Analysis of Twitter messaging in public crisis situations

Thumbnail Image
Van Horn, Melanie
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication
The Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication offers two majors: Advertising (instructing students in applied communication for work in business or industry), and Journalism and Mass Communication (instructing students in various aspects of news and information organizing, writing, editing, and presentation on various topics and in various platforms). The Department of Agricultural Journalism was formed in 1905 in the Division of Agriculture. In 1925 its name was changed to the Department of Technical Journalism. In 1969 its name changed to the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications; from 1969 to 1989 the department was directed by all four colleges, and in 1989 was placed under the direction of the College of Sciences and Humanities (later College of Liberal Arts and Sciences). In 1998 its name was changed to the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.
Journal Issue
Is Version Of
As social media becomes more widely used by public figures and private individuals, it has evolved as a tool to communicate critical information during crisis situations. This research compares the usage of Twitter by public authority figures like mayors, police departments and official city accounts during the Boston Marathon bombing and manhunt in 2013 and during Hurricane Harvey's landfall and subsequent aftermath in 2017. By comparing these two crises, other public authority figures and officials can plan how to use social media effectively in a variety of crisis situations. Through quantitative analysis I compared the number of likes/favorites, retweets and replies and analyzed daily tweet volume during the crisis, while qualitative analysis was used to examine the type of tweet, additional media, hashtags, and message coding. The data revealed that public authority figures tweet greater amounts of rational and informational content to the public during crisis situations than emotional content. These authorities also created higher percentages of original tweets and replies rather than retweeting information from other sources. The research also indicated an overall increase in additional media being included with the text of the tweets between 2013 and 2017. Further research should analyze situational factors impacting tweet content.