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Using Twitter To Transform Followers Into Vocal Advocates for Your Cause

Free access to the latest research on using Twitter to influence social change

United Kingdom, 28 October 2014 – With over 500 million active daily users, Twitter has become the main social media platform for organizations to engage with their public.  For social marketers, this platform is critical in spreading their messages, and in doing so, influence social change.  New research published in the Journal of Social Marketing from global publisher, Emerald Group Publishing, has analysed over 3000 tweets by more than 50 large American non-profits to reveal the specific types of messages that are more likely to get stakeholders re-tweeting, archiving, and discussing the organizations’ social causes.

Moving social marketing beyond personal change to social change’ is the first study to focus on the types of tweets that elicit the most engagement from stakeholders.   It is published as part of a special issue on social marketing and social change, which is freely available to read until the 10th November by visiting

Lead author of the study, Jeanine P. D. Guidry, comments: “Social media opens a pathway for vulnerability and unscripted conversations, which is scary for many organizations.  Yet it is this vulnerability that provides an authentic voice than ultimately brings more genuine engagement.”

Of the non-profit organizations analysed, ranging from the American Heart Association to the New York Public Library, the study found that during a two week time period, 68 per cent of tweets were informational sharing in nature, 19 per cent represented promotion and only 13 per cent sought to engage and interact with community building messages.

Interestingly, while call-to-action messages were more likely to generate re-tweets and conversations, community building messages were the most successful at creating dialogue with audiences, and it was these messages that were more inclined to grow organizational efforts organically.   Marketing and public education messages were outperformed on all engagement metrics.

For social marketers, these results indicate that time spent on social media efforts are mostly off target with their stakeholders.  Jeanine concludes: “Instead of spending the bulk of marketing resources on education and attitude change, organizations would be better served to provide content that the public are more likely to share and discuss within their own social networks.  In essence, they should work to determine how to transform their supporters into vocal advocates for their causes.”

This research is published the Journal of Social Marketing, Volume 4, Issue 3. 

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