Unraveling The Myth of Slacktivism

Image by: spikeyhelen
10.25.2011By

Image by: spikeyhelen

Last year, Malcom Gladwell started quite the discussion–and some heated arguments–in his New Yorker expose on “slacktivism,” doubting social media’s role in impacting real social change. “Slacktivism” describes the simple, easy social actions people take in support of a cause such as liking a Facebook page or using Twibbon to update an avatar in support of a cause, such as Give to the Max Day or World Diabetes Day.

A year later, the conversation continues. New research released from Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Worldwide shows that “slacktivists” are actually more likely to take meaningful actions. As Katya Andresen reported in Mashable, the Dynamics of Cause Engagement study found that “slacktivists” are:

  • –As likely as non-social media promoters to donate
  • –Twice as likely to volunteer their time
  • –Twice as likely to take part in events like charity walks
  • –More than twice as likely to buy products or services from companies that supported the cause
  • –Three times as likely to solicit donations on behalf of their cause
  • –More than four times as likely to encourage others to sign a petition or contact political representatives

In sum, not only with these people support your cause, but they will help advocate it! What does this means to you? Activate social champions.

As Shawn Ahmed from the Uncultured Project is known for saying, simple social actions can act as a “gateway drug” to engage individuals deeper into a cause. Having a great amount of so-called “slacktivists” isn’t time and effort wasted. As the research above shows, people who are engaged in social actions for social good are actually social champions–both online and offline. It is this community you want to engage in your mission to help grow your cause and the impact it can have. Here are three key take-aways to consider:

  1. Learn to like the color grey. The world might be easier if things were black and white, but we know that’s not always the case. People and organizations have received slack for participating in “slacktivist” activities. Maybe it’s time to do away with the term slacktivist itself? Afterall, there are probably more productive ways to communicate disappointment or unmet expectations. Let’s commit as a community to appreciate people for what they do. The leftover energy can be used to brainstorm the next big adventure.
  2. Accept your responsibility. Once someone engages with your nonprofit, whether it’s a retweet or a sidewalk conversation, realize it’s your responsibility to grow their interest and engagement in your mission. How are you providing others with the opportunity to help your cause? When was the last time you thanked someone for their support?
  3. Learn more about online advocacy. Social champions are likely to participate in online advocacy efforts. You can synch your advocacy efforts with your fundraising efforts. For example, did you know advocates of your cause are seven times for likely to donate?

How you are activating social champions?

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