Ohio University’s Media Arts and Studies faculty member Dr. Laeeq Khan recently led a team of researchers from the program to successfully complete a research project about charity via social media. Doctoral students, Zulfia Zaher and Bowen Gao were co-authors on the study that has been recently published in International Journal of Communication.
The article, "Communicating on Twitter for Charity: Understanding the Walls of Kindness Initiative in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan" offers valuable insights into a new form of charity initiative that spread in various countries around the world. Wall of Kindness is a unique yet simple idea that makes sharing easier and dignified. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the researchers employed the theoretical lens of Social Influence to explore how individuals and organizations can employ Twitter to promote charitable initiatives.
Per the study’s abstract:
This study highlights the important role of social media for charity through an analysis of tweets about the “Wall of Kindness” charity initiative in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, we employ a theoretical lens of Social Influence to explore how individuals and organizations employed Twitter to promote charitable initiatives. User engagement on Twitter centered on content sharing, identification through hashtags, and imitative behaviors promoted the Wall of Kindness initiative across countries. Results from the thematic analysis revealed that Twitter users were tweeting about the Wall of Kindness to provide information, encourage donations, inspire others into action, and build an online community. Our content analysis revealed that a majority of the tweets were neutral and supportive of the initiative; users mostly shared textual information, followed by images, videos, tweeted news links, and solicited donations about the Wall of Kindness. Furthermore, media organizations, wall enthusiasts, and journalists were most active in tweeting about the charity initiative. Implications for future research are discussed.
The authors believe that through their research, journalists, policy makers, philanthropists, individuals, and various forms of organizations can further meaningful causes via social media.
"We aim to foster impactful research that benefits humanity" Dr. Khan said. "Our latest research article weaves together various analytics techniques to highlight the important role of online social media for sharing information to make possible and promote charity in the physical world.”