This paper explores the role of local government Facebook pages in citizen engagement by focusing on two councils in Aotearoa New Zealand, the Dunedin City Council (DCC) and the Otago Regional Council (ORC). We investigate how these councils use their Facebook pages to communicate government matters with citizens, and how citizens engage with the councils using the pages. Examination of Facebook posts by the two councils from January to December 2019 reveals that citizens were ‘informed’ of various council-identified issues through the use of ‘passive’ posts. There were relatively scant ‘active’ posts, which hold greater potential for meaningful engagement. It is apparent that both councils are more managerial and less consultative and participatory in their approach to social media use for citizen engagement. We recommend that local governments can enhance the level of engagement by exploring ways to increase their page followers, using a combination of both active and passive posts frequently, increasing and experimenting with types of active posts, and adopting te reo Māori and minority languages to ensure an inclusive virtual environment. This study offers new insights for both local governments and social media researchers to rethink how to best utilise Facebook pages for effective e-participation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Sociology and Political Science
- Urban Studies
- Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management