My colleagues and I will present a paper and a poster at CSCW 2013 in San Antonio in February. Both submissions are based on data we collected from Twitter around politicians and their use of social media.
What’s Congress Doing on Twitter? (paper)
With Jahna Otterbacher and Matt Shapiro, this paper reports our first summary stats about who’s using Twitter and what they’re accomplishing. Using data from 380 members of Congress’ Twitter activity during the winter of 2012, we found that officials frequently use Twitter to advertise their political positions and to provide information but rarely to request political action from their constituents or to recognize the good work of others. We highlight a number of differences in communication frequency between men and women, Senators and Representatives, Republicans and Democrats. We provide groundwork for future research examining the behavior of public officials online and testing the predictive power of officials’ social media behavior.
“I’d Have to Vote Against You”: Issue Campaigning via Twitter (poster)
With Andrew Roback, one of my great graduate students, this poster focuses on the citizen side of the Twitter conversation. Specifically, using tweets posted with #SOPA and #PIPA hashtags and directed at members of Congress, we identify six strategies constituents employ when using Twitter to lobby their elected officials. In contrast to earlier research, we found that constituents do use Twitter to try to engage their officials and not just as a “soapbox” to express their opinions.