Burson-Marsteller DC Advocacy Groups Social Media Study Final


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Burson-Marsteller selected 34 U.S.-based political advocacy groups to evaluate how these groups utilize social media to communicate, specifically Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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Burson-Marsteller DC Advocacy Groups Social Media Study Final

  1. 1. A STUDY OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND POLITICAL ADVOCACY: How Social Media is Changing Grassroots Organizing Among U.S. Political Advocacy Groups
  2. 2. Social Media and Political Advocacy During recent election cycles, social media has become a powerful channel for political outreach and coalition building. Many key political advocacy groups are now active players in social media and using various platforms to connect with stakeholders. Social media provides political advocacy groups with a platform that widens their reach and can immediately mobilize grassroots support. This study examines how U.S. Political Advocacy Groups are leveraging social media channels.
  3. 3. Methodology  Burson-Marsteller selected 34 U.S.-based political advocacy groups to evaluate how these groups utilize social media to communicate, specifically Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  The sample breaks down as follows: • 14 right-leaning advocacy groups • 15 left-leaning advocacy groups • 5 neutral advocacy groups*  At the outset of our research process, we could not identify a definitive index or compilation of political advocacy groups. Therefore, for the purposes of this study, we selected 34 politically-influential groups that represent a range of political viewpoints.  Data was collected in May-June 2010 based on the 34 advocacy groups’ communications from March 15 to April 30, 2010 (6 weeks).  Data was gathered from the advocacy groups’ social media accounts.  Data was collected by Burson-Marsteller’s Global Research Team. *Note: Because of the small sample size, results for the 5 neutral groups is included in the overall results, but this data is not broken out in the detailed analysis.
  4. 4. Selected Advocacy Groups Right-leaning Groups: Left-leaning Groups:  American Conservative Union  American Association of People with Disabilities (AADP)  American Family Association (AFA)  American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  Americans for Tax Reform  Coalition to Stop Gun Violence  Business Roundtable  Human Rights Campaign (HRC)  Christian Coalition of America  League of Conservation Voters  Family Research Council  MoveOn  Federation for American Immigration Reform  NARAL Pro-Choice America (National Abortion and (FAIR) Reproductive Rights Action League)  Focus on the Family  National Association for the Advancement of Colored People  Freedom Works (NAACP)  National Federation of Independent Business  National Committee For An Effective Congress (NCEC) (NFIB)  National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare  National Rifle Association (NRA) (NCPSSM)  National Right to Life  National Council of La Raza (NCLR)  National Taxpayers Union  National Gay and Lesbian Task Force  US Chamber of Commerce  National Organization for Women (NOW)  National Urban League Neutral Groups:  People for the American Way  AARP  American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)  Anti-Defamation League (ADL)  Common Cause  Concord Coalition
  5. 5. Overwhelming Majority Use At Least One Social Media Platform Thirty-three out of the 34 political advocacy groups examined use at least one social media platform, including either a Facebook page, Twitter account or YouTube channel.
  6. 6. Almost all Groups Are Using Multiple Platforms Simultaneously Ninety-one percent of the political advocacy groups that use social media use Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as a means of outreach. Only one group had no social media presence. * No group used only 1 out of 3 platforms.
  7. 7. Interest Groups Use Social Media to Voice Opinions on Legislation  All of the political advocacy groups with Facebook pages and Twitter accounts use these social media platforms to share their views and news about specific local, state or federal legislation or regulation.  Advocacy groups use Twitter more than Facebook to relay legislative and regulation messages.  Right-leaning advocacy groups were more active in discussing legislation and regulation on Twitter and Facebook than Left-leaning groups in the six weeks studied (from March 15-April 30). Average Number of Mentions About Legislation/Regulation per Group 80 75 70 60 50 45 40 Twitter 30 26 26 Facebook 21 21 20 10 0 Total Right-leaning Left-leaning
  8. 8. Examples of Tweets/Posts Concerning Legislation
  9. 9. Groups Encourage Direct Outreach to Politicians  Sixty-one percent of political advocacy groups on Twitter and 56 percent on Facebook use social media to encourage stakeholders to reach out politicians.  Ninety-five percent of direct outreach posts on Twitter and 89 percent on Facebook provided phone numbers, instructions or easy to fill out forms to contact politicians.  Left-leaning advocacy groups were more active than Right-leaning groups in encouraging followers to reach out to Congress or politicians. Percentage of Groups with Posts About Outreach to Politicians 80% 71% 69% 61% 60% 56% 57% 57% 40% Twitter Facebook 20% 0% Total Right-leaning Left-leaning
  10. 10. Examples of Tweets/Posts Reaching Out to Government *** Easy instruction forms like the one to the right make it easy for the public to reach out – in this example, the letter is already written, they just have to fill out their information and sign!
  11. 11. YouTube Channels Also Keep People Informed  The average number of videos per YouTube channel was 107. In total, these political advocacy groups have uploaded 3,432 videos to YouTube.  Many of the YouTube channels had videos about specific legislation. Average Number of Videos Per YouTube Channel* 125 121 120 115 110 107 104 Total 105 Right-leaning 100 Left-leaning 95 *Data for YouTube is cumulative over the lifetime of the channel and is not restricted to the March 15- April 30, 2010 timeframe.
