Linguistic analysis of municipal twitter feeds: Factors influencing frequency and engagement

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Engaging citizens through social media provides municipal governments with the potential for improvement in public trust as well as greater opportunities for accountability, transparency, and participation. The strategies chosen by a municipality must consider not only what is communicated through social media channels, but the language used to convey the message. This study explores the relationship between linguistic factors and (a) the level of citizen engagement, and (b) the frequency of tweets on municipal Twitter accounts. Using textual analysis software, this study examines the linguistic style of Twitter feeds for the 100 most populous cities in the United States. The results suggest municipal accounts with higher tweet frequencies are more likely to use a present-tense, informal, and cognitively complex style with more feminine, health-related, and third-party references. Accounts with higher levels of citizen engagement were more likely to include references to anxiety, anger, and religion, positive and negative emotions, group affiliation, and personal motivations. The results also suggest an increased volume of Twitter activity has an inverse effect on engagement. This study contributes to the existing literature by providing an examination of the linguistic styles of active municipal Twitter communication and an analysis of how linguistic style predicts engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101468
JournalGovernment Information Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Law


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