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What’s the Beef about Facebook: A Content Analysis of Junior Cattle Breed Association

Engagement on Facebook
 
 
Abstract

Increased use and reliance on social media in today’s youth has provided a strong

medium in which youth organizations can communicate with their audience. Social media

platforms allow for two-way communication and an open dialogue between organizations and

their audiences helping them foster more successful communicates efforts. Using this type of

communication also allows organizations to strengthen the relationships and build trust with their

audiences. This study explored how five junior cattle breed associations communicate with their

audience through a Facebook content analysis. The Angus, Hereford, Simmental, Brahman, and

Shorthorn association’s Facebook pages were analyzed to determine the reactions, comments,

and shares they were receiving, what types of posts they were making, how their followers were

reacting to posts, and how they were using Facebook to respond to their audiences. Results

showed that post containing graphics and videos performed better than those with just text, and

the associations that used these types of content displayed a greater level of engagement with

followers. Results also indicated that the Angus and Hereford associations, the two associations

with the highest number of page likes, showed higher levels of overall engagement with

followers. Results of this study can be used by other youth organizations to strengthen their

Facebook activity to encourage and foster better engagement with their audiences.

KEYWORDS: content analysis, social media, Facebook, breed associations, youth


organizations, agricultural communications, user engagement
Introduction/Literature Review

Social media platforms continue to increase in popularity, especially among youth and

young adults. Reliance and trust in social media has increased among these younger generations,

leaving it as the most convenient way to communicate and interact with them (Lee & Horsley,

2017). According to Seitz (2014), millennials and young people use social media as their main

source of news and information. As more traditional sources of news gathering are replaced by

online social media, youth organizations should turn to their social media sites as a means of

engaging and communicating to their audiences about important news and updates.

Social media has been defined as mobile and web-based technologies used to foster

highly interactive platforms for users to share, modify, and create new content (Kietzmann et al.,

2011). A unique aspect of social media is that both the public and organizations can create

content and participate in two-way communication (Reitz, 2012). Two-way communication is

important in making sure organizational decisions are mutually beneficial for the organization

and its audience (Grunig & Hunt, 1984). It is also important for organizations to understand how

to make their brand an accepted and valued member of the social media community to encourage

two-way communication. Social media provides opportunity not only for two-way

communication but also interpersonal engagement, interactivity, and two-way dialogue (Lovejoy

& Saxton, 2012). All of these things being what audiences, stakeholders, and organization

members strive to have with an organization to harbor a successful relationship. Social media

provides platforms for organizations to communicate and have conversations with their audience

to build such relationships.

Of social media platforms, Facebook has had increasing activity over the past several

years and is the most widely used major social media platform (Pew Research Center, 2017).

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While young adults were the earliest adopters of the site, usage by older adults has increased, and

a better representation of users spanning the broader population has been seen in recent years

(Pew Research Center, 2017). According to Facebook (2017), there were 1.28 billion daily active

users on average in March 2017 and by the end of June 2017 active users had increased to 2

billion. The steady increase in user numbers benefits organizations that strive to reach their

audiences faster and more efficiently and makes Facebook an ideal outlet to use for informal

communication efforts.

“Understanding the Facebook community and how to engage them (is) of paramount

importance” (Hodis, et al., 2015, p. 1275). This holds true for organizations as they can build

relationships with their stakeholders and reach organizational goals through Facebook. Audience

engagement and participation is important for an organization’s success, especially in online

media. Research has found, for example, that incorporating multimedia formats such as links,

photos, and graphics increases engagement with posts (Abitbol & Lee, 2017).

“In order to legitimize a brand’s presence within Facebook and successfully engage

consumers, it is necessary to maintain an up-to-date, interactive, entertaining and personalized

page” (Hodis et al., 2015, p. 1276). Facebook success is also contingent upon a brand’s presence

and shared ownership of the page with its audience. This includes the organization sharing their

audiences content and not just posting their own, as well as the organization responding to

comments from followers. Facebook engagement is measured by audience interactions such as

reactions (like, love, haha, wow, sad, and angry), comments, and shares of posts (Leander,

2011). According to Facebook (2017), reacting/liking a comment is an easy way to let people

express their feelings about a post without leaving a comment. Commenting on a post is a greater

expression of engagement allowing users to tell the source what they think about the post in

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more detail. Finally, sharing a post allows a user to share content with personal friends and

followers and allows them to post their own text along with it.

