Lamm, K. W., Rumble, J. N., Carter, H. S., & Lamm, A. J. Agricultural Opinion Leader Communication Channel Preferences: An Empirical Analysis of Participants of Agricultural and Natural Resource Leadership Development Programs. Journal of Agricultural Education, 57(1), 91-105. doi: 10.5032/jae.2016.01091
In the information rich society of the 21st century consumers have had access to many different communication channels where they can find information about agricultural topics. Individuals seek information that fulfills their needs and opinion leaders have been identified as a solution to communicating with audiences about complex topics. However, previous research has neglected to focus on the most effective means of communicating with opinion leaders. Using level of opinion leadership as a predictor of communication channel preference within a Uses and Gratifications framework a sample of 3,234 agricultural opinion leaders were surveyed. Descriptive statistics revealed that web pages and meetings are most preferred while Twitter, conference calls, and other communication channels are least preferred amongst agricultural opinion leaders. Furthermore, inferential statistics illuminated the importance of clearly defining an intended audience. Specifically, although opinion leaders are differentiated from non-opinion leaders within their networks there are additional levels of opinion leadership that may warrant consideration when selecting a communication channel.