In this study, a content analysis was conducted with posts from American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Facebook page to explore the relationship between message relevance, source characteristics, and message features with the number of likes, comments, and shares received by them. Limited Capacity Model for Motivated Mediated Message Processing (LC4MP) was used as the theoretical foundation for the study. Findings showed that cancer-related posts received more likes, comments and shares than posts that were not related to cancer. Also, posts by the American Cancer Society received more likes, comments, and shares than other source categories. Findings also indicated that though message features were related to likes, comments, and shares, the nature of relationship and the role of different features varied with each measure. Overall, findings highlight the role of motivational activation through message factors in eliciting user response in social media environments.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and according to statistics compiled by the World Health Organization (2017), around 14 million new cases are diagnosed each year worldwide, and around 8.8 million people die from various forms of cancer annually. Beyond the effects on patients, cancer also impacts family members, friends, colleagues, etc., many of whom use digital communication technologies to seek social support and information to help better understand the disease, its effects, and how to cope. These technologies include smartphone apps (Pandey et al., 2013), internet search engines (De Choudhury et al., 2014), and social media platforms such as Facebook (Nabi et al., 2013). The versatile nature of the internet carries great promise for platforms for information dissemination, promotion, and communication that are accessible, cost-effective, and efficient. Social media in particular has become an important part of a growing number of individuals’ daily lives (Boyd and Ellison, 2007). Applying the Uses and Gratifications perspective, Baek et al. (2011) found motivations for using Facebook include informationsharing, convenient communication and entertainment, passing time, communicating with people with similar interests and backgrounds, indicating wants and needs to others, and promoting organizations and people. Research has shown people affected by cancer utilize social media in order to satisfy differing goals in context of the disease (Cavallo et al., 2014; Bender et al., 2011). In the context of health communication environments, this implies the potential of platforms such as Facebook to create digital spaces that may bring together various stakeholders such as organizations, experts, governments, and patients. Many individual users utilize social media such as Facebook for interpersonal communication for health-related purposes (Moorhead et al., 2013; Grajales et al., 2014).