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Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly


Nonprofits use social media to pursue a broad range of mission-related outcomes. Given the centrality of user connections and social networks on these sites, attaining these outcomes is contingent on first generating a stock of online social capital through investing in online relationships. Yet, little is known empirically about this process. To better understand the return on social media, this study develops empirical measures of four key dimensions of social media–based social capital centering on the nature of nonprofits’ network positions and stakeholder ties. The study then tests a series of hypotheses relating the increase in social capital to different types of stakeholder engagement tactics. Using Twitter data on 198 community foundations, the study finds that content with multiple communication cues and intersectoral stakeholder targeting predict higher levels of social capital; communicative and stakeholder diversity, thus, appear to play a key role in the successful organizational use of social media.



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