Study: Social media encourages charitable action

NEW YORK: Social media encourages digitally savvy US adults to get involved with and support charitable causes, according to a study from Waggener Edstrom Worldwide.

NEW YORK: Social media encourages digitally savvy US adults to get involved with and support charitable causes, according to a study from Waggener Edstrom Worldwide.

The survey, “Digital Persuasion: How Social Media Motivates Action and Drives Support for Causes,” was conducted by Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication and WE. It showed that 55% of digitally active, cause-supporting American adults are likely to take action beyond just “liking” a cause online.

Interacting with a cause on social media drove 68% of participants to donate money; 52% to give personal items or food; 43% to attend an event; and 53% to volunteer. Georgetown and WE interviewed 2,004 digitally engaged US adults who care about causes.

“For us, one of the biggest findings is the idea that social media engagement does lead to traditional forms of engagement, like donating and volunteering,” said Julie Dixon, deputy director of Georgetown's Center for Social Impact Communication.

She added that the survey showed participants were driven to act based on strong storytelling and multimedia elements in the social space.

The study also revealed that 54% of respondents are more likely to support a cause on social media rather than offline, and 55% who engaged a cause on social platforms have been motivated to take further action.

More than 80% of participants said social media is an effective way to get more people interested in causes.

Dixon said a key take away for companies is the list of distinct categories of digitally savvy Americans in terms of cause support. These groups include “mainstreeters,” who are active on social but only support causes offline; “minimalists,” who only support causes online; “moderates,” who balance online and offline cause support; and “maximizers,” who support an average of 12 different causes both on and offline.

Denise Keyes, executive director for Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication, explained that the center has discovered in other studies that people are sometimes skeptical of supporting causes online because they want to make sure they know where the money is going.

To overcome this skepticism, Dixon said it's important for companies to reinforce credibility and carry consistent messaging across social media platforms.

She added that the University Center chose “digitally engaged” adults for the study because it believes this segment has potential to influence others through social media.

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