Research has shown that it is essential for an organization to have a social media

presence in today’s world (Bergstrom & Backman, 2013). This allows for open dialogue and

transparency between organizations and their membership, consumers, or stakeholders. Research

shows that Internet users expect organizations to engage in a two-way online dialogue with them

through a social media presence (Cone, 2008), because people want to have an outlet for open

discussion with organizations to deepen relationships and ultimately trust.

With the growing popularity of Facebook, several agricultural organizations have created

groups or pages to promote their messages or causes, with some being very active in encouraging

membership participation, asking for feedback, and posting news for their members (Meyers et

al., 2011). This includes several livestock breed associations who are trying to help their

members stay informed of events and other essential information as well as inform the public of

their specific breed traits. Briggs (1949) defined a breed as “a group of animals that, as a result of

breeding and selection, have certain distinguishable characteristics” (p.52). Briggs (1949) further

defined a purebred animal as “an individual both of whose parents are both registered in a

Registry Association” (p.52).

Compared to other livestock, cattle associations are more widely spread and more

focused on individual breed traits and characteristics. According to the National Association

Animal Breeders (2014), there are currently 19 cattle breed associations in the U.S. Most of these

registered breed associations also have junior breed associations that were created to help

promote the breed while developing youth members’ life skills and knowledge of the breed.

According to the North American Limousin Junior Association (2017), their purpose is to

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“develop knowledgeable, motivated beef industry leaders, while promoting the Limousin breed

through fellowship, leadership and education” (para. 1). Junior livestock programs allow youth

to gain lifelong skills through the programs and events they offer to members. Research has

shown that youth who raise and exhibit livestock gain life skills such as improved problem

solving and decision-making as well as enhanced people skills (Rusk, et al., 2003). These youth

members are the future of our world and the agricultural industry; therefore, it is important to

instill these skills in them.

Very little, if any, research has been conducted over livestock breed associations and

their efforts in communicating with their members and the public, particularly in regard to their

junior breed associations. While many of these associations have social media sites targeted at

their members, no research has been done to explore their use of these tools. Research has shown

that using effective social media in youth-related organizations creates positive youth

development (Lee, & Horsley, 2017). Understanding how these organizations engage with their

audiences through social media, and Facebook in particular, can provide a better insight into

understanding how they communicate with their target audiences. This study will explore the

content posted by junior cattle breed associations on their Facebook pages and their engagement

with followers in an attempt to better understand how they communicate.

Theoretical Framework

Grunig and Hunt (1984) developed the four models of public relations: press

agentry/publicity, public information, two-way asymmetric communications, and two-way

symmetric communications (as described in Table 1). According to Grunig and Hunt (1984), the

two-way communications model is the most effective for encouraging dialogue and

understanding between audiences and organizations. Two-way, symmetric communication

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creates a mutual, beneficial, and growing relationship, and allows for understanding the

audiences’ wishes and communicating the organizations’ objectives based on the their wants,

creating a mutually beneficial form of communication (Grunig, 1990; Grunig & Hunt, 1984).

Lovejoy and Saxton (2012) discuss how social media provides an opportunity to use this type of

two-way communication because it offers a unique opportunity for open dialogue and

interactivity with audiences and organizations in an online setting.

Table 1

Four models of public relations (Grunig, 1990).


