June 17, 2011; Source: Politico | The Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project has just issued a new report of some significance for nonprofits. According to Pew, by some measures, Facebook users are more politically engaged than other internet users.
If you are wont to visit Facebook multiple times a day, Pew says that you're 2.5 times more likely than other people to attend a political meeting, 57 percent more likely to try to influence someone else's vote, and 43 percent more likely to vote. Pew concludes that Facebook is the preferred platform for political activism among young people.
MySpace, Pew says, is the site where users are most likely to be open to opposing points of view. LinkedIn is for voters. Seventy-nine percent of LinkedIn users vote or intend to vote compared to 65 percent of Facebook users, 62 percent of Twitter users, and 57 percent of MySpace people.
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These kinds of surveys always lead to discussions of how well the Obama camapign used social media in 2008 for electoral purposes, but nonprofits might be interested in the Pew findings (based on a solidly large survey sample), which might suggest nonprofit organizing strategies, where nonprofits might be interested in mobilizing like-minded advocates versus where they might want to generate give-and-take discussion.
As implied by the NPQ Newswire on the Saudi women's campaign to be permitted to drive cars, there is great potential in social media for positive social change. We should all be pushing the envelope of the uses of social media as nonprofits whose raison d'etre is small "d" democracy, giving voice and mobilizing constituencies for social progress.—Rick Cohen