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The use of Facebook in the recruitment of foster carers: a dialogic analysis

Stringfellow, Rachel and Keegan, Brendan and Rowley, Jenny (2019) The use of Facebook in the recruitment of foster carers: a dialogic analysis. Journal of Public Affairs. ISSN 1472-3891

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Abstract

Social media is becoming increasingly important for communication and community building, yet research on the use of social media by non-profit organisations is limited and largely restricted to content analysis of social media comments. This article contributes to addressing this research gap, through a survey-based study of the perspectives of key informants in UK Local Authority fostering teams on their use of social media. Specifically, it examines the extent to which the Facebook activity of local authority fostering teams is aligned with the principles of successful social media engagement, as represented by dialogic strategies and outcomes. A questionnaire on the use of Facebook was circulated to all local authority fostering teams in England. Findings suggest that whilst there is progress, many teams are at an early stage in their social media journey, and that there is considerable variation between agencies. The limited evidence of engagement in relation to dialogic principles suggests that there is some adoption of a strategic approach. In particular, of the three dialogic principles associated with successful online engagement, two (updating and community building) were applied by about half of local authority fostering teams and the third (engagement) by just over a quarter.

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