The social activist platform recently analyzed over 164,000 petition titles from the past 18 months to understand what makes an online petition become a social movement.
In an age saturated with social activism, it’s impossible for every petition to
gain viral status or celebrity endorsements. In a new first-of-its-kind report, Change.org reveals what takes a cause from an online appeal to a social movement.
- While the Internet encourages you to speak your mind in 280 characters, Change.org found people who wrote longer titles with key details gained more support.
- The very first word in a title is crucial. In some cases, it was associated with 2.5x more engagement when gaining supporters.
- Surprisingly, optimism pays off. While words like ‘stop’ or ‘ban’ are much more common, petitions with the most engagement employ keywords like ‘grant,’ ‘save,’ or ‘protect.’
Considering Change.org users created over six million petitions by 2018, breaking through the noise is critical. Drawing on the largest dataset of online activism in the world, the new report analyzes internal raw text and data from over 164,0000 English-speaking petitions with at least five signatures from the last 18 months. The findings provide key insights into the art and science of crafting a successful petition title.
“In the United States, more aggressive terms like “Justice” and “Oppose” correlated with the highest median petition supporters, whereas “Save” was the most effective first word in Canada, Australia, and the UK. In the UK, both softer (“Provide”) and harsher (“Demand”) words did well, and it was also the only country in which “Reverse” appeared in the top 5 (perhaps owing somewhat to the controversial Brexit vote).” – Nick Allardice, Chief Product Officer at Change.org.
With passionate people from around the globe looking to rally for a cause, the need to provide a unified movement is more important than ever, and hashtags can do just that. They found while hashtags don’t offer any search functionality on Change.org, petitions utilizing them perform disproportionally well. Only 1% of titles have hashtags, yet they do exceptionally better than the 99% that don’t.
Petition titles with hashtags see over 2.5x more engagement in the form of supporters than those without. This finding furthers the idea that developing a ‘cause identity’ across all social platforms builds support and engagement through a unified brand.
“There are many recommendations on how to capture the hearts, eyes, and imaginations of potential supporters with an attention-grabbing petition title, but no title is perfect. The petitions that succeed on Change.org do so because they’re made by passionate people those with the audacity to believe that the seemingly small act of starting an online petition can free the unjustly imprisoned, drive meaningful steps toward economic gender equality, or create a permanent means of support for heroes.”– Nick Allardice, Chief Product Officer at Change.org.
Change.org, the world’s platform for change, allows people across the globe to make campaigns, mobilize supporters and work with decision-makers to drive solutions, creating the largest community of activists in the world. To read the full report, click here.
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Feature image credit Tommi Boom via Flickr.