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Government Communication On The Social Web


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Euprera Spring Symposium 2010, Ghent

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Government Communication On The Social Web

  1. 1. Government Communication on the Social Web An Experimental Study Exploring the Use of Interactive and Participative Elements Daniel Heine, M. A. Euprera Spring Symposium  Ghent  2010 1 / Daniel Heine
  2. 2. Introduction 2 / Daniel Heine
  3. 3. Agenda _ Theoretical Basis & Research Question _ Method _ Results _ Discussion 3 / Daniel Heine
  4. 4. Theoretical Basis & Research Question 4 / Daniel Heine
  5. 5. Social Web – From “Bypass“ to “Main Artery“? Has the Social Web the potential to improve government communication in a way that it is no longer used exclusively as a “bypass” to get around mainstream media? 5 / Daniel Heine
  6. 6. Background Output side of the political process _ Neglected perspective (in contrast to election campaigns) _ Focus on functions a government has to fulfill: policy implementation (Blum & Schubert 2009) Communication is essential to put political decisions into effect _ Citizens ought to act according laws (generally binding decisions) – but often they cannot or should not be forced _ Communicative persuasion is necessary Communication is framed by specific social circumstances _ Network Society (Castells 2006; Van Dijk 2006) _ Mediatisation (Krotz 2007) 6 / Daniel Heine
  7. 7. Research Question _ Is the Social Web more effective than other, “established” communication tools? 7 / Daniel Heine
  8. 8. Method 8 / Daniel Heine
  9. 9. Experimental Research Setting Object _ Examining a causal link between the use of a communication tool as an instrument of government communication and the achieved effects Basic idea _ Simulating the communication process occurring in the context of policy implementation using different communication tools under constant circumstances 9 / Daniel Heine
  10. 10. Independent Variable: Social Web Use Social Web _ Interactive and participative elements in online communication settings (Welker & Zerfaß 2008 p. 12) Four levels of Social Web use 1. Neither participative nor interactive: no Social Web (control group) 2. participative and interactive: Simple Social Web a. based on text: Simple Social Web/Comment (experiment group I) b. based on video: Simple Social Web/Video (experiment group II) 3. participative and interactive based on both text and video allowing to recount relatedness of earlier messages : Complex Social Web (experiment group III) „Lurking“ as dominant using practice _ Only six percent off all onliners are writing blogs, adding comments or videos (Busemann & Gscheidle 2009: 357) _ Analyzes of passive use (reception) of Social Web 10 / Daniel Heine
  11. 11. Dependent Variable: Communication Effect Outflow Value creation DPRG/ICV framework for Outcome Impact on strategic and/or communication controlling financial targets Direct Indirect (Value chain) Outcome Outcome Impact on tangible Perception Opinion and/or intangible Utilization Attitude resources Level of Emotion (Capital impact Output Knowlegde accumulation) Behavioral disposition Internal Output External Output Behavior Process efficiency Coverage Quality Content Input Reputation index Sales Measu- Ressources Brand image No. of project rement Employee Budget Awareness Strategic agreements range assignment compliance Unique visitors awareness of Cost reduction Clippings Financial Failure rate Session length employees Visits Reputation capital Reader per issue Indica- Expenses Readability Downloads Purchase intention Brand value tors Personnel costs Satisfaction of Impact ratio Recall Leads Employee Outsourcing costs internal clients Share of voice Recognition Innovative ideas knowledge (e.g.) … … … … … … Mea- sured ORGANIZATION MEDIA/CHANNELS STAKEHOLDERS ORGANIZATION object Initiation of communication processes Communication processes Results of communication processes low impact on value creation high impact on value creation strong influence of communication management weak influence of communication management 11 / Daniel Heine © DPRG German Public Relations Association & ICV International Controller Association 2009
  12. 12. Treatment: Fake Law “Konsumkostenentlastungsprogramm” – “Consumption Discharge Act” _ Saxon federal state law _ Refund of VAT payments for private spendings in shops in Saxony in July 2009 _ Application as condition sine qua non _ Other regulations, descriptions, etc. according to real wording _ Sophisticated internal construction – understanding all the regulations is not trivial _ Issue and political intent refer to the surrounding situation of economic crisis (e.g. in Germany Abwrackprämie, Wachstumsbeschleunigungsgesetz) 12 / Daniel Heine
  13. 13. Treatment: Fake Government Website Control Group _ No Social Web _ Neither opportunities to participate nor to interact (no relations between messages because there is only one sender: the government) _ Represents „traditional“ tools of online (government) communication 13 / Daniel Heine
  14. 14. 14 / Daniel Heine
  15. 15. Treatment: Fake Government Website Experiment Group I _ Simple Social Web/Comment _ Opportunity to participate in communication sequences by adding a comment _ No differentiation between sender and recipient _ Relations between messages from different senders _ Represents the communication style of weblogs 15 / Daniel Heine
