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Looking for friends and followers: a global investigation of governmental social media use

Agnes Mainka (Department of Information Science, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany)
Sarah Hartmann (Department of Information Science, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany)
Wolfgang G. Stock (Department of Information Science, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany)
Isabella Peters (Web Science Department, ZBW, CAU, Kiel, Germany)

Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy

ISSN: 1750-6166

Article publication date: 18 May 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify governmental social media use in cities with enhanced information and communications technology infrastructures (i.e. Informational World Cities) and high Internet penetration rates. Social media platforms are increasingly being used by governments to foster user interaction and it was investigated if social media platforms are valuable tools for reaching high numbers of citizens.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper is based on an iterative content and Web analysis from November 2012 till January 2013 and offers a comparison of different social media service types and the particular use.

Findings

This empirical investigation of 31 Informational World Cities provides an overview of social media services used for governmental purposes, of their popularity among governments and of their usage intensity in broadcasting information online. Even as cities in a globalized world become more similar, a variety in the use of social media by governments was detected, which is due to regional and cultural characteristics.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are limited to calculable data, e.g. number of used social media accounts, posts and followers which were available through a content and Web analysis at the time of investigation.

Practical implications

A more detailed content analysis, as well as a more differentiated analysis of users, must be conducted in the future.

Originality/value

This paper is one of the first that presents a global comparison of governmental social media use of cities of the knowledge society and compares different social media platforms.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Paul Becker for checking spelling and grammar of our text. The authors would like to thank Dr Chang Kaiser for her support in analyzing the Chinese Web sites. Agnes Mainka is supported by the Strategischer Forschungsfonds of the Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf.

Two preliminary versions of this paper were published (Mainka et al., 2014; Hartmann et al., 2013).

Citation

Mainka, A., Hartmann, S., Stock, W.G. and Peters, I. (2015), "Looking for friends and followers: a global investigation of governmental social media use", Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 237-254. https://doi.org/10.1108/TG-09-2014-0041

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited