Nonprofit Organizations and Social Media Use: An Analysis of Nonprofit Organizations' Effective Use of Social Media Tools

Nonprofit Organizations and Social Media Use: An Analysis of Nonprofit Organizations' Effective Use of Social Media Tools

Aminata Sillah (Towson University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1963-8.ch009


The use of social media technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn has enhanced and increased the communication and engagement strategies available to nonprofit organizations. This chapter focuses on and addresses the question of nonprofit use of social media by examining the main objectives for using social media, and whether social media has been effective in meeting these objectives. Existing research on nonprofit social media use tends to focus on finding out which social media tools nonprofit organizations are using and which one of these yields the most impact. To answer these questions, descriptive analysis is conducted on social media technologies and their usage to identify associations between effectiveness of social media in meeting objectives. These questions go beyond asking why nonprofit organizations use social media and analyzes how they meet their objectives using various social media tools.
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Extant literature on what motivates nonprofit organizations to utilize social media includes studies of how they use those applications, with their inherently interactive and decentralized structure, as a strategic tool to communicate and coordinate with important stakeholders, conduct advocacy, raise funds, and engage with the public (Edwards & Hoefer, 2010; Lovejoy & Saxton, 2012; MacAulay, 2009; Waters & Jamal, 2011). Other research on nonprofit organizations’ use of social media has examined frequency of usage (Guo & Saxton, 2012), and the degree and breadth of nonprofit use of online content (Saxton, Guo, & Brown, 2007). For example, Guo and Saxton (2012) examined the prevalence and frequency of advocacy messages in tweets from nonprofits to followers. Other studies suggest that social media applications can influence how nonprofit organizations conduct fundraising, communicate with stakeholders, and build networks (Briones, Kuch, Liu, & Jin, 2011; Guo & Saxton, 2013; Saxton & Wang, 2013). Yet, there is limited systematic empirical study on the main objectives for nonprofit organizations’ use of social media, and whether or not social media have been effective in achieving the objectives of nonprofit organizations. With rare exceptions (Saurez, 2010; Saxton, Guo, & Brown, 2007), the understanding of nonprofits’ social-media use relies on static collection of information displayed on some of the nonprofit organizations’ websites. The literature has not yet examined objectives of social-media use, and nonprofits’ perception of the effectiveness of social media in accomplishing their missions in a systematic manner.

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