Helping the world one ‘like’ at a time – The rise of the Slacktivist
Authors: Bolat, E. and Samuelson-Cramp, F.
Editors: Grigore, G., Stancu, A. and Borgonovi, E.
Start date: 6 October 2016
Journal: Working Paper Series on Social Responsibility, Ethics and Sustainable Bsuiness
Publisher: ASE Publishing, Bucharest, Romania
Place of Publication: Boconni University, Milan, Italy
Over the last ten years social media has become a buzzword in all things business, psychology and global change. The Charity and Non-profit sector has adopted social media as one of their core engagement and fundraising tools showing the great power of the online community, however, the extent to which this is benefitting the sector is debateable. Is liking an organisation on Facebook is equal to donating money? A consumer interaction with charities and non-profit businesses by sharing and liking campaigns is based around the notion of ‘Slacktivism’. To date, studies on ‘Slacktivism’ behaviour in the social media context are limited with Rotman et al.’s (2011) study discussing a process framework for slacktivist and activist behaviour on social media, however, with no empirical evidence obtained to illustrate framework. Adopting theories of reasoned actions and planned behavior together with Goldberg’s big five personality factors, this study aims to investigate the motivations and interactions of social media users towards non-profit social media campaigns, with particular interest of studying ‘Slacktivists’. This study reveals no highly significant difference between all supporter types. Slacktivists and activists were found to be the most similar on personality traits and motivations, however slacktivists were less motivated by altruism. Interestingly, the emotional and psychological motive was found to not influence any of the groups in their support towards charities on social media, which differs to research not conducted on social media, suggesting social media facilitates a relationship between supporter and charity which is instantaneous or unemotionally involved and subsequently uncommitted to the cause. On the contrary to existing research (Seidman 2013; Pillai et al. 2015), this study found (1) the subjective norm to have the strongest correlation with slacktivist behavior and, therefore, suggests slacktivists are somewhat influenced by the perceived pressure those around them; (2) neuroticism (low rating on the emotional stability scale) does not influence slacktivism. Moreover, empirical evidences shows that slacktivists are strongly motivated by the familial link and by the emotional and psychological motive. Hence, it is not surprising to see that this study found no relationship between attitudes towards charity-related social media (ATTCH) and slacktivist behaviours. If those who are slacktivist are not emotionally engaged with a charity and do not have any real attitude towards their social media campaigns, they may just be engaging with content out of boredom or because they have been prompted to by a peer. Overall this study highlights that when communicating via social media Charity and Non-profit sector deals with diverse categories of audience, hence, objectives and communication tactics should be mapped against each individual category.