One-Way Communication Models Two-Way Communication Models
Press
Agentry/Publicity Public Information Asymmetric Symmetric
§   Persuasive §   Straightforward §   Persuasive §   Mutually
communication §   Relatively communication beneficial
§   From organization objective §   Provides research §   Provides research
to its publics information to support but not §   Manages conflict
§   No research or change and improves
feedback organizational relationships with
§   Positive publicity behavior stakeholders

The Excellence Theory is based off of Grunig and Hunt’s (1984) two-way

communications model and explains how an organization can be effective by behaving in ways

that solve problems and achieve goals of the organization’s stakeholders and management

(Grunig, n.d.). According to the Excellence Theory, effective communication between an

organization and its publics is based on a relationship-building two-way model (Grunig &

Grunig, 2008). In this theory, an organization’s best practice is to develop transformative

relationships with their publics by engaging in symmetrical and two-way interactions

(Macnamarea & Zerfass, 2012). Grunig suggests that the value of public relations efforts to

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organizations is positive, long-term relationships that encourage supportive behavior (Edman,

2010).

Social media allow organizations to successfully achieve two-way communications with

their audience. In relation with the Excellence Theory, social media develop and maintain a two-

way relationship by providing a means of steady conversation between users and organizations

(Ramandahan, Mendez, & Viswanath, 2013). Two-way conversations must take place for

successful information to be shared. This involves a two-way discussion, which can be achieved

through a social medium such as Facebook. Because youth and young adult are still the primary

users of Facebook, this is two-way communication is even more important to understand for

youth organizations.

Purpose and Research Objectives

This study sought to determine how junior cattle breed associations were using their

Facebook pages to create a two-way communication channel with their audience, particularly in

the time period surrounding their junior national shows. The purpose of this research was to

explore the social media activity of these associations on Facebook by examining their Facebook

activity. Specifically, this research explored the content posted by each association, how their

followers engaged with that content, and how the associations responded and engaged with them

in return. The following research questions guided this study:

RQ1: How many reactions (like, love, haha, wow, sad, or angry), comments, and shares

are found on the posts made by junior cattle breed associations on Facebook?

RQ2: What types of content are posted by junior cattle breed associations on their

Facebook pages?

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RQ3: What types of Facebook posts made by junior cattle breed associations received the

most engagement from followers?

RQ4: How do junior cattle breed associations engage with their audiences through their

Facebook pages (i.e. replying or reacting to comments from followers on their posts)?

Methodology

To answer the research questions, a quantitative content analysis was used to analyze the

Facebook pages. According to Berelson (1952), a widely used definition of a content analysis is

a “research technique for the objective, systematic and quantitative description of the manifest

content of communication” (as cited by Macnamara, 2005, p. 2). Berelson (1952) suggested five

main purposes of a content analysis: describe substance characteristics of message content,

describe form characteristics of message content, make inferences to producers of content, make

inferences to audiences of content, and predict the effects of content on audiences (as cited by

Macnamara, 2005). For this study, the researchers sought to describe and make inferences of the

Facebook posts on junior cattle breed associations.

Data was collected on the five most followed junior cattle breed association on Facebook.

This was determined by analyzing how many followers the Facebook page had as of June 30,

2017. Table 2 describes the five most followed association pages. Although these numbers do

not represent the overall size of each association or breed, the number of likes shows the

popularity of each junior association on Facebook.

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Table 2

The Five Most Followed Junior Cattle Breed Associations on Facebook


Facebook page name Number of page likes
National Junior Angus Association 10,141
National Junior Hereford Association 8,795
American Junior Simmental Association 5,695
American Junior Brahman Association 3,714
American Junior Shorthorn Association 3,449
Note: As of June 30, 2017.

The largest event for each breed association each year is their weeklong junior national

show that takes place every summer in either June or July in various locations around the U.S.

Surrounding these shows, communicating to their target audience is a major focus of these

associations. Therefore, data collected for this study focused on the two weeks prior to the

respected breed association’s show and the week of the show itself as this represents the busiest

time of the year for these groups.