  16. 16. 16 / Daniel Heine
  17. 17. Treatment: Fake Government Website Experiment Group II _ Simple Social Web/Video _ Opportunity to participate in communication sequences by adding a video comment _ No differentiation between sender and recipient _ Relations between messages from different senders _ Representing the communication style of video blogs 17 / Daniel Heine
  18. 18. 18 / Daniel Heine
  19. 19. Treatment: Fake Government Website Experiment Group III _ Complex Social Web _ Opportunity to participate in communication sequences by adding both videos and text comments _ Relations between messages taking into account the relatedness of earlier messages _ Represents the communication practiced at Social Web Platforms like Youtube 19 / Daniel Heine
  20. 20. 20 / Daniel Heine
  21. 21. Research Participants and Sampling Procedure Sampling procedure _ Particular choice of typical cases: Persons with different use of Social Web and political interest _ Setting up „statistical twins“ _ Random matching to one version of the website Location an time _ Check-in-area of Leipzig/Halle Airport _ 23., 24. June 2009 Measurement methods _ Survey (questionnaire) _ Observation (did anyone take an application form?) 21 / Daniel Heine
  22. 22. Analysis Steps _ Calculation of indices for every measurement range _ Aggregation of the separate indices to one index describing the global communication effect (PICO) _ Bi- and multivariate analysis on different levels of data aggregation considering other independent/intervening variables: _ Analysis of variances _ Rank correlation Limitations _ Statistical analysis yielded no significant effect _ Probably because of the low number of participants (Diekmann 2009 p. 714).  Interpretation is limited 22 / Daniel Heine
  23. 23. Results 23 / Daniel Heine
  24. 24. Socio Demographic Structure _ All in all 68 research participants _ According to this 17 research participants each experiment group _ 59,7 % male, 40,3 % female _ Average age: 38 years _ Different professions, use of internet and Social Web, political interest 24 / Daniel Heine
  25. 25. Social Web Improves Communication Effects _ Lowest communication effect in control group (no Social Web use) _ Complex Social Web (comments and videos) shows best effects in affective measurement ranges where it even beats forms of moderate Social Web use (in contrast to the global level) 25 / Daniel Heine
  26. 26. Influence of Intervening Variables Use of Social Web _ Declining communication effect caused by Social Web use when there is a lack of routine in handling Social Web applications and platforms Political interest _ Communication effect improvement is higher with research participants with less political interest Involvement _ Communication effect improvement is higher with research participants with high involvement 26 / Daniel Heine
  27. 27. Discussion 27 / Daniel Heine
  28. 28. Discussion Social Web has the potential to be more than a “bypass” _ Empirical reasons to suppose that Social Web use as an instrument of government communication has positive influence on the communication effects _ Using relatively simple patterns of participation and interaction is usually the most suitable way to communicate political decisions _ Complex forms of Social Web should be used when the focus lies on persuasion (changing emotions, opinions, attitudes, behavior) All these effects do not conform to any automatism _ Practice in using Social Web leads to greater increase of the communication effect caused by Social Web use _ Less political interest leads to greater increase of the communication effect caused by Social Web use _ Higher involvement of a person in a policy leads to greater increase of the communication effect caused by Social Web use 28 / Daniel Heine
  29. 29. Thank You For Your Attention Daniel Heine M. A. Communication Management | B. A. Media Management University of Leipzig | City of Dresden 29 / Daniel Heine
  30. 30. References _ Bieber, C. (2006). Zwischen Grundversorgung und Bypass-Operation. Von der Idee zur Praxis digitaler Regierungskommunikation. In Kamps, K. & Nieland, J.-U. (Eds.): Regieren und Kommunikation. Meinungsbildung, Entscheidungsfindung und gouvernementales Kommunikationsmanagement – Trends, Vergleiche, Perspektiven (pp. 239-260). _ Blum, S. & Schubert, K. (2009): Politikfeldanalyse. _ Busemann, K./Gscheidle, C. (2009). Web 2.0: Communitys bei jungen Nutzern beliebt. Ergebnisse der ARD/ZDF-Onlinestudie 2009. In Media Perspektiven, No. 7, S. 356–364. URL:, last access 12.09.2009. _ Castells, M. (2006). The Network Society: From Knowledge to Policy. In Castells, M. (Ed.): The network society. From knowledge to policy (pp. 3–21). 30 / Daniel Heine
  31. 31. References _ Diekmann, A. (2009). Empirische Sozialforschung. Grundlagen, Methoden, Anwendungen. _ Krotz, F. (2007). Mediatisierung. Fallstudien zum Wandel von Kommunikation. _ Rafaeli, S. & Sudweeks, F. (1997). Networked Interactivity. In Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, Vol 2, No. 4, URL: bin/fulltext/120837708/HTMLSTARTW, last acsess 12.09.2009. _ Welker, M. & Zerfaß, A. (2008). Einleitung: Social Web in Journalismus, Politik und Wirtschaft. In Zerfaß, A., Welker, M. & Schmidt, J. (Eds.). Kommunikation, Partizipation und Wirkungen im Social Web. Strategien und Anwendungen. Perspektiven für Wirtschaft, Politik und Publizistik. Volume 2 (pp. 12-18). 31 / Daniel Heine