Publication Date

Spring 5-25-2012

Degree Name

MA in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations

First Advisor

Paul LeVasseur

Abstract

Social Media technology is providing nonprofits with a new platform for connecting to the masses. Most nonprofits are using these platforms to spread their message, fundraise and gain notoriety, but few are utilizing such sites for community building purposes. Online community building-especially on Facebook and Twitter-is an emerging concept with little existing literature and research available. Exploration in this field provides valuable information to nonprofits on effective ways to develop their accounts in a way that fosters an interactive and engaged community of participants. The question directing this study is: How can nonprofits create, build, and develop a community, online and across cultures, using social media? This online community would best be defined and shaped by: 1) the ways social media was connecting individuals to organizations and each other, 2) the role of social media in participating/furthering nonprofit organizations’ missions and 3) the opportunities social media provides for creating social change.

The nonprofit WomensTrust was used as a case study in implementing, observing and monitoring an effective social media community building strategy. A flexible design was used for research and a mixed methods approach was used for the collection of information. Through direct observation, analysis of existing user/friend demographics, an 8 question survey to online participants, and an informal focus group data on the specific needs and challenges of a WomensTrust online community was collected. Data showed social media users were interested in the work/ programs/staff of WomensTrust, learning more about Ghana, and ways to be involved. The result of this data analysis provided a starting point for WomensTrust’s social media strategy in developing their online community and can be used as a guide for other nonprofits.

Disciplines

Civic and Community Engagement | Communication Technology and New Media | International and Intercultural Communication

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