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Squawking, tweeting, cooing, and hooting: analyzing the communication patterns of government agencies on Twitter


Richard D. Waters, 201 Winston Hall, Campus Box 8104, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8104, USA.



Twitter is rapidly gaining attention from strategic communicators for its ability to enhance communication campaigns. Whether using the site to augment word-of-mouth marketing campaigns or engage in conversations with stakeholders, Twitter has become the leading online social media outlet for marketing and public relations efforts. However, despite the service's ability to provide a forum for interacting with stakeholders, the site primarily began as a way for its users to provide one-way updates and disseminate information. By using the models of public relations as its framework, this study examines how government agencies are using Twitter to communicate with their audiences through content analysis of 1800 updates from 60 government agencies. Contrary to public affairs practitioners' claims of interactivity on Twitter, government agencies primarily relied on one-way communication that sought to inform and educate rather than two-way symmetrical conversations. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.