In regard to participation in voluntary groups and organizations, the Internet and social media are playing a key role in how people interact and share information, according to a new study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. MediaPost News reports the findings of this recent study, noting that 80% of Internet users are involved in groups compared to 56% of non-users and 75% of all American adults. Social media users are more likely to be actively involved, with 82% of social network users and 85% of Twitter users participating in groups.
Three-quarters of Internet users, and 68% of all Americans, believe that the Internet has helped make voluntary organizations more effective. The majority of Americans also said that the Web had improved the ability of groups to raise money, increase awareness and impact society at large.
On a personal level, 53% of Americans who are active in groups say the Internet has played a major role in helping them keep up with information about their groups, yet only 24% involved in groups say the Internet had a large impact on their ability to contribute time or money.
The Pew study also shows that groups are strongly using social media to connect with members. Of Americans involved in groups, 48% have a page on a social networking site like Facebook, 42% use text messaging, 30% have their own blog and 16% use Twitter.
Most Americans have a positive view of the Internet’s influence on group activities, with demographic groups such as college graduates, young people (18- to 29-year-olds) and social networkers more likely to say the Internet has had a major impact on groups than other demographic segments.
The study also reveals that social media is more actively used by certain groups, with the most usage by consumer groups, followed by sports or recreation leagues, charitable organizations, trade associations, and neighborhood or community groups. Last on the list of approximately 20 categories are fan groups of products or brands, which amount to only 5% participation by social media users.
Surprisingly, the Pew study found that three-quarters of active group members say they learned about new groups mostly offline. Still, 46% of Web users who are active in one or more groups credit the Internet with helping them join a greater number of organizations.
This Pew study on the Internet and voluntary groups is based on a survey of 2,303 U.S. adults conducted by phone from November to December 2010 by Princeton Survey Research Associates. The results reveal how the Internet and social media are helping voluntary groups and organizations connect on personal, societal and technological levels every day.
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Written by Michael Del Gigante