Acton Institute Powerblog

How are free-market think tanks doing on social media?

Alejandro Chafuen, Acton’s Managing Director, International, posted his annual analysis of think tanks’ use of social media last week in Forbes. He wrote:

Due to the coronavirus pandemic think tanks around the world are working under quarantine and have cancelled all events in the coming months. They will have to rely more on social media to get their messages across. How successful are free-market think tanks today in trying to attract traffic to their websites, as well as views and followers on other platforms?

Think tanks’ digital impact continues to grow more through social media platforms than through website traffic. This year, the web traffic numbers look lower than in previous years because SimilarWeb changed its unique and hard-to-replicate methodology. By SimilarWeb’s numbers for last year, free market think tanks lost an average of 30% of their web traffic compared to the previous year, but I ascribe this to SimilarWeb’s changes in measurement methods.

This article presents free-market organizations’ performance during the last twelve months on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, SimilarWeb, LinkedIn and Instagram.

The entire Forbes piece can be read here.

Not included in the Forbes article but relevant from an Acton perspective are stats on U.S. groups and universities with a specifically religious outlook, such as the Napa Institute, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Catholic University of America’s Institute for Human Ecology, and others. Such groups tend to have smaller social media efforts, though one significant exception is Scott Hahn’s St. Paul Center, which boasts more than a million Facebook likes and in excess of 11,000 YouTube subscribers.

Universities that focus on a free society—such as Hillsdale, Grove City College, or John Brown University—also tend to have greater numbers. Hillsdale is the leader among the universities measured on every platform except LinkedIn, where it trails Regent University and Trinity University.

While social media stats shouldn’t be our only—or even our primary—measure of success, no one can deny the prevalence of social networks in today’s world, and many groups expend considerable energy in their efforts to succeed in this field.

(Photo credit:Book Catalog. CC BY 2.0.)

Joshua Gregor

Joshua Gregor is International Relations Assistant at the Acton Institute. Before coming to Acton he received a BA in philosophy from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome and an MA in linguistics from Indiana University.