Standing In a Crowded Room Shouting At No One: How The Government of Alberta Uses Twitter to Engage Albertans

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  • Purpose – This paper explores Government of Alberta attempts to engage citizens using Twitter in 2018, and how successful any attempts at engagement were.
    Design/methodology/approach – Mixed-methods content analysis using @YourAlberta as a case study; quantitative analysis of 1,339 tweets guided by DePaula et al.’s (2018) typology, followed by a qualitative analysis of successfully engaging tweets (n=238), and analysis of the 5 most successful tweets in comparison to best practices.
    Findings – Consistent with other government social media research, @YourAlberta tweets were primarily one-way. 18% of tweets were attempts at engagement. Of those, 76% were considered successful, though overall engagement was low. @YourAlberta generally follows best practices when attempting engagement via Twitter.
    Research limitations/implications – The findings are limited to the @YourAlberta account. The study did not analyze the total reach of @YourAlberta tweets. The study also used a limited definition of engagement. Future research could analyze other social media channels, and further explore what government engagement through social media looks like.
    Practical implications – The findings suggest considering changes to the Government of Alberta’s social media engagement approach to better align with its Communications Policy; specifically, abandon the desire to manage participation, and take a more social perspective to social media.
    Originality/value – There is a scarcity of published research on Government of Alberta social media practices. This paper may inform future research on government social media communications, as well as discussion between Government of Alberta communicators regarding future social media strategies.
    Keywords – Government, Twitter, Alberta, engagement, social media, communications, participation, democracy, typology

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International