Matt Lewis is a government and tech geek who wants to help leverage technology to make the public sphere more open and efficient. He has spent much of his fellowship year working with the federal government on a Veteran specific career platform, in addition to working with the City of Philadelphia to build tools that make civic engagement easier for busy citizens. Matt has a wide array of experience in politics, business, and technology. He's worked as a marketing analyst for a digital ad agency in San Francisco, helped craft grassroots organizing strategies for the Newsom for Progress campaign, and has worked as an equity analyst for a boutique financial analysis firm. Matt graduated from Claremont McKenna College in 2009 with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE)

Filed Under

Governments on Twitter: It’s Not Just About Followers


Last month, our Chief Geek Dan Melton blogged about the link top ten twittering local governments, based on the amount of followers on each account. While there were some surprises in the top 10 (notably @okcountysheriff ranking 10th nationally for most followed municipal feed), bigger cities and counties tended to gather more followers, with smaller ‘burbs showing smaller followership.

Building up a large following on Twitter is obviously useful in any effort to spread municipal information: the more followers, the more eyeballs on your message, whether that message is an urgent crime alert, or a reminder about an upcoming farmers market.

But effective social media use isn’t only about the size of the audience. In this post, we’re going to try to dig deeper into our data to show some examples of cities, counties, and local agencies that we’ve found that are leaders in categories of social media impact beyond just followers.

Most sway: @phoenixpolice

Sway is measured by the number of retweets in, divided by the number of tweets out. A city or county with a score of 1 would mean that on average, every single tweet by that government is retweeted once.

With a sway ratio of 7.07, the phoenix police twitter is among the most re-tweeted public account out there. So while the Phoenix Police’s tweets are only followed by 3,348 followers, the large number of re-tweets that they are getting means that their effective reach is much greater.

Most followers per capita: @sausalitopolice

806 twitter users follow the Sausalito Police department’s tweets, which puts their account nowhere close to the the top of our list. But with only 7,330 people in this scenic Bay Area town, their tweets are reaching more than 10% of the population. Compare this percentage New York: while @311NYC has the most followers overall, even if we only count Manhattan (all 1,580,000 of them), those tweets are only going direct to around 0.8% of the population.

The Most Interesting (American Municipal) Twitter Account (in the World): @minneapolissnow

How interesting are local governments on Twitter? One way of trying to figure out interestingness comes from Infochimp, which assigns a score based on the number of mentions divided by the tweets out from an account.

Based on this metric, the winner is clearly the Minneapolis Snow Emergency (@minneapolissnow) handle, with interest ratio of 21.39. This goes to show that social media can be a great venue for governments trying to provide up-to-date information to citizens, especially citizens who might be stuck under feet of Minnesota snow.

Honorable Mention for Tweet Volume: @citizensconnect

Tweeting constantly isn’t always a great way to connect with other people. But with CitizensConnect (@citizensconnect), a Boston effort to crowdsource local problems using Twitter and mobile apps, you can’t blame any one person: each of the 7,636 tweets to date represents a report from the community. And with an interest ratio of 10.0 (the second highest we’ve found), all of that chatter seems to be gaining interest from the community.

← Back To All Articles