• A Study of Social Media's Effectiveness as a Vehicle for Social Change

      Vincent, Cindy; Culp, Judith (2015-05-01)
      Human trafficking is one of the greatest sources of crime in the world, second only to the drug trade. Modern day slavery isn’t just an issue abroad, though, it happens in the United States every day. Public relations experts are calling social media the next big industry secret, but can it tackle social issues this big? Social media is a cheap alternative to traditional public relations tactics that are too costly for nonprofit organizations, but it might not be the best way to create the lasting change they are looking for. In this study, I tested how I could use social media to show college students that human trafficking is happening in their backyards and they have the tools to end it at their fingertips. I posted photos, videos, infographics, quotes, articles, and information about anti-trafficking organizations daily for two months on Facebook and Twitter and monitored likes, shares, favorites, and retweets. At the end of the study, I encouraged followers to take a survey that asked about their engagement with the posts on social media and their actions offline regarding the information. I hope that other researchers will continue this work so we can understand the effectiveness of this industry trend.