This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research Center.
This study explores how Millennials are engaging in social media activism and whether online activism is driving offline activism behaviors. The results showed that Millennials engage in online activism behaviors to a greater extent than offline activism behaviors. Millennials primarily gratify intrinsic needs for interaction, belonging, and control by engaging in social media activism behaviors. So-called “slacktivist” behaviors were most common among Millennials engaging in online activism. Similarly, online activism behaviors that require greater investment from Millennials were a good predictor of activism behaviors that occur offline.
A quantitative survey of 306 participants was conducted to learn the gratifications Millennials obtain through social media and whether associations exist between their online and offline activism behaviors.
— Millennial participants did not have a strong inclination to engage in online activism behaviors but participated in these behaviors to a greater degree than in offline activism.
— Millennials are primarily “slacktivists” (i.e., actual information-seeking behaviors and knowledge about an issue are lacking; however, involvement in the issue is high) when it comes to engaging in activist behaviors and some generally refrain from engaging in these issues both online and offline.
— When Millennials do engage in social media activism, they are primarily fulfilling interpersonal utility, social interaction gratifications of expression, belonging, and participation, or a desire to influence others.
— Online activism among Millennials gains its greatest momentum during the imminent stage when linkages and networks are emphasized for legitimizing the issue.
— Tangible online activities that are more difficult to engage in than slacktivism behaviors are the best predictors of offline activist behaviors among Millennials.
Implications for Practice
— Millennial engagement in online activism does not automatically translate to offline activist behavior, which is a key concept as both activist and non-activist organizations seek to obtain support and avoid backlash from this major demographic.
— Public relations professionals should consider Millennial needs for social identification and control to create awareness, mobilization, and action for activism, especially given the emergence of corporate social advocacy/corporate activism.
— Issues in the imminent stages where mobilization (e.g., sharing experiences, signing online petitions) and tangible online activism (e.g., contacting a political leader, changing of profile pictures) are occurring indicate a significantly greater likelihood that offline activist behavior will occur (e.g., boycotts, rallies or marches).
— Garnering Millennial support around social-political issues in an online context is important as the support these issues garner from Millennials who drive much of the public debate can result in changes to laws, policies, and regulations.
Dookhoo, S. R., & Dodd, M. (2019). Slacktivists or activists? Millennial motivations and behaviors for engagement in activism. Public Relations Journal, 13(1).
Location of Article
This article is available online here.