  12. 12. Stakeholders Are Seeking Out and Connecting With Groups  The average number of followers, fans, and subscribers on Twitter (4,880 followers), Facebook (32,588 fans) and YouTube (777 subscribers) suggests there is significant public interest in connecting with advocacy groups.  The number of Facebook fans is overwhelmingly higher than the number of Twitter followers and YouTube subscribers for all groups. The groups with the most fans were the National Rifle Association, Freedom Works, The Human Rights Campaign and MoveOn. Average Number of Followers/Fans/Subscribers 45,000 42,699 40,000 35,000 32,588 32,418 30,000 25,000 Twitter 20,000 Facebook 15,000 YouTube 10,000 4,880 5,348 5,681 5,000 777 949 841 0 Total Righ-leaning Left-leaning
  13. 13. The Two-Way Street: Relationship Building on Twitter  Political advocacy groups on Twitter are not just using social media as a platform for lobbying efforts.  The average account follows more than 2,000 other Twitter users. Right-leaning groups follow the highest number with an average number of accounts following of 3,354 versus 1,585 for Left-leaning groups. Average Number of Accounts Following on Twitter 4,000 3,500 3,354 3,000 2,500 2,261 2,000 1,585 1,500 1,000 500 0 Total Right-leaning Left-leaning
  14. 14. The Two-Way Street: Interacting With Stakeholders on Twitter  Seventy-six percent of advocacy groups are retweeting content from other users. Percentage of Groups Retweeting Content 100% 86% 80% 76% 64% 60% 40% 20% 0% Total Right-leaning Left-leaning
  15. 15. The Two-Way Street: Interacting With Stakeholders on Twitter  On Twitter, 73 percent of political advocacy groups mentioned or directly responded to others (by using the “@account” convention).  Left-leaning advocacy groups were more likely to mention or respond to others (93 percent) than Right-leaning groups (50 percent). Percentage of Groups Mentioning or Responding to Others on Twitter 100% 93% 80% 73% 60% 50% 40% 20% 0% Total Right-leaning Left-leaning
  16. 16. The Two-Way Street: Interacting With Stakeholders on Twitter  “Stakeholders” were defined as individuals who have an interest in the actions of the organization and can be affected by them. “Influencers” were defined as individuals such as journalists, organizations or politicians who have the ability to influence public opinion.  The percentages of advocacy groups that responded to stakeholders versus influencers were consistent across the board, showing that advocacy groups care equally about deepening their relationships with their stakeholders as well as influencers. Percentage of Groups Mentioning/Responding Percentage of Groups Mentioning/Responding to Influencers to Stakeholders 80% 80% 71% 61% 64% 61% 60% 60% 50% 43% 40% 40% 20% 20% 0% 0% Total Right-leaning Left-leaning Total Right-leaning Left-leaning
  17. 17. Examples of Groups Mentioning/Responding to Others
  18. 18. The Two-Way Street: Receiving Feedback from Stakeholders  Seventy-eight percent of political advocacy groups with Facebook pages allow their fans to post on their page.  Left-leaning groups were more likely to allow posts (92 percent) than Right-leaning groups. Percentage of Groups Allowing Fans to Post 100% 92% 78% 79% 80% 60% Total Right-leaning Left-leaning
  19. 19. Advocacy Groups Are Not Using Social Media For Raising Money  Less than a third of the political advocacy groups examined (21 percent on Twitter and 18 percent on Facebook) use Twitter and Facebook to ask for fundraising support. Percentage of Groups Asking for Fundraising Support 35% 30% 29% 29% 25% 21% 20% 19% 14% Twitter 15% Facebook 10% 8% 5% 0% Total Right-leaning Left-leaning
  20. 20. Observations About Social Media Content Overall, the study saw a variety of content published from political advocacy groups. While this study focused on looking at legislative, outreach and fundraising content other messages included: • Coalition building • Articles of interest • News or blog posts about the organization • Protests/ Gatherings •Hot button litigation •Candidate endorsements
  21. 21. Key Insights  Some Groups Still Use Social Media as Primarily One-Way Channel • These groups tend to use Social Media Platforms as a glorified RSS feed or newsletter. • These groups lose the enormous benefit of community engagement and stakeholder participation that comes with direct interaction.  Social Media Allows for Communication/Mobilization In (Near) Real Time • Whether during a lengthy legislative debate on the congressional floor (such as Healthcare Reform) or a public protest, advocacy groups are often using social media to communicate and even mobilize their supporters in real-time.  Both Facebook and Twitter are Leveraged to Encourage Outreach • Beyond building community and disseminating information well over one-half of Advocacy Groups – particularly Left-leaning groups - provide phone and email contact information to inspire calls-to-action by their followers.
  22. 22. Key Insights (continued)  Facebook is Heavily Used to Rally Base Supporters and Build Community • Facebook pages tend to become a destination for an organizations’ most devoted followers. The material and conversation posted to these pages is usually highly supportive of the organization. The Facebook page often becomes a virtual meeting place where supporters can cheerlead an organization’s efforts and disparage its opponents.  Twitter is Used for Disseminating Messages and Positions on Issues to Influencers and Other Stakeholders • Twitter appears to be used to broadcast an organization's positions and news. Some groups have engaged with influencers (such as media and politicians) directly on Twitter.
  23. 23. Contacts Dallas Lawrence Managing Director for Public Affairs 202.530.4615 Dallas.Lawrence@proofic.com www.twitter.com/dallaslawrence Ashley Welde Director of Strategy Development 212.614.4924 Ashley.Welde@bm.com