The Influence of Social Media Content Framing on Audience Perceptions of the Wild Horse and Burro Controversy.
Keywords:social media, framing, wild horse and burro, agricultural communications
The central research question that guided this study was: how does the framing of written content on Facebook influence public perception of information regarding the management of wild horses and burros? This research was conducted using content analysis to examine 136 Facebook posts of six organizations communicating about the wild horse and burro controversy and 8,295 comments made by individuals to the organization’s posts. There were eight major themes that emerged from the data, organized by the interaction of three frames: organization frame, audience frame, and organization-audience interaction frame. Organization frame themes included: organization positionality and its influence on framing posts for emotional appeal and audience action, and organization post style, post frequency, and response frequency and its influence on audience reception of the issued. Audience frame themes included: action-oriented responses, emotional responses, government responses, and management-related responses. Organizationaudience interaction frame themes included: the influence of organization comments on audience’s perception of the issue, and misinformation concerns.. These themes provide insight into how organizations and individuals are communicating about the wild horse and burro controversy using social media and illuminate opportunities for further research into social media communications to positively impact agricultural literacy. Recommendations for practice include: supplying necessary information to social media instead of relying on the audience to click links, keeping the perceived-cost and investment of requested audience participation low to encourage activism, and strategic planning regarding the frequency and types of post to maximize audience engagement.