A quantitative examination of municipal governments’ success in using Facebook to increase public participation in community development decisions
Public participation has come to be viewed as an essential element in establishing municipal policy and planning objectives. Civic administrations continually search for the magic combination of online and in-person engagement strategies that will increase public involvement.
Social media, specifically Facebook, has been viewed as a panacea for widening the demographic and increasing participation in the community development process. Research has provided evidence of the potential for social media to increase public engagement. However, there is a deficiency of quantitative data on whether municipal Facebook pages have actually achieved this.
A survey will be distributed to a specific cohort in a professional municipal communicator association who have established Facebook pages for their communities. Questions will focus on the initiatives/reasons for setting up a Facebook page and whether it a) increased the number of residents participating in civic decision-making and b) widened the demographic of participants. Qualitative date will be gathered through semi-structured interviews with a sample group taken from the survey respondents and with members from associated departments for whom a Facebook presence was created. The results will help to inform municipalities on best practices for online engagement tools.