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BizReport : Social Marketing : April 18, 2016

Social media 'slacktivism' generates many shares but few dollars

Charitable campaigns on social media may "click" with people, and prompt them to get involved and share, but do people actually put their hands in their wallets? New research from Johns Hopkins University reveals that people do not always put their money where their mouse is.

by Helen Leggatt

Using data from HelpAttack!, a social apps that facilitates donations and shares donors' activities on social networks, Johns Hopkins University found that, of a sample of around 3,500 pledges made, just under two-thirds were fulfilled. Thirteen percent were partially fulfilled and 16% were deleted.

Interestingly, the proportion of deleted pledges was higher among those who had broadcast their pledge via a social media platform. This suggests that, for these people, it is more important to appear to be charitable than to follow through with their donations.

In another experiment using Facebook, ads and other methods to motivate donations (to the charity Heifer International) resulted in a large reach (6.4 million users) and generated many "Likes" and "shares" yet only 30 donations were received.

"What our findings indicate is that many people may regard online social networks as basically free platforms for personal exchange and much less as vehicles for an activity that comes at some cost to them, whether that cost is of money or time," says Angelo Mele, assistant professor at the Carey Business School who co-authored the study.

"In more traditional forms of activism, participants make a tangible contribution. Online platforms, in contrast, provide opportunities for activism that may consist of nearly costless actions."

Tags: donations, slacktivism charity, social media

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