Solving Cities

Social media use increases rapidly in U.S. city halls

Posting in Cities

Big cities in the U.S. are embracing social media at a high rate.

The use of social media in city halls across the United States is growing rapidly, according to a new study on the online presence of city governments.

Facebook usage by governments in the 75 largest cities in the U.S. increased six times when comparing a similar study in 2009 to use in 2011. The use of YouTube and Twitter increased four times and three times, respectively, during that time.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, examines websites and social media of the local governments and ranked cities on factors that include online civic engagement, transparency, and accessibility.

Here's the top five local governments according to the study:

1. New York City

1. (tie) Seattle

3. Virginia Beach

4. Portland, Ore.

5. San Francisco

Here are some more interesting facts from the study:

  • Facebook and Twitter were used by 87 percent of the cities (up from 13 percent and 25 percent in 2009, respectively).
  • YouTube links were found on 75 percent of city websites.
  • 12 of the 75 cities have open data portals.

While social media is becoming a larger part of city hall, there are still plenty of questions of how effective it can be.

"The change in social media adoption is remarkable – increasing from two to five times over the levels observed two years ago," the study said. "At the same time, however, there is much more to be learned about how local governments are using technology. To what extent are discussions actually occurring online? What is the content of the discussions, and what influence do they have on policy?"

Read the complete study here.

Image: Facebook page of the City of New York

[Via Science Daily]

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure