“Tweeting Social Change: How Social Media Are Changing Nonprofit Advocacy”: Study from the University of Buffalo, SUNY, and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis published in Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.
In the wake of the viral “Kony 2012″ campaign, the researchers review the social media use of 188 non-profit, 501(c)(3) advocacy organizations (all those in the sample were reasonably well established and well funded) and try to identify patterns among their various strategies. They focus on Twitter, which about 80 percent of the sample currently employ as an organizational and communications tool. The average organization has about 2,500 followers and tweets about 100 times over a four-week period, though some sent out as much as 1,000 messages over that time.
The study concludes that, for nonprofits, Twitter is most commonly used as “public education” tool (40 percent of all tweets fell into this category), not necessarily a mobilization tool: “[W]e found the majority of the tweets were aimed at providing information to stakeholders, followed by building an online community, and then calling that community to action.” The researchers ponder whether, as more advocacy goes online, the very nature of these organizations may change substantially. The paper can also inform debates over “slacktivism” and related topics.
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