Social media has emerged as a powerful medium to organize and mobilize social movements. Particularly, the connective action of social media builds associations and allows movement continuity. Yet, there is a lack of research on how connective action emergent from social media messages sustains a long-term social movement. Accordingly, in this study, we concentrate on Twitter messages related to the Women’s March held in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Using an interpretive analysis followed by the topic modeling approach, we analyzed the tweets to identify the different types of messages associated with the movement. These messages were classified through a set of categories and subcategories. Furthermore, we conducted a temporal analysis of the message (sub)categories to understand how distinct messages allow movement continuity beyond a specific protest march. Results suggest that while most of the messages are used to motivate and mobilize individuals, the connective action tactics employed through messages sent before, during, and after the marches allowed the WM to become a broader and persistent movement. We advance theoretical propositions to explain the sustenance of a long-term social movement on social media, exemplified through large-scale connective action that persists over time. In doing so, this study contributes to connective action research by providing message categorization synthesizing the meaning of the content of the messages. The findings could help social movement organizers learn different ways to frame messages that resonate with broader social media users. Moreover, our approach to analyzing a large set of tweets might interest other qualitative researchers.
Syed, Romilla and Silva, Leiser, "Social Movement Sustenance on Social Media: An Analysis of Women’s March Movement on Twitter" (2022). JAIS Preprints (Forthcoming). 57.
Available at: https://aisel.aisnet.org/jais_preprints/57