What Makes Local Governments' Online Communications Successful? Insights from a Multi-Method Analysis of Facebook

Hofmann Sara, Beverungen Daniel, Räckers Michael, Becker Jörg


Abstract
Little is known about how public sector organisations capitalise on the potential of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) as communication channels. Previous research is short on theoretical models and managerial insights into the success of local governments' online communication strategies. The purpose of this study is to explore how successfully local governments utilise SNSs for managing their external communication with citizens. Using a multi-method analysis of 15,941 posts and 19,290 comments on the Facebook pages of the 25 largest German cities, we make five contributions to research and practice. First, we analyse the properties and topics of government posts to draw a rich picture of how local governments use Facebook as a communications channel. Second, we conceptualise success in governments' online communications in terms of the frequency and polarity of citizens' reactions, which we use for third, evaluating government communication behaviour in SNSs. Fourth, we identify which benefits SNSs offer that traditional communication channels do not provide. Fifth, we offer guidelines for improving the online communication strategies of local governments using SNSs.

Keywords
social networks; Facebook; government; communication; sentiment analysis



Publication type
Article in Journal

Peer reviewed
Yes

Publication status
Published

Year
2013

Journal
Government Information Quarterly

Volume
30

Issue
4

Pages range
387–396

Language
English

DOI