Canadian Advocacy 2.0: An Analysis of Social Media Adoption and Perceived Affordances by Advocacy Groups Looking to Advance Activism in Canada
Jonathan A. Obar
University of Toronto - Faculty of Information; Michigan State University - College of Communication Arts and Sciences
April 22, 2013
Canadian Journal of Communication, 39(2), 211-233 (2014).
One hundred and fifty-seven representatives from 63 advocacy organizations operating in Canada were surveyed to evaluate the extent to which these groups are adopting social media, and perceive that these technologies offer affordances that contribute to the advancement of activism objectives. Quantitative results of social media adoption reveal that groups are engaging with a limited selection of social media technologies (mainly Facebook and Twitter) a few times a week or more, while avoiding other options like Google and Tumblr. Qualitative results addressing perceived social media affordances suggest that while groups are enthusiastic about social media’s potential to strengthen outreach efforts, enable engaging feedback loops, and increase the speed of communication, they remain cautious of unproven techniques that may divert resources from strategies known to work.
The results of this study were also compared with those in “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” (Obar, Zube, & Lampe, 2012). The findings suggest that Canadian groups appear to be more cautious in terms of their social media strategy than their American counterparts. More of the American groups are using Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube and are doing so more often. The American groups also engage with a wider variety of technologies, with more groups also using Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, Diigo, Vimeo, and a variety of others. The American groups are also more optimistic about the affordances social media provide, and expressed very few concerns. By comparison, Canadian groups seemed both enthusiastic and guarded, which perhaps has contributed to a slightly slower and narrower adoption of social media technologies and strategies.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 24, 2013 ; Last revised: December 4, 2014
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