Public responses to nonprofit social media messages: The roles of message features and cause involvement

Weiting Tao, Zongchao Cathy Li, Zifei Fay Chen, Yi Grace Ji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aims to answer the question of what makes a nonprofit social media message effective in driving favorable behavioral outcomes from publics. Toward this purpose, it draws on multidisciplinary theoretical insights from public relations literature, functional interactivity research, the Elaboration Likelihood Model, and the limited capacity model of motivated mediated message processing. It theorizes an information-processing account to predict and explain the interplay among social media message appeal (emotional versus informational appeal), functional interactivity (high versus low interactivity), and individuals’ cause involvement (high versus low involvement) on public behavioral outcomes including information sharing, information seeking, and donation intentions. Results of an online experiment revealed significant two-way interactions between message appeal and functional interactivity, between message appeal and cause involvement, and between functional interactivity and cause involvement on different behavioral outcomes. These results bring novel theoretical and practical insights on when, how, and why nonprofit social media communication can be effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102038
JournalPublic Relations Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Elaboration Likelihood Model
  • Functional interactivity
  • Involvement
  • Limited capacity model of motivated mediated message processing
  • Message appeal
  • Nonprofit public relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Marketing


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