Social media not top source for cause engagement, study says

WASHINGTON: A new study from Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Georgetown University explores the role of social media tools in fostering engagement with social issues.

WASHINGTON: Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication recently released results of the "Dynamics of Cause Engagement" study, which explores trends in cause involvement.

The study assesses the role of a number of activities and tools in fostering engagement with social issues among participants across four age groups.

More than 50% of respondents across all age groups believe social networking sites increase the visibility of social causes and issues. However, these same respondents most often obtain cause and social issue-related information off-line in face-to-face conversations with family and friends or via television, rather than online.

Generation Y participants were found to be more likely to support causes through social media than older generations, but are still likelier to engage with a cause through face-to-face discussions and donations.

More than 70% of study participants across all age groups reported that cause-related emails often feel like spam, and 55% of adults older than 60 said they receive too many cause-related emails.

Additionally, many of the younger study participants do not find value in Facebook “likes.” Among Gen X and Gen Y respondents, 60% and 56%, respectively, reported that although “everybody 'likes' causes on Facebook, it doesn't really mean anything.”

In terms of important causes for 2011, participants from Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation (adults older than 60) ranked "supporting our troops" as most important, while Gen Y said gay marriage was the most important issue.

The groups will release additional findings on “Cause Involvement and Behavior Change” on June 30.

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