Presentation on theme: "Tweet That Town! How to Turn the Twitter Lackluster in Local Government into Vibrant Online Community Building Dr. Marcus Messner Virginia."— Presentation transcript:
Tweet That Town! How to Turn the Twitter Lackluster in Local Government into Vibrant Online Community Building Dr. Marcus Messner Virginia Commonwealth University Corey Byers Culpeper County Sheriff's Office Presentation at Virginia Government Communicators Fall Conference 2010
Agenda Why Twitter? Study 1: Twitter and media Study 2: Twitter and governments Strategies
Why Twitter? Survey of undergraduate 182 students at VCU (2010)
See complete data at
The audience uses it ALL media use it Why Twitter?
Study 1: Twitter and Media Online social networks and social bookmarking allow traditional news media to increase Web traffic ◦Promote news content (hyperlinks) ◦Breaking news ◦Build community Goal of study was to explore the adoption rate of Twitter by traditional news media in the US
Study 1: Twitter and Media Social bookmarking ◦Sample: Top 100 newspapers and top 100 TV stations in the United States ◦March 25-26, 2009 Twitter use ◦Analysis of 180 newspapers and TV stations with Twitter accounts ◦April 4-5, 2009 ◦Analysis of tweets
Study 1: Twitter and Media How have traditional news media adopted social bookmarking for Twitter? ◦199 news outlets Rocky Mountain News ceased publication ◦36.7% (n=73) offer social bookmarking for Twitter ◦91% (n=181) have Twitter account Ø 6993 followers
Study 1: Twitter and Media Is there a difference among traditional news media in their use of social bookmarking? ◦Twitter accounts 90.9% (n=90) of newspapers 91.0% (n=91) of TV stations ◦Followers (Ø 6993 followers) 9.0% (n=18) 0 followers 26.1% (n=52) followers 26.6% (n=53) followers 19.6% (n=39) followers 16.6% (n=33) ,000 followers 2.0% (n=4) more than 10,000 followers ◦ CNN 677,325; NYT 411,820
Study 1: Twitter and Media How are traditional news media using Twitter? ◦180 news outlets have accounts ◦Only 65.6% (n=118) of the news outlets tweeted on the days of analysis 1568 tweets Ø 8.7 daily tweets per news outlet
Study 1: Twitter and Media How are traditional news media using Twitter? ◦94.3% (n=1478) of tweets were news related, 5.7% (n=90) were personal ◦93% of tweets (n=1458) had hyperlinks 98.5% (n=1438) internal links Is there a difference among traditional media in their use of Twitter? ◦Tweets (n=1029) by newspapers (Ø 10.4) (n=539) by TV stations (Ø 5.4)
Study 1: Twitter and Media Traditional news media do not use Twitter to its full potential ◦Mainly used as a promotional tool Extensive internal linking ◦Little online community building ◦Few followers on average Newspapers are much more active than TV stations
Local Governments and Twitter
Study 2: Twitter and Governments Local government websites were defined as the official website for a county, city or town in the Commonwealth of Virginia (self-governing at the local level) For this research project 95 counties, 39 cities and 55 towns were included for a total of 189 localities across the Commonwealth Google was used to find the official website for each locality
Study 2: Twitter and Governments The main page for each locality’s website was examined to find a hyperlink to a Twitter feed. ◦Examples: ◦In addition, the researchers looked at whether such a link existed on a “Contact Us” or “Media” page on the website. ◦Twitter was also searched to determine whether or not an official account existed for the locality. ◦Authenticity was determined by whether or not the Twitter account had a hyperlink back to the website.
Study 2: Twitter and Governments The search was conducted on July 31 and Aug. 1, 2010 The following information was documented for each Twitter account: ◦Number of followers ◦Number of “tweets” for the five previous business days ◦Type of “tweet”: events, employment opportunities, emergency notifications, hyperlinks to news articles, links to other websites and “other.” A total of 32 localities in Virginia had registered Twitter accounts for the local government.
Study 2: Twitter and Governments Only 17 percent of localities in Virginia are using Twitter. Counties had more accounts that cities and towns combined: 17 counties, 11 cities, 4 towns Only 23 localities out of the 32 posted a noticeable link or hyperlink on the main page of the website to the Twitter.com account. Only 1 locality posted a hyperlink to a Twitter account on a “contact us” or “social media” page. Cities: 28% Counties: 18% Towns: 7%
Study 2: Twitter and Governments How popular are the Twitter accounts? Only 5 accounts in the state had more than 1,000 followers 11 accounts had between 100 and 999 followers The rest had fewer than 100 followers How often do officials tweet? The average number of tweets for a locality was 6 per week. The number of tweets for an account for a week ranged from 0 to 38.
Study 2: Twitter and Governments What did localities use Twitter accounts for? Most tweets fell in the “other” category and included: Traffic updates, Public meeting updates, General information about the locality Interactions with other Twitter users. Tweets also included: Event notices Links to other websites Public safety or law enforcement notifications
Study 2: Twitter and Governments Other notes on Twitter research… Counties were more likely to have a hyperlink to their Twitter account on the main web page Counties had the most tweets during the two-day period Tweets from one county in Virginia made up more than 10% of the total tweets by local governments for the week that was studied Tuesday, July 27, 2010 had the most tweets posted How can my locality use and promote Twitter?
Strategies Make your presence known Not all localities posted a link to a Twitter account on the main page of their official websites. Part of cultivating Twitter accounts as an information source is letting people know that this service is available. ◦HINT: Go to the website for free Twitter icons that you can use on your website as a visual hyperlink to the account.www.iconspedia.com ◦Twitter users expect organizations to post a link to accounts and will look for a logo or hyperlink.
Strategies Make your locality’s Twitter account official Link back to your locality’s official website from the Twitter account Use an official logo for your locality or department Remember: This is part of your branding.
Strategies Set guidelines for the account WHO: Determine who is the best person to manage the Twitter account (and other social media accounts). It may be a PIO, an elected official, an appointed official or someone else. WHAT: Decide ahead of time what types of messages will be published. ◦HINT: Stick to information that is public information. If you would not release it to the press, then don’t publish it on Twitter. Or, if you plan on releasing the information to the press, you could “break the news” on Twitter first. ◦Do not treat this account as a personal account. This account represents the county government and should not be used by a staff member for personal reasons. Remember, everyone on the Internet can see what is posted.
Strategies What can Twitter be used for? What is it already used for…. Traffic updates Weather updates, including school or government office closings. Emergency notifications Law enforcement notices County-wide events / fundraisers Live meeting updates Posting press releases Promoting services by linking back into the locality website Communicating with residents Job postings / internship opportunities
Strategies How to be successful with Twitter: Determine your goals and investment Quality over quantity Develop a message Engage Measure the outcome Adjust
Questions and Discussion Dr. Marcus Messner Virginia Commonwealth University Corey Byers Culpeper County Sheriff's Office Presentation at Virginia Government Communicators Fall Conference 2010