Emotional Images in Charitable Appeals on Facebook; Effects of Using Different Emotional Images in Appeals on Sharing and Donation Intention
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Fundraising on social media is growing, but limited research exists on the effectiveness of different donation appeals on these platforms. Further research is warranted as the effectiveness of campaigns on social media is expected to be influenced by elements such as peer-to-peer sharing, aiding in the distribution and reach of the campaigns. This study aims to extend the literature on donation appeals on social media focusing on the effect of one component of the donation appeals: the use of emotional images. Emotional images are noted in research to be able to affect charitable giving, however findings are inconsistent, and effects are not studied in connection to sharing of appeals on social media. The specific purpose of this study is to determine if different emotional images used in donation requests on Facebook affect firstly the intention to “share” the donation request post, and secondly donation through the post. The study also looks at possible barriers and motivators to sharing, including evaluations of suitability on the platform. This study compares the effects of three different donation request posts varying in their use of emotional images on subsequent behaviours. A mixed-method is used: Preparatory qualitative interviews are used to select comparable images varying in elicited emotion, resulting in three images with (1) intensely negative, (2) mildly negative and (3) positive emotion. A quantitative web survey and subsequent statistical analysis are used to look at the effects of specific emotions in images on sharing and donation intention and evaluations of suitability within the conditions, and to compare the response to the different donation request posts varying in their use of emotional images. Research findings support presumptions of emotions felt in response to images in charitable appeals affecting the intention to share and donate for posts using negative images. However, little correlation was found in the post using positive images indicating other motivators. Comparing the conditions do however indicate sharing to be more likely for posts with more positive, or less negative, images. A possible explanation explored is evaluations of the suitability of the posts on Facebook. Findings support the presumption that more intensely negative posts are considered less suitable on Facebook, and evaluations of suitability are found to affect sharing of the appeals using negative images. As such, the use of extreme negative images can be a barrier to sharing. No significant difference was found between the likelihood to donate between the three posts.