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DaTactic, Data with Tactics: Description and Evaluation of a New Format of Online Campaigning for NGOs

Abstract. Social media has emerged as a powerful communication channel to promote actions and raise social awareness. Initiatives through social media are being driven by NGOs to increase the scope and effectiveness of their campaigns. In this paper, we describe the #DaTactic2 campaign, which is both an offline and online initiative supported by Oxfam Interm´on devised to gather activists and NGOs practitioners and create awareness on the importance of the 2014 European Parliament election. We provide details regarding the background of the campaign, as well as the objectives, the strategies that have been implemented and an empirical evaluation of its performance through an analysis of the impact on Twitter. Our findings show the effectiveness of bringing together relevant actors in an offline event and the high value of creating multimedia content in order to increase the scope and virality of the campaign.

1 Introduction

Social media have become a central tool to increase awareness of social issues and political change. Online social networks have emerged as a channel through which discussion is promoted, supporters and activists are organized and tactics during urban demonstrations and protests are defined. Social media have also become a new paradigm for the creation of collective identities and for sharing alternative storytelling outside traditional offline media through the logic of connective action[2].

This emerging form of activism can overcome academics and users´ disappointment with regard to slacktivism the perception that these tools and their use are too superfluous, superficial or ephemeral[11]. However, the catalytic role of social media in the recent new social movements (e.g. the Arab Spring, the Spanish 15M movement or the Occupy Wall Street movement) is currently being confirmed from a sociological and political point of view[5, 13]. Research carried out from a Social Network Analysis (SNA) perspective on recent mobilizations has allowed to create key concepts and identify clear evidence on networks and communication [6–9]. This knowledge is currently presented under a very technical and academic format, thus restricting activists and social practitioners´ access to this useful know-how for their future advocacy work. Among other objectives, the #DaTactic initiative intends to fill this knowledge gap. Our proposal is that the new format of #DaTactic is opening a door to social media´s potential for the achievement of social good through collective strategy, in order words, data science for social good.

As of October 2014, two editions of #DaTactic events have taken place. Organized as “training-action” events, each edition had that double objective. With regard to training, the aim is to easily share knowledge about SNA for social action. As for action, the objective is to carry out collectively a specific social media process using digital tactics based on the insights regarding digital methods[12]. In that sense, #DaTactic aims to offer an entirely new offline/online format for NGOs and activists by using SNA techniques prospectively, informing about digital tactics and reaching out to a broad range of communities in order to obtain a broader scope.

This article will first introduce the origin of the #DaTactic initiative. After a brief description of the first edition, this article will focus on #DaTactic2, which took place simultaneously in Barcelona and Madrid on May 22, 2014. The action

#OccupyEP2014 intended to show the importance of the European Elections and encourage Spanish citizens to vote by implementing a collective social media strategy. Then, we evaluate if the digital tactics were successful and whether the hypotheses of creating multimedia content and gathering offline profiles to increase online impacts are valid. Finally, we conclude with a discussion about the results obtained from the analysis of #DaTactic2.

 
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