Harnessing Social Media Behaviors to Redefine the Landscape of Digital Activism.
UX Design, UX Research
3 Months (May-Jul. 2023)
1 Project Manager, 2 UX Designers
In recent years, social media platforms have become breeding grounds for performative activism and superficial impact. We challenged this unintended consequence of social media by bringing the impact of traditional activism into an online experience while still offering a space to share and engage in content. Thus came Amplify, a new social media platform that engages individuals with content that actually drives them to make a measurable difference - minus the performativity.
Research Goals → Methodologies
Modeling Social Media Content Experiences
To better understand how performative activism relates to social media, we reviewed published research and similar case studies on the topic. We then used our findings to model the journey users take when interacting with social media content to evaluate any areas that might influence content sharing behaviors in the context of online activism. [sources]
Social Media has enabled performative activism through its content interaction features.
The rise of social media has boosted performative activism, where users and organizations often engage in superficial actions for personal or branding purposes.
Goals and Success Metrics
Amplify aims to harness the engagement of social media to build a platform that generates measurable impact.
Boost engagement rates on educational content
Track engagement ratios to monitor behavior patterns
Increase click-rates on petitions, webinars, etc.
‼️ Social media is engaging but fostering unhealthy activism behaviors
Competitive Analysis and Positioning
Once we evaluated existing content models, we the looked at how we could position the product to be unique and relevant. We settled on creating an experience as engaging as TikTok and Instagram, but as informative and impactful as Change.org and TurnUp - TLDR; news, but cool!
Observing our Audience
We surveyed 75+ social media users and interviewed 8 of them to measure their opinions on online activism and it's impact. We then interviewed 4 social media professionals in the non-profit sector to see how social media activism affects their work.
Key Insights and Take-Aways
Repeat exposure to social issues on social media can lead to activism fatigue, because individuals are flooded with ongoing issues without seeing the positive progress.
People feel pressured to like and share activism-related content because their sharing behaviors are automatically displayed to their mutual followers.
Personalized vs. Worldly
People are discomforted by echo chambers on social media, but are still hesitant to interact with content outside their bubble to avoid disrupting their customized experience.
How does the way people interact with content on social media affect their online activism behaviors?
How are existing social media and news apps positioned in the online activism space?
What are some factors that affect the way people perceive online activism and it's impacts?
Surveys and Interviews
Our survey found that people are evenly split when it comes to how they perceive the impact of online activism. We synthesized these varying perceptions into the "Perceived Impact Spectrum" which visually ranks the ways people engage with online activism. We then used this spectrum to segment our audience and start ideating relevant features for each audience segment.
Competitive Analysis (...again)
As we started thinking about how we can use our research to inform our design decisions, we chose to revisit our competitive analysis with a larger focus on product features rather than positioning this time. This round of analysis allowed us to hone our ideas on what features to include in the product.
Connecting Advocates to Causes over Individuals.
All Roads lead to Impact.
Traditional social media platforms prioritize follower engagement through shares, likes, and comments which, in the activism context, motivates users to like and share content solely to "fit in". Amplify flips this content model by focusing on collective impact instead of individuals' interactions, incentivizing users to work together for measurable, reputable goals like signing a petition or funding a relief fund.
DESIGN & PROTOTYPE
Designing our Content Viewing Journey
Content is the largest interaction touchpoint of any social media platform. It's also the aspect we can least control. To accommodate this, we strategically mapped out our content viewing experience to determine which features we can add to enable UGC to drive relevant and measurable impact.
Building and Iterating our Lo-Fi Prototype.
Using Maze, we tested our prototype with 5 individuals, 3 of whom work in the social media and content creation space. This round of testing mainly focused on edits to the information architecture of each page.
Visual Style Guide
Building and Iterating our Hi-Fi Prototype.
In this round of testing, we linked the CTA button to real-life content like petitions and proposed legislation. This allowed us to gauge user interest through real-time click-rate data. We did this to evaluate how effective our content interaction features were in inspiring people to take action and found that real-time updates on legislation and petition progress generated the highest engagement.
A Content Feed that's Guiding you to Impact.
The content feed simplifies discovering, following, and advocating for causes. Whether you engage by boosting an issue through likes and comments or signing a petition, every content interaction feature enables individuals to generate measurable impact. Users are then incentivized to continue engaging with the app after seeing the collective impacts of the causes they helped support.
Search for Causes and Stay Up-to-Date on your Impacts.
Our research found that the saturation of disheartening issues shared online made users feel like their online impacts were insignificant. The Explore page addresses this by highlighting users' real-world impact through personalized cards, showcasing the positive impact of their signed petitions, donations, and advocated legislation. These cards enable users to join the conversation, comment on recent successes, and celebrate collective impact.
Posting Content with Intention for Impact.
Our unique posting experience focuses on meaningful engagement by categorizing content by cause to amplify impactful opportunities rather than individual accounts. We categorize content by having users select the category their cause falls under and provide them with a CTA button that can lead to petitions, webinars, etc. to generate measurable impact.