All data were collected and coded by the primary researcher, and a researcher-developed

codebook was utilized for the study to aid in data collection. After the codebook was developed,

the researcher went through each of the five Facebook pages to code each post made during the

set time frame for that page. For research question one, a collection of engagement

characteristics were analyzed which included reactions, comments, and shares of each post

during the data collection period. For the second research question, the type of content posted

during the three week time period was coded using the presence of post characteristics, which

included posts containing text, graphics, a graphic album, videos, hyperlinks, a live stream video,

and any combination of these content characteristics. The third research question was explored

by analyzing the reactions, comments, and shares of each type of post. For the fourth research

question, the engagement of the association was explored including their responses to comments

on posts, reactions to comments from followers, and sharing of content from followers.

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Data were organized in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and then imported into IBM SPSS

v.22.0 for data analysis. Descriptive statistics including frequency counts, means, minimums,

maximums, and standard deviations were run on the data as a means of analysis.

Findings

Research Question 1

Research question one sought to determine how many reactions (like, love, haha, wow,

sad, or angry), comments, and shares were found on the posts of the five most followed junior

cattle breed associations’ Facebook pages during the three weeks surrounding their junior

national show.

From the five Facebook pages during this time period, a total of 325 posts were found

with 21,550 total reactions (like, love, haha, wow, sad, or angry), 861 total comments, and 1,995

total shares. The National Junior Angus Association page had the most posts (n = 89, 27%),

followed by the American Junior Brahman Association page (n = 83, 26%), the American Junior

Simmental Association page (n = 60, 19%), the American Shorthorn Association page (n = 52,

16%), and the National Junior Hereford Association page (n = 41, 13%).

In terms of reactions (like, love, haha, wow, sad, or angry) received on the posts made by

each association, the Angus association received the largest number of reactions with a total of

11, 796 (M = 132.24). The Hereford association received the lowest number of reactions with

5,182 (M = 126.39); however, their mean number of reactions was the second highest behind

Angus. These two associations also received the largest maximum number of reactions for one

single post with the Angus receiving 437 reactions on one single post and Hereford receiving

426 reactions on one single post. Table 3 provides a detailed breakdown of the total reactions

(like, love, haha, wow, sad, or angry) received by each association to their posts.

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Table 3

Descriptive Statistics of Facebook Post Reactions (like, love, haha, wow, sad, or angry) (N =
325)
Association Total Total M Min. Max. SD
Facebook Number of
Posts Reactions
Angus 89 11,796 132.24 9 437 98.81
Brahman 83 1,695 20.42 0 76 14.93
Simmental 60 1,711 28.52 1 149 33.35
Shorthorn 52 1,166 22.42 2 83 19.05
Hereford 41 5,182 126.39 17 426 95.99
Note: Posts analyzed represent the two weeks prior to the association’s show and the week of the
show.

When looking at the number of comments received, the Angus association again received

the larger number of total comments with 373 (M = 4.19) as well as the largest mean number of

comments (M = 20.42). The largest numbers of comments received on one single post was from

the Simmental association with 126. Table 4 provides the descriptive statistics of the total

comments received by each association on their Facebook posts.

Table 4

Descriptive Statistics Of Facebook Post Comments (N = 325)


Association Total Total M Min. Max. SD
Facebook Number of
Posts Comments
Angus 89 373 4.19 0 25 5.79
Brahman 83 78 0.94 0 7 1.69
Simmental 60 229 3.82 0 126 16.31
Shorthorn 52 65 1.25 0 16 2.60
Hereford 41 116 2.83 0 19 4.27
Note: Posts analyzed represent the two weeks prior to the association’s show and the week of the
show.

The Angus association received the largest number of shares of their posts with 1,101

total post shares (M = 12.37). Although the Hereford association received the lowest number of

shares of their posts with 41 total post shares, they had the highest mean number of post shares

(M = 12.39). For one single post, the Angus association received the largest number of shares

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with 165. Table 5 provides details of the descriptive statistics of total post shares received by

each association’s Facebook posts.

