium influencers and 3 out of 5 low influencers have published content about Benedict’s succession. Among Irish bloggers, the conclave does not get into the double digits when it comes to share of mind.

When we compare the volume of conversations (published between Benedict’s resignation on Feb 28 and March 12) about the most frequently mentioned contenders, though, both communities seem to agree on one name: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

Religion - Catholic tribe's pick for Pope Benedict's succession

Who will be the next pope? Religion – Catholic tribe

Irish bloggers' pick for Pope Benedict's succession

Who will be the next pope? Irish bloggers

Was Joseph Ratzinger the center of a lot of attention in social media when he got elected in 2005? How much insight can we gain from social media trends on a subject like this one?

White smoke has been sent over Rome now, and the new Pope’s name seems to have completely escaped the radar of the Roman Catholic blogosphere in the run-up to his election.

New pope overlooked by ENglish-speaking Roman Catholic blogosphere

Cardinal Bergoglio overlooked by Catholic bloggers (Feb 28 – March 12, 2013)

New pope overlooked by Roman Catholic blogosphere

Trend for Cardinal Bergoglio (in green) and other contenders (Catholic bloggers, Feb 28 – March 12, 2013)

Since the end of February and until yesterday, Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was mentioned almost 8 times less frequently by Catholic bloggers than the American Cardinal. The buzz around his name only started being visible two days ago, and with a mere 8 conversations per day, it can hardly be called buzz. This cannot be attributed to a possible preference of US Catholics for an American pope, since the same trend is found among the Irish bloggers. Yet he was chosen today to be the Catholic Church’s new pope, Pope Francis. The Catholic blogosphere has some catching up to do!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Katja Wolff permalink
    March 18, 2013 4:11 pm

    Liked the headline! 🙂

    • Frederique Passot permalink
      March 20, 2013 5:49 pm

      The smoke image seemed appropriate indeed ;-). Thanks for dropping by, Katja!

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