Twitter: Pope sends tweets to followers via his new @pontifex account

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The Pope has sent his first round of tweets to almost one million followers.

Using his new account @pontifex, Pope Benedict XVI sent seven tweets over the course of a seven hour session in which he also responded to certain tweets using the hashtag #AskPontifex.

The Vatican had set up eight different accounts on behalf of the Pope, designed to send his message to Twitter users in a number of languages.

At the touch of a tablet button, he was then able to send the message to people using the social networking platform.

Sticking strictly to the Twitter character limit of 140, his message read: "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart."

The Pope himself has been very vocal in pushing for the use of social media in the Vatican, and his use of Twitter certainly generated a hive of online PR and publicity as a result.

This can be seen in the amount of users that took to following him within hours of the initial announcement that he would start to use Twitter - around a quarter of a million people - this figure stood at around a million when he made his inaugural tweet.

His first message alone generated more than 30,000 retweets within a few hours, and more than 10,000 other users marked it as a favourite.

Twitter itself also benefits from the Pope joining the platform, as it inevitably draws more attention to the service and serves as free online PR for the firm too.

In fact, the company reportedly has a department specifically in place for the recruitment of high-profile users. The firm's head of social innovation Claire Diaz-Ortiz, travelled to Rome to help the Vatican team prepare for the launch.

Following the Pope's inaugural message, she tweeted from her own account: "The Pope is on Twitter. #done."

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