Table 5
Descriptive Statistics Of Facebook Post Shares (N = 325)
Association Total Total M Min. Max. SD
Facebook Number of
Posts Shares
Angus 89 1,101 12.37 0 165 24.84
Brahman 83 176 2.12 0 20 4.12
Simmental 60 148 2.47 0 17 3.98
Shorthorn 52 62 1.19 0 12 2.84
Hereford 41 508 12.39 0 81 19.62
Note: Posts analyzed represent the two weeks prior to the association’s show and the week of the
show.

Research Question 2

The second research question sought to determine what types of content were posted on

each junior cattle breed associations’ Facebook pages. From these five Facebook pages, 325 total

posts were found in the three-week period analyzed.

When analyzing each association individually, the National Junior Angus Association

posted 89 posts over the three-week time period. The majority of their posts (n = 88, 99%) were

created by the association with only one (1.12%) post shared from another source. The American

Junior Brahman Association had 83 posts, with the majority (n = 70, 84.34%) created by the

association and 13 posts (15.67%) shared from other sources. The American Junior Simmental

Association had 60 posts in the three-week time period. The majority of their posts (n = 58,

96.67%) were created by the association with two (3.34%) shared from other sources. The

American Shorthorn Association had 52 posts, a majority of which (n = 48, 92.31%) were

created by the association, and the remaining posts (n = 4, 7.69%) were shared from other

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sources. The National Junior Hereford Association had 41 posts during this time, of which 39

(95.12%) were created by the association and two (4.88%) were shared from other sources.

To further analyze the posts made by each association, the types of content found in each

post were also analyzed. Of the 325 total posts, the most common type of posts found included

text and a graphic (n = 129, 39.69%), followed by posts that contained text only (n = 50,

15.38%), and posts that contained a livestream video and text (n = 37, 11.38%). Table 6 provides

a detailed analysis of the types of contents found in the posts each association made during the

data collection period.

Table 6

Content found in Facebook Posts Made by Each Association (N = 325)


Post Content n Angus Brahman Simmental Shorthorn Hereford
Text & graphic 129 54 29 7 26 13
Text only 50 2 4 28 15 2
Livestream video & text 37 9 20 8 0 0
Text & video 31 5 21 0 2 3
Graphic album & text 22 11 1 9 0 6
Text, graphic & link 21 6 1 6 0 8
Text & link 7 1 1 1 4 0
Text, graphic album &
link 5 0 0 0 0 5
Livestream video 4 1 3 0 0 0
Graphic only 3 0 0 0 1 2
Video only 2 0 0 0 0 1
Graphic album 2 0 0 0 2 0
Link only 1 0 0 1 1 0
Text & shared event 1 0 0 0 1 0
Shared own text only 1 0 1 0 0 0
Shared own text &
added text 1 0 1 0 0 0
Shared own video &
added text 1 0 1 0 0 0
Text, video & link 1 0 0 0 0 1

Research Question 3

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Research question three sought to determine which of the 18 different types of content

found in the Facebook posts used by these junior breed associations evoked the most engagement

from followers in the form of reactions, comments, and shares from followers. As shown in

Table 7, posts that included a graphic album and text (n = 22) received the largest mean number

of reactions (M = 112.95). Posts that contained both a livestream video and text (n = 37) received

the largest mean number of comments (M = 6.41). Posts that contained a video only (n = 2)

received the largest mean number of post shares (M = 26.5).

Table 7

Descriptive Statistics of Post Types for all Facebook Pages (N = 325)


Reactions Comments Shares
Post Type n Total M Total M Total M
Text & graphic 129 10,170 78.84 300 2.32 611 4.74
Text only 50 669 13.38 96 1.92 63 1.26
Livestream video & text 37 1,868 50.49 237 6.41 153 4.14
Text & video 31 2,366 76.32 94 3.03 585 18.87
Graphic album & text 22 2,485 112.95 31 1.41 47 2.14
Text, graphic & link 21 1,213 57.76 44 2.10 281 13.38
Text & link 7 123 17.57 13 1.86 18 2.57
Text, graphic album &
link 5 1,017 23.4 16 3.20 21 4.20
Livestream video 4 139 34.75 4 1 5 1.25
Graphic only 3 203 67.67 1 .34 0 0
Video only 2 131 65.5 3 1.5 53 26.5
Graphic album 2 32 16 4 2 0 0
Link only 1 32 32 0 0 1 1
Text & shared event 1 66 66 6 6 0 0
Shared own text only 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Shared own text &
added text 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Shared own video &
added text 1 23 23 0 0 0 0
Text, video & link 1 23 23 4 4 23 23

