The social media participation framework: studying the effects of social media on nonprofit communities

Research output: ThesisPhD Thesis - Research UT, graduation UT

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Social media could help nonprofit communities to organize their communication with their members in new and innovative ways. This could contribute to sustaining or improving the participation of members within these communities. Yet little is known of how to measure and understand the offline community effects of social media use. Therefore, the main question of this study is: “How does the use of social media by members of nonprofit communities affect their offline participation?” The Social Media Participation Framework was developed to address this question. It is an initial theoretical framework that aims to contribute to discovering the effects of Social Media Participation on Offline Community Participation. A new measure was created to capture social media participation levels: The Social Media Indicator (SMI) which divides the intensity of use of social media into two aspects: Contribution (e-enabling) and Interaction (e-engagement), following the e-participation theory of Macintosh. In order to test the theoretical framework, it was employed in three longitudinal, multi-method, case studies. The 1st case study was regarding a City Council and its elected political party members in Enschede, The Netherlands. The 2nd case was a Roman Catholic Church community around Oldenzaal in The Netherlands. The 3rd case was based on the Apostolic Society in Enschede, the Netherlands. The church communities who had defined social media strategies were experiencing added value from social media. However, in the case of the council, members who had higher scores for Social Media Use showed significantly lower scores for their Sense of Community. The evidence in this study does not support the idea that social media is ‘the cure’ for the decline in member participation in nonprofit communities. Based on the experiences of the framework in these case studies a revised framework is proposed which addresses the limitations of its predecessor. This study contributed to reducing the void of theories and frameworks for studying social media and its effects on communities.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Twente
  • University of Twente
  • van Hillegersberg, Jos, Supervisor
  • Huibers, Theo W.C., Supervisor
Award date12 Nov 2014
Place of PublicationEnschede
Print ISBNs978-90-365-3749-0
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2014


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