Social Media in State Governments: Preliminary Results About the Use of Facebook and Twitter in Mexico

Social Media in State Governments: Preliminary Results About the Use of Facebook and Twitter in Mexico

Rodrigo Sandoval-Almazan (Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México, Mexico) and J. Ramon Gil-Garcia (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas, Mexico)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4090-0.ch006
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More than other information technology, social media has the potential to improve communication, participation, and collaboration between governments and citizens. The widespread use of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and blogs among citizens has forced government officials to use these technologies to reach citizens, interact with them, and legitimate policies and public decisions. Despite this great potential and the relevance of social media in today’s society, there is still a relatively limited number of empirical studies that attempt to understand how governments are using these tools, particularly at the state and local levels. The main objective of this research is to understand how state governments are using Web 2.0 technologies and to provide some conceptual elements for future research in this area. Based on a longitudinal review of the 32 state Websites in Mexico and a more in-depth analysis of two cases, this chapter provides preliminary results on how state governments are using two of the most well known social media tools: Facebook and Twitter. The chapter highlights some differences and similarities among state governments. It also provides some initial ideas about how to develop a more comprehensive strategy for using social media tools and applications in state governments.
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Public administrations are increasingly using Web 2.0 tools. Research by Griffiths (2007) assesses the government intranet called Oxygen. After interviewing managers and performing several online observations, he concludes that this kind of tool would be useful for the development of professional behaviors and attitudes. More recent research presents several results from the implementation of social media at different government levels. Blaser, Weinberger and Trippi (2009) connect the use of campaign funds and subsequent votes to the use of digital government tools. The consultancy firm DemoNet specializes in Web 2.0 tools, primarily focusing on services that underpin network building, technological development, and Web-based technologies; some of the projects under their research umbrella are the following: 1) social network tools such as Facebook and Twitter, which are being used to discuss political issues and how candidates foster e-participation; 2) the use of virtual worlds to promote online participation; and 3) location-based services mainly used by mobile devices (e.g., and collaborative writing tools such as wikis and Google Docs. Their reports conclude that citizens are aware of and use these kinds of tools on a daily basis and governments must develop strategies to promote the use of Web 2.0 tools (Rose, 2009). These studies present initial evidence about the actual use of social media technologies in government.

Facebook is one of the most famous social platforms in the world. As of 2012, it reaches one billion users around the planet, and it presents a very consistent growth over time. The number of messages posted in the walls are two billion every day and about 250 million photos are uploaded daily (Parr, 2011). Despite the increasing importance of this platform, scientific research about this tool is scarce and more studies are needed. Currently, there are a few interesting examples of academic research focusing on Facebook, but almost none of them are related to government. For instance, Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe (2007) highlight the advantages of developing friends using Facebook. Kerpen (2011) shows the potential of the use of “likes” to promote brands and friends and Bumgarner (2007) analyses the impact on students. Similarly, Oboler (2008) identifies the problems and limitations of a jewish group in Facebook, which is a very interesting case. Using students as subjects, Raynes-Goldie (2010) analyses privacy issues among Facebook members and proposes the concept of social privacy in opposition to institutional privacy to differentiate the normal rules of privacy from a new set of rules on the Facebook world. In fact, Danah, Boyd & Hargittai (2010) provide similar results in terms of privacy, based on empirical data of students about 18 to 19 years old surveyed during 2009 and 2010.

On the other hand, Koroleva, Brecht, Goebel & Malinova (2011) propose a model to understand Facebook user behavior among teenagers. Phillips(2011) attempts to understand grief and other feelings expressed in Facebook. Studies from McAndrew & Jeong (2012) about gender and age as predictors of Facebook use are important to understand specific user behavior and new trends of interactions within this social media tool. Some current studies help to clarify some motivational goals, self-disclosure and privacy concerns using the platform (Whitney & Li-Barber, 2012). Finally, there are very few studies about the use of Facebook in government settings. For instance, Magnusson, Bellström, & Thoren (2012) analyze the dialogue and information exchanges between citizens and public officials. Peter & Sunil (2012) explore the barriers of public sector information release and provide some lessons about this novel practice using different platforms such as social media.

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