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Research Question 4

Research question four sought to determine how each association engaged with their

audiences through replying to post comments and/or reacting to comments from followers on

their posts. The Brahman association reacted (like, love, haha, sad, or angry) a total of 10 times

(M = .12) to comments from followers, which was the most of any association. This was

followed by eight reactions (M = .09) made by the Angus association. The other three

associations had low numbers of reactions to follower comments (see table 8). The Angus

association was the most responsive with comments back on follower comments with a total of

18 responses (M = .20) during the data collection period. The other four associations made fewer

comments back to follower comments (see table 8).

Table 8

Descriptive Statistics of Association Reactions and Comments in Response to


Comments from Followers (N = 325)
Number of reactions Number of comments
made by association made by association
Association n Total M Total M
Angus 89 8 .09 18 .20
Brahman 83 10 .12 1 .01
Simmental 60 1 .02 3 .05
Shorthorn 52 1 .02 4 .08
Hereford 41 2 .05 1 .02

Conclusions and Recommendations

This content analysis sought to examine the social media activity of five junior cattle

breed associations’ Facebook pages surrounding their junior national shows. Of the five pages

examined, the association with the largest number of page likes, the National Junior Angus

Association (n =10,141), not only had the largest number of posts (n = 89) during the three-week

period surrounding their junior national show, but also had the greatest number and mean of

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reactions to their posts (n = 11,796, M = 132.24) more than doubling the next closest association

in total reactions. They also had the largest number of total comments on posts on their page (n =

373). The association made posts mostly containing either text and a graphic, text and a graphic

album, or text and a livestream video. The Angus association page stood out to the researchers in

terms of their engagement rates because of their high level of activity and the types of posts

made during the data collection period.

The American Junior Brahman Association page, with 3,714 total page likes, had the next

highest number of posts (n = 83). The content most often posted by the association included

posts that contained text and a graphic, text and a video, or text and a livestream video.

The American Junior Simmental Association page, which had 5,695 page likes,

performed in the middle in all three engagement characteristics, means of reactions, shares and

comments. The three most common posts made by the association contained text only, text and a

graphic album, and text and a livestream video. The American Shorthorn Association page,

which had 3,449 page likes, received low means in relation to the other associations on

engagement rates. Specifically, they had the lowest total number and mean number of shares

received. The most common posts made by the association contained text and a graphic, text

only, or text and a link. Both of these associations had several posts that contained text only,

which may have had an influence on their low engagement rates from followers.

Finally, the National Junior Hereford Association page, which had 8,795 total page likes,

had the lowest number of post activity during the data collection period, yet received the second

largest number of total reactions and second largest mean of reactions of all the associations.

They also had the largest mean number of post shares. The most common posts made by the

association included text and a graphic; text, a graphic, and a link; or text and a graphic album.

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Although the Hereford association was the least active in terms of posts made to their Facebook

page during the three-week time period, they were very successful in engaging their followers

with their post content. This could be related to the amount of graphics that the association

posted to their page.

It is important to note that while the Hereford association had less than half the amount of

total posts than the Angus association, they still performed similarly in terms of engagement

rates. This could be a result of many factors, including the similar page likes received by both

associations and the similar types of content that were posted. The high number of posts that

contained graphics and graphic albums posted by each of these associations seemed to engage

followers more than other types of content posted.

Leander (2011) explains that reactions, comments, and shares on Facebook pages

measure engagement rate. Overall, the most common type of posts made by all five associations

included both text and graphic content. These posts received a large mean of reactions,

comments, and shares, which indicates that followers of these associations connected well with

this type of content. The second most commonly seen type of post among all associations include

text only content. These posts received a much lower number of reactions, comments, and shares

compared to posts that also contained a visual of some sort. This indicates that followers of these

associations were not as engaged by content that did not contain a visual element. Another type

of post  commonly found within each of the five associations included text along with a

livestream video, which received a large number of means for reactions, comments, and shares.

