In this empirical study, researchers examined how Chinese central government agencies used social media to promote citizen engagement during the COVID-19 crises.
In times of crises, citizens care more about content than imagery, but social media posts with images encourage more citizen engagement. Using a dialogic loop (e.g., hashtags, posed questions) to interact with the public allows government agencies to demonstrate their concern for public interests, ideas, and suggestions, which then allows the public to feel valued and recognized. This sense of belonging to government agencies and their social media communities provides important motivation for continued engagement. Additionally, government agencies should use artificial intelligence and cloud computing technologies to analyze public demand during different stages of crisis to modify their messaging to meet public information needs.