The utilization of social media for youth outreach engagement: A case study

Chitat Larry Chan, Michael J. Holosko

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports a case study that aimed to explore and conceptualize the use of social media in youth outreach engagement in Hong Kong. It used “social media affordance” as a heuristic lens to inform the analysis. This concept refers to the latent utility of social media, which is dependent on both the intrinsic features of social media and the perceptions of the users. In this study, this includes the reviewability, visibility, authoring capabilities, and associative capabilities of social media. We conducted a thematic analysis on data collected including: official service statistics, meeting notes, focus group discussions, and the practitioners’ presentation notes. Major and minor themes were organized with reference to the outreach techniques noted by the practitioners. Significant affordance(s) supporting each technique were identified. The findings revealed specific outreach techniques used by the practitioners including: (i) online searches, (ii) initial encounters before direct verbal dialogue, (iii) ice-breaking via multi-modal communication, and (iv) snowballing. Compared to youth outreach in physical settings, online outreach demonstrates greater visibility of interactions and improved immediacy, but also implies losing privacy, and changes in professional identity. Moreover, the findings showed that each technique was arguably related more to particular affordances than some others, denoting a tacit knowledge informing practitioners to make their choices. These observations inspired further discussion about the significance of a reliable conceptual framework that can guide social workers to identify, compare, and further adapt technologies to enhance their current practice.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10.1177/1473325016638917
Pages (from-to)680-697
Number of pages18
JournalQualitative Social Work
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • intervention
  • Technology
  • young people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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