Social media can allow an organization’s supporters to use their personal influence to promote a cause. In this audio lecture from the 2013 Nonprofit Management Institute, Julie Dixon discusses different types of cause supporters—from passive online ones to offline activists—and how organizations can engage them. She argues that many potential supporters, believing that organizations want only monetary donations, may be discouraged from supporting a cause, even though they can support it in another way: through influence. Dixon cites the popularity of websites like Yelp to show that people are more likely to trust their peers’ testimony than an organization’s and that organizations should encourage their supporters to engage meaningfully on social media to spread their causes. By empowering supporters through the knowledge that they can have a real impact, organizations can tap into the often-ignored power of influence.

Julie Dixon is the Deputy Director of Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication (CSIC). She manages the day-to-day operations of the center, including applied research, training, curriculum, partnership development, and outreach. Prior to joining the university in 2011, Julie was the Assistant Director of the Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. Dixon completed a master’s degree in public relations, with a focus on corporate social responsibility and sustainability, at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.