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Improving citizens’ online engagement via community managers: an explanatory study

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The role of community manager is gaining importance as the proper usage of social media becomes a key factor for achieving more active involvement of citizens in social and political issues. Focused on Spanish local governments and in line with the literature of Excellence Theory, this paper aims to analyze whether some characteristics of the community manager function are determinant in their fostering of citizens’ online engagement via social media. In particular ‘independence’, ‘having access to the dominant coalition’, ‘gender diversity’, ‘continuous training’ and ‘culture of the organization’ are the characteristics considered in this paper. As to the main findings, this study confirms that community managers have not as yet achieved their goal of embedding the use of social media by citizens as a means of establishing more direct contact with their local governments. Moreover, in line with Excellence Theory, community managers of local governments should be aware of the importance of having direct access to key managers of the organization in order to better achieve the objectives of the organization and, more specifically, to increase citizens’ engagement. Furthermore, continuous training in issues related to social media truly helps develop the skills and potential of community managers. Likewise, an excellent communication department should rely on good professionals no matter their gender, and, in this sense, the gender of community managers is not a significant factor in their performance. However, the results of this study also reveal that in the case of public sector community managers, an authoritarian culture seems to be a determining factor for obtaining better results in enhancing citizens’ engagement.
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Keywords: Facebook; Twitter; public sector; social networking sites; two-way communication

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Economy and Business Department, University of Almería, Almería, Spain

Publication date: October 3, 2018

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