Do You Even Notice Us? A Master Thesis on Facebook’s Potential for Behavior Regulating Campaigns With a Young Target Audience

Louise Lambæk Roldsgaard & Stine Fog

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Social media including Facebook is increasingly used as a channel to sell products and communicate messages. However, the increasing amount of information on social media has resulted in consumers experiencing an information overload which interferes with their information processing. This master thesis examines whether Facebook is an ideal medium to use for behavior regulating campaigns considering their young target audiences’ motives for using Facebook. An answer to this will help communication practitioners with important messages evaluate if Facebook is worth investing in, and, if so, how they should do it. The theoretical foundation of this thesis builds on an uses and gratifications approach which determines our understanding of the receiver. In addition, theory on clutter and persuasion with a focus on social cognitive theory are included in our theoretical framework. In combination, these theories are used to analyze the potential of Facebook for behavior regulating campaigns. In terms of methodology, the thesis applies a multi-case study of three behavior regulating campaigns to illustrate the challenges of obtaining engagement in Facebook posts and to support the fact that the gratifications people seek from a medium can impact how the posts are received. A quantitative content analysis of the three campaigns’ Facebook posts is conducted to analyze the engagement in these. Furthermore, qualitative in-depth interviews with the senders of the campaigns and with their target audiences are performed to investigate the thoughts behind the campaigns and to analyze the young Danes’ motives for using Facebook respectively. A finding is that the three campaigns have reached a low amount of engagement on Facebook. However, posts containing video or using humor, fear or empowerment perform better. The young Danes’ motives for using Facebook are maintenance of friendships, entertainment, surveillance, pastime, helping friends, keep updated on content in the News Feed, social inclusion, and using the medium as a practical communication tool. In relation to this, they generally do not engage in posts on Facebook except from when it comes to satisfying needs related to entertainment and maintenance of friendships. The young Danes have a high perception of clutter on Facebook. Consequently, they use the medium superficially and reject content contradictory to their sought gratifications and beliefs. Therefore, it is both difficult to get the young audience’s attention on Facebook and to promote a behavior change against their attitudes. In conclusion, communication practitioners face many challenges when using Facebook as a medium to disseminate a behavior regulating message to a young audience. However, they can take steps to accommodate these challenges by appealing to the young people’s motives for using Facebook in the design of communication products and using modeling to increase the chances of attitude and behavior change.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2019
Number of pages283