Social media facilitates the exploration of, and participation in, activism. In order to do this, a variety of social media must be used. Studies show that heterogeneous social media sites tend to correlate with those who are more open-minded, and carry their participation (in this case political) from online to offline. This facilitates connection to those who we may not already know, or who have perspectives different from our own (Johnson, Zhang, Bichard, & Seltzer, 2011).
Word of mouth advertising is the most effective form of advertising (Brown & Reingen, 1987). When our friends or those we respect or trust share something with us, we tend to listen. Homogeneous social media sites tend to be used for the enhancing of offline friendships (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007); this can facilitate the power of word of mouth reviews. And, because those who use heterogeneous sites also tend to use homogeneous sites (Johnson, Zhang, Bichard, & Seltzer), a bridge between the two types of social media is formed (Chayko, 2008). It stands to reason, then, that at any given time we are exposed to a wide variety of causes and may be motivated to participate in them (online or offline) based on their perceived origins (i.e., because our friends told us about it).
Because of the unique opportunity social media inherently has to facilitate social engagement, they are an ideal resource for activists looking to create social change. The more groups engage users via social media, appealing to their emotions and personal experiences, the more participation in those causes social media is able to facilitate.
Brown, J. J., & Reingen, P. H. (1987). Social ties and word-of-mouth referral behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 350–362.
Chayko, M. (2008). Portable communities : the social dynamics of online and mobile connectedness. Albany: SUNY.
Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “friends:” social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143–1168.
Johnson, T., Zhang, W., Bichard, S., & Seltzer, T. (2011). United we stand? In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A networked self : identity, community and culture on social network sites. New York: Routledge.