It is not surprising to the researchers that the posts with graphics and videos performed better

than text only posts. Bortree and Seltzer (2009) stated that organizations should post photos of

events and videos to stimulate discussion, which this research supports.

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Within all five associations, the type of posts that received the largest mean of reactions

contained text and a graphic album, which continues to support the research that says audience

engage more with visual content (Abitbol & Lee, 2017). The posts with the largest mean of

comments included content that contained text and a livestream video, this also supports research

that says graphic and video content increase discussion on posts. The type of posts with the

largest mean of shares included only video content. Posts that contained some type of graphic,

video, or graphic album showed higher engagement rates than those that did not. This supports

the research from Bortree and Seltzer (2009) who stated that photos and videos stimulate

engagement and discussion among social media users. Most associations were successful in

posting photos and videos to increase their engagement; however, the Simmental and Shorthorn

associations, who posted many text only posts, did not have quite as much engagement from

followers.

Finally, this research sought to understand if and how the associations were using two-

way communication on their Facebook pages by commenting and reacting to audiences’

comments. The Excellence Theory explains an organization’s best practice is to develop

transformative relationships with their publics by engaging in symmetrical and two-way

interactions (Macnamarea & Zerfass, 2012). All five of the associations reacted and commented

back to comments made on their post at least once. The Brahman association made the largest

number of reactions to follower comments, while the Angus association made the largest number

of responses back to follower comments. Research has found higher engagement is seen to social

media posts when organizations respond to comments from followers (King et al., 2016). Both of

these associations focused on establishing the two-way engagement as recommended by Grunig

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and Hunt (1984) to build relationships and trust with their followers, and the engagement they

received on their pages shows how this communication can be successful.

By junior breed associations successfully using Facebook as a communications outlet,

they are capable of building stronger relationships with their audiences and potentially increasing

the popularity of their organization. As discussed, engaging audiences through social media

outlets helps organizations achieve their goals (Hodis, et al., 2015). For junior breed associations,

successfully using social media is a way to reach their goals of developing beef industry leaders

while ultimately promoting their specific breeds (North American Limousin Foundation, n.d.).

Overall, by understanding what makes each Facebook page a success, these organizations can

improve their communications to help achieve their goals.

Many recommendations for practice can be made in light of this study. The researchers

recommend junior cattle breed associations increase their discussion and engagement on their

Facebook pages in order to continue to build relationships with their audience. They should also

create post that contain more videos or livestream videos as followers tend to be highly engaged

by this type of content, while also continuing to make posts that contain graphics since these

posts performed well also. While each association did participate in two-way communication in

some form, it is recommended that a stronger effort in communication be made from the

associations to their audiences to increase Facebook page engagement and build stronger

relationships with their audiences as this will allow them to have a more successful medium of

communication.

In terms of future research, the researchers recommend that in addition to looking at the

type of posts and post content created by breed associations, future research should also explore

their communicative functions and particularly those that involve more of their audiences to

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increase engagement. Future research should also analyze each comment made on the different

types of post and include an analysis of the sentiment of each comment to better understand the

responses these posts received. Research on a larger variety of junior cattle breed associations,

as well as other species or livestock associations would help determine a broader understanding

of how to increase Facebook engagement overall in the industry. Further, to understand these

associations better as a whole, it is recommended that a content analysis be done within a longer

timeframe, perhaps an entire year, of posts instead of three busy weeks for the associations.

Overall, it was found that posts with graphics and videos performed well in engagement

rates with followers. The Angus and Hereford associations were more engaged with their

followers compared to the other three associations and should be looked at as examples to others.

Building relationships is important for any organization, and social media is one way to engage

younger audiences, just as these five cattle associations are striving to do through their Facebook

pages.

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