Nearly one in three African American adults (30%) and four in ten Hispanics (39%) say they are more likely to support a cause or social issue online than offline today — both significantly higher percentages than Caucasians (24%), according to the new Dynamics of Cause Engagement study. Jointly conducted in late 2010 by Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, the study examined trends in cause involvement and the roles of a variety of activities in fostering engagement with social issues among American adults age 18 and over.
Social Media & Ethnicity by the Numbers :
Among American adults, there appear to be some significant differences in how the ethnicities perceive social media and their effectiveness in facilitating cause involvement. African Americans and Hispanics are significantly more likely to believe that they can help get the word out about a social issue or cause through online social networks (58% and 51%, respectively, vs. 34% of Caucasians). They also subscribe more readily to the belief that social networking sites like Facebook make it easier to support causes today, and that these sites help increase visibility for causes.
While traditional media (print and television) and personal relationships remain the primary ways in which Americans learn about causes, both African Americans and Hispanics are significantly more likely than Caucasians to look to social media as an additional source of information (31% and 27% vs. 21%, respectively). Similarly, social media are not among the top ways Americans most often support causes—donating money or personal items, talking to others and learning about the issues rank the highest—but again, African Americans and Hispanics are significantly more likely than Caucasians to engage with causes through promotional social media activities (e.g., joining a cause group on Facebook, posting a logo to a social profile, contributing to blogs).
Social Media Overload?
Americans are generally in agreement when it comes to potential cause-related social media overload, though they differ in the degree to which certain tools drive their “cause fatigue” the most. For example, Caucasians are significantly more likely to feel that emails about causes sometimes feel like spam (76%, vs. 66% of African Americans and 69% of Hispanics). Hispanics are significantly more likely to believe that everybody “likes” causes on Facebook and it doesn’t really mean anything. And while half of Caucasians and Hispanics (48% and 51%, respectively) agree that they get too many emails about causes now, a significantly lower number of African Americans (33%) feel this way.
Supporting Causes is a Family Affair
Americans are in strong agreement that everyone can make a difference by supporting causes. However, African Americans and Hispanics are significantly more likely than Caucasians to believe that supporting causes makes them feel like a part of a community. They also are significantly more likely to feel that it is important that their family be involved in causes (55% of Hispanics and 54% of African Americans, vs. 46% of Caucasians), and to have been actively involved in supporting causes when growing up (40% of Hispanics and 45% of African Americans, vs. 32% of Caucasians).
Overall, Americans are in agreement when it comes to the causes in which they are most involved, with supporting our troops, feeding the hungry and health-related causes (e.g., breast cancer and heart disease) topping the list. However, African Americans and Hispanics are significantly more likely than Caucasians to be involved in several key issues, including diabetes, domestic violence, bullying, childhood obesity, Haiti relief and HIV/AIDS.