The Power of Social Media (as Verified by the Pope)

What started out as a normal Wednesday morning resulted in being anything but.

Over our usual morning cup of tea and banter, the subject inevitably came around to the pending papal visit the following day.

Being web evangelists (aka geeks) here at NSDesign, we jokingly imagined creating an “alternative” version utilising the PayPal branding but without the distinguishing “Y”.

To be honest, that part wasn’t a terribly unique idea, people were already referencing it on Twitter, but on a whim, we took it that bit further. We decided it might be fun to do a little social media experiment where the objective would be to start with nothing and see how we could build awareness and generate interest in a site which was literally minutes old.

If it did work, then perhaps some of the lessons learned could be applied any online marketing strategy.

By eleven we’d registered the domain. After noon, we’d thrown a quick site together and started to promote the site via a few pointed “tweets” just after 1pm.

Below is how the site looked not long after launching: very basic but still funny enough to get people talking…


Within minutes the traffic started to arrive and the re-tweets began…

(Screengrab: Real Time Google)

As the day went on, we added more content and images and posted the link on Facebook walls.


The unique visitors were just short of 2000.

Page views came in around the 3500 mark.

Our whole point wasn’t just to drive traffic in a call-to-action format, it was to reach a s wide of an audience as possible thus building brand/site awareness.

Through tools such as TweetReach* – we were able to ascertain how far our “reach” was.

Tweet Reach Screen Shot:
Tweet Reach: Nearly 75k

On Twitter, according to our full TweetReach report*, shows we had a potential reach around 75,000 people – which rather ironically is more than actually showed up to see Pope.

On the day of the Pope’s visit, “day two” of our  humourous project, we posted various topical updates throughout the day.

The page grew and grew more graphics and with tongue-in-cheek reports.

Screen Shot of Status Update
(Screengrab: Susan Boyle Double Booked!)

Those, too, were tweeted and re-tweeted throughout the day. (We caught a few people out with that one…)

It was all done in good fun but yet there were things we could take away from this humourous experiment.


1) Anything topical you can tie in with your own expertise, and be a part of the buzz creation by contributing something valuable to the buzz,  you’re on to a winner.

2) Anything that is unique with humor (bearing in mind everyone’s humor is different) is also an added bonus in experiments like this.

3) We added the Facebook “Like” button and the “Tweet This” button – quite late in the game on day two – which indicates had we’d started off the project with that we might have pull back our marketing push and let the visitors of the website spread the message directly. Nearly a hundred people indicated “liked it” in just a few hours and thus spreading the message directly to their own wider networks.

4) Understanding who your champions are is very beneficial. For instance, you can see who’s mentioning it – using Google Real Time – you quite quickly see who the main influencers are.

In theory, you could almost be clever and target the people who you want to be spreading your message – and tweet them specifically in the first instance.

5) On the down side…while this experiment actually resulted in gaining followers, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t admit we’d have lost a few in the process.

After all, we broke the cardinal rule of overusing one subject in tweets – which, at times, may have been viewed coming across in an overly saturated and spammy sort of way.

Anyway it was a really fun and interesting project. We hope you who viewed the page enjoyed it as much as we did creating it.


(*Note that link only shows 50 of the total Tweets – you have to buy the full report to see all of it – which we did…)
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