Advocacy 2.0: An Analysis of How Advocacy Groups in the United States Perceive and Use Social Media as Tools for Facilitating Civic Engagement and Collective Action
Jonathan A. Obar
University of Toronto - Faculty of Information; Michigan State University - College of Communication Arts and Sciences
affiliation not provided to SSRN
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information
November 8, 2011
In light of a thriving interest in social media’s ability to enhance various forms of political and organizational communication, a survey of 169 representatives from 53 national advocacy/activist groups operating in the United States was conducted to assess the extent to which these groups perceive and use social media as tools for facilitating civic engagement and collective action. Quantitative results reveal that all groups are using a variety of social media technologies to communicate with citizens almost every day. Facebook is the outlet of choice, followed closely by Twitter. Email remains popular with some groups emailing 8 million members each week. Qualitative results suggest that groups believe that social media can facilitate civic engagement and collective action by strengthening outreach efforts, enabling engaging feedback loops, increasing speed of communication and by being cost-effective. While some groups raised doubts about social media’s ability to overcome the limitations of weak ties and generational gaps, an overwhelming majority of groups see social media as essential to contemporary advocacy work and social movements, and laud its democratizing function.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 25
Keywords: social media, social network, social movement, civic engagement, collective action, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, advocacy, advocacy group, activist, weak ties, blogs, wikis, email, new media studiesworking papers series
Date posted: November 8, 2011 ; Last revised: March 11, 2014
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