Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Professional Communication

Committee Chair/Advisor

Hilligoss, Susan

Committee Member

Ding , Huiling

Committee Member

Morey , Sean


Businesses and organizations are increasingly using online communities to extend brand loyalty from the real world to the virtual world of consumers and other key stakeholders. However, the return on investment for launching an online community can only be realized when appropriate audiences are attracted and interact. This two-phase research study explores a recently launched online community representing a rural hospital in South Carolina. This thesis includes a literature review, in-depth description of the methodology I used, results of a survey and textual analysis of a Facebook page, and a discussion of best practices and future suggestions. I hope that this thesis can prove useful in current and future discussions of the power of social media public relations and marketing, particularly for non-profit organizations.

Included in

Communication Commons



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