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Factors influencing tweet purposes and citizen engagement with municipal Twitter accounts

Jeffrey A. Stone (IST, Penn State University, Center Valley, Pennsylvania, USA)
S. Hakan Can (Public Affairs, Penn State University, Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania, USA)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 24 December 2020

Issue publication date: 10 May 2021




The purpose of this paper is to determine the demographic, resource and internal competition factors that influence both the level of citizen engagement provided by municipal Twitter accounts as well as the primary purposes for which those accounts are used.


This research uses a mixed-methods approach. Twitter data were content analyzed and categorized according to their specific purposes (information dissemination, community building or calls to action). Twitter engagement was measured as an index variable constructed from prior research, and multiple regression was used to determine the factors which best predict both account engagement and tweet purposes.


The results show that two factors (a multiplatform approach and fiscal health) along with the interaction of those factors predict the level of Twitter-based citizen engagement. Median citizen age was found to significantly predict the percentage of municipal tweets with purposes of information dissemination and community building.


This study adds to the literature on public sector social media use by examining the purposes and practices of local government Twitter use, providing a context for examining how Twitter is employed by local governments for citizen engagement.



Funding: This research was funded through a Research Collaboration Fellowship grant from the Penn State University Institute for Computational and Data Sciences.


Stone, J.A. and Can, S.H. (2021), "Factors influencing tweet purposes and citizen engagement with municipal Twitter accounts", Online Information Review, Vol. 45 No. 3, pp. 501-516.



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Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

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