In recent years, social media has changed the way that companies and customers interact. For many companies, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide new avenues for marketing and customer service interaction at a relatively low-cost. For nonprofits in particular, social media seems to be an effective communication tool to cultivate relationships with stakeholders. In their article, “Twitter as a Communication Tool for Nonprofits: A Study of Sport-for-Development Organizations,” published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, Per G. Svensson of Louisiana State University, Tara Q. Mahoney of State University of New York at Cortland, and Marion E. Hambrick of University of Louisville delve into the ways that nonprofits utilize Twitter to reach out to stakeholders. Analyzing the tweets of nonprofit organizations, the authors set out to identify how social media can be used to promote a call for action among stakeholders.
Previous research suggests sport-for-development organizations strategically aim to engage people through social media in hopes of generating increased offline support (Thorpe & Rinehart, 2013). Using the framework set forth by Lovejoy and Saxton (2012), the purpose of this study was to explore how nonprofit organizations use Twitter to disseminate information, build engagement, and facilitate action. A content analysis of 3,233 tweets revealed a larger proportion of interactive communication, yet one-way communication was the most common function. Overall, the use of social media to facilitate action among stakeholders was scarce, but the way organizations used Twitter to provide information, interact with followers, and create a call for action varied considerably among them. Interestingly, these differences were not associated with annual revenue, organizational age, targeted social issues, or number of countries of operation. This study has important theoretical and practical implications, and provides a first look at how sport-for-development organizations use Twitter.
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