Date of Award:

5-2020

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education

Advisor/Chair:

Kelsey Hall

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Roslynn McCann

Third Advisor:

Debra Spielmaker

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore how Utah State University (USU) Extension Sustainability uses Facebook to engage followers. The researcher conducted a quantitative content analysis of 504 messages posted to the USU Extension Sustainability Facebook page. Graphics and links were the most common post characteristics used. Text-only posts and posts containing videos were used the least. Food was the most common area of sustainability discussed on the page. Posts containing videos, shared content, or that tagged other pages in Facebook messages experienced statistically significantly higher user engagement than posts without those characteristics. Posts containing hashtags experienced statistically significantly lower engagement. Neutral sentiment appeared in the majority of posts. Additionally, information seeking was the most dominant communicative function among the posts. Neither the type of sentiment nor communicative functions were significantly connected to engagement.

Future research should determine changes in knowledge, attitudes, intentions, and behavior as a result of exposure to, and engagement with, the Facebook page. Additionally, a qualitative study determining consumers’ attitudes toward Facebook content can provide a deeper understanding of the audiences’ thought processes and content preferences.

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