Beef Communication within the Digital Pasture: Tools that Impact Consumer Perceptions
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Increasingly, people obtain information from social media (SM) instead of peer-reviewed scientific and factual sources. As a result, a knowledge gap has been created between average citizens, consumers, and the animal agricultural community, particularly the beef industry. A majority of consumers rely on SM to gain information about the agricultural industry, and due to directed misinformation there is confusion and a lack of trust between consumers and farmers. Consumers’ most notable concerns about the beef industry are welfare, diet/health, and environment. Through the use of videos and SM as communication platforms, perhaps the perceptions of consumers can be shifted. To test this hypothesis, invitations to complete IRB-approved surveys were sent to a diverse cross-section of Auburn University students. Surveys were completed prior to and after viewing videos or simulated social media posts uniquely designed to have either emotional or cognitive messaging characteristics. Paired t-test analysis (SPSS) results revealed that videos as well as emotional SM posts were effective (p < .05) in influencing opinions of study participants for each of the three arenas of concern. Compared to cognitive messaging, emotional video and social media posts used as communication modalities may serve to diminish the knowledge gap relationship between the general public and the beef industry.