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Tuesday, December 1 • 11:15am - 11:45am
Using Facebook to Reach New Audiences

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Throughout the world, people are increasingly using social media to learn about new ideas, connect with others, and get informed about current events. Facebook is the largest social media platform available (King, 2015). Opportunities exist for Cooperative Extension to use this platform for a variety of purposes. Program Development centers can extend their reach by offering resources to Extension professionals on a popular social media platform. The following research was conducted to explore audience interaction with a social media page for the UF/IFAS Program Development and Evaluation Center (PDEC). 

This research explored the various interactions of individuals with a program development-themed social media page. This research addressed the following questions: 
1. What are the effects of organic audience growth? 
2. What content attracts the most interaction? 

The information used in this research was obtained through the UF/IFAS Program Development and Evaluation Center Facebook page. Facebook’s online page feature, Insights, was used in order to better assess audience scope and content successes. This feature allows page administrators to view audience reach and content engagement through likes and reach. The total posts analyzed for this study was N = 113, all posted between February 2015-July 2015, although the number of followers continues to increase each week. 

Posts were analyzed for total reach and engagement. Posts with over 70 post reaches as well as engagement of over 5 people were analyzed. Post content was categorized into broad themes. Audience reach was analyzed for Page likes. 

Objective 1
Upon analyzing the audience reach, 16 different states were identified within the audience. The states included: Florida, Montana, Connecticut, Missouri, Texas, Georgia, Maryland, Indiana, Tennessee, California, Arkansas, New Jersey, Minnesota, Virginia, Ohio, and Oklahoma. Further analysis of the audience reach revealed a total of five countries represented: United States, Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, and Costa Rica. 

Objective 2
Posts with the highest engagement featured state Extension faculty sharing successful county programs. These posts were viewed and shared more than other posts. They featured a paragraph review of the programs as well as high quality images reflecting the programs. 

Posts featuring links to articles highlighting ways to balance work and life had high rates of engagement. Articles in these posts were focused on tips to manage workload as well as creating boundaries between work and home. 
The third most popular type of posts featured practical ways to overcome barriers when using social media in Extension. They covered various ways to use social media to market programs to diverse audiences, including creating visual images communicating information about programs. 

Recommendations and Implications
There are vast opportunities to use Facebook as a way to provide resources to Extension professionals. Program development content is of interest to audiences beyond one state or country. Posts featuring images and content relating to Extension faculty increases engagement on Facebook pages. The most popular content applies to current and common issues. 

King, H. (2015, July 29). Facebook is now the world’s most-used tech product. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/29/technology/facebook-earnings/index.html?sr=fbmoney072915facebook745story

avatar for Amy Harder

Amy Harder

University of Florida
avatar for Priscilla Zelaya

Priscilla Zelaya

University of Florida

Tuesday December 1, 2015 11:15am - 11:45am
Tango B

Attendees (2)