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Title:Use of and information seeking behaviors on Facebook among Illinois farmers and farm families
Author(s):Carter, Jarai J
Director of Research:Rodriguez, Lulu
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Rodriguez, Lulu
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Turk, Matthew; Hudson, Matthew; Moose, Stephen
Department / Program:Graduate College Programs
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):information seeking behavior
unified theory of acceptance and use of technology
CMIS, comprehensive model of information seeking
uses and gratifications
social media
social networking sites
technology adoption
technology acceptance
mass communication
online communication
survey analysis
content analysis
Abstract:To what extent are farmers in Illinois using the social networking platform Facebook and for what purpose? Do they use it to seek information related to farming? If so, what types of farming-related information are they looking for? This study aims to examine farmers’ acceptance, use of, and information seeking behaviors as they engage with others through Facebook. This study makes use of the modified propositions of the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model to determine farmers’ acceptance and use of Facebook. To ascertain information seeking behaviors, the tenets of the Comprehensive Model of Information Seeking (CMIS) was applied. The precepts of the Uses and Gratifications Theory (U&G) were used to determine the gratifications they sought and obtained through Facebook. This study applied a mixed methods approach to gather and analyze data. First, a survey of Illinois County Farm Bureau members and followers, as well as Illinois County Extension members and followers, was conducted to gauge acceptance and use, information seeking behaviors, and gratifications sought and obtained on Facebook. Survey data were analyzed using the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) test, principal component analysis (PCA), Cronbach’s alpha, and multiple linear regression tests. Second, a content analysis of texts on public and group Facebook pages identified by survey respondents was conducted to understand the types of information users seek. Two undergraduate students were recruited to “scrape” text from the pages and perform coding. Qualitative coding was performed by placing mined text into one of eleven pre-determined domains based on the topic spread in the public and group pages. The coding language R, its library tidytext, and its dependencies were used to process, analyze, and visualize the texts. Regression results indicate that those who are more accepting of the technology, those who see Facebook as a rich medium of communication, and those who have significant personal relationships online have a higher propensity to use this social media platform. Those with little experience with it are likely to eschew Facebook use. These results provide evidence that the UTAUT items the present study added to the original proposition—perceived media richness and perceived personal network—enhanced the usability and validity of the model. Examining information seeking patterns through a content analysis of public and group Facebook pages showed that animals, finance, and crops were the major domains about which information were sought by Facebook users. Important sub-areas within these domains also were identified. Beliefs and channel characteristics contributed positively to the perceived channel utility of Facebook among the respondents. Salience had a negative effect on perceived utility as respondents’ increased need for information went in tandem with a certain level of skepticism about Facebook’s ability to provide that information. Statistical analyses uncovered positive and strong relationships between gratifications sought and gratifications obtained items. Results suggest that the farming population seek and obtain gratifications from Facebook beyond those that are related to strictly figuring out how to solve problems in the farming enterprise. Many studies have previously examined people’s motivations for using different information technologies. This study contributes to the theoretical and methodological base by testing the applicability of the modified UTAUT and CMIS models in determining acceptance and use of Facebook in the agriculture domain. The findings are expected to assist policy makers, communication practitioners, and knowledge managers in developing strategies and policies that aim to expand farmers’ engagement in local and national dialogues about topics and issues that affect their livelihood, their communities, and the agriculture industry.
Issue Date:2019-07-03
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Jarai J. Carter
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-11-26
Date Deposited:2019-08

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