This article explores the determinants of local governments' use of social networking sites. It does so by analysing the relative impact of institutional, political and social determinants, while controlling for the impact of mayors' traits and social characteristics of municipalities on local governments levels of activity on Facebook. Empirically, this article presents a within-case analysis of Portuguese municipalities' activity on social media, aiming to shed light on the strategic use of social media by local governments. A coherent picture associated with politically pro-active local governments emerges from the results: higher levels of social media activity appear in municipalities with more competitive local elections and higher commitment to transparency. Moreover, findings suggest that local governments tend to be concerned with the low levels of voter turnout, potentially resorting to social media as a powerful tool to increase civic engagement and (offline) political participation. Levels of Facebook activity are significantly higher in larger and wealthier municipalities. The results indicate that Facebook official pages of municipalities are part of a larger arsenal of tools to promote political engagement and activity levels signal a propensity to involve citizens pro-actively.
The good, the bad and the ugly: Three faces of social media usage by local governments
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