America: Nation of "Slacktivists"

Last Updated Aug 26, 2009 3:04 PM EDT

One in four "online Americans" now regularly creates or reacts to social media content. With the click of a mouse, its never been easier to broadcast complaints about customer service on Twitter, protest a politician by joining a Facebook group or support efforts to save the whales by signing an online petition.

In some cases, these social media connections have real world implications. Protesters may meet up online before taking their pitckforks to the townhall debates. Media coverage of a viral campaign might affect whether consumers hold their brand allegiances.

However, it's worth asking whether most of these efforts amount to anything more than "slacktivism," defined as "feel-good online activism that has zero political or social impact." It's nice to have virtual fans supporting your cause or company. But ultimately, social media platforms should serve as tools that help you achieve specific objectives. Are you really converting these connections into cash?

  • Stefan Deeran

    Stefan Deeran helps environmental nonprofits and green businesses develop and execute their new media campaigns. He also publishes The Exception magazine, a nonpartisan news platform serving his home state of Maine. You can follow him on Twitter @RStefanDeeran or via Facebook.