New Report Reveals Twitter Use by Mayors From the 250 Largest U.S. Cities
“If Paul Revere had been a modern day citizen, he wouldn’t have ridden down Main Street. He would have tweeted.”
Twitter was launched in July 2006. Today, the microblogging service that features short messages or “tweets” of 140 characters or less has more than 300 million active users.
Twitter has emerged as a highly effective, low-cost communications tool in national and local elections. It has also been embraced by elected officials as a powerful means of connecting with their constituents on a daily basis.
America’s mayors and their communications teams are at the forefront of Twitter adoption in government. Twitter allows mayors the opportunity to:
• Bring constituents behind the scenes and into their daily lives.
• Break news and share emerging developments with both residents and the news media.
• Gauge public opinion by “listening” to views outside of their inner circle of advisors.
• Shift the communications model from “broadcasting to residents” to “interacting with citizens.”
Development Counsellors International (DCI), a firm specialized in marketing places, set out to identify the “Jedi Masters” among the mayors of America’s 250 largest cities. We closely tracked the Twitter activity of each mayor over a 60-day period from January 1 to February 29, 2016. Based on our analysis, “The Tweet Elite” were selected – a list of 25 current mayors who have mastered Twitter.
DCI followed a three-step selection process to determine U.S. mayors who have successfully mastered Twitter.
- The DCI team started by looking at the Mayors of the 250 largest cities in America. The landscape ranged from New York City with a population of 8.4 million to Fairfield, California and its 111,125 residents. Of this group, we determined that 186 had Twitter accounts.
- We eliminated all mayors that had less than 1,000 Twitter followers. That narrowed the field to 112 mayors.
- We then analyzed the Twitter activity of each mayor over a 60-day period from January 1 to February 29, 2016. With the help of some leading social media gurus, we developed a score sheet that included five major areas. Some areas were deemed to have greater importance (for example building an audience of followers) than other areas (influence among other mayors in the survey audience).
- Audience (30% of scoring)…Number of Twitter followers divided by the city’s population. This was designed to ensure an equal footing among mayors of differing populations.
- Frequency (20% of scoring)…Average daily number of tweets communicated by each mayor.
- Responsiveness (20% of scoring)…Average daily number of reply tweets communicated by each mayor.
- Engagement (20% of scoring)…Average retweet and likes earned on each tweet, expressed as a percentage of each mayor’s followers.
- Influence (10% of scoring)…Number of other mayors (from the 250 largest U.S. cities) that follow a mayor’s Twitter account.
Our research partners were instrumental in the design and execution of this project:
• Rival IQ, a software firm specializing in digital marketing analytics.
• Convince & Convert, a strategy consulting firm that helps companies navigate the smart intersection of technology, social media and customer service.
The Tweet Elite: 25 Mayors Who Have Mastered Twitter
Stephen K. Benjamin
Bill de Blasio
Elizabeth “Libby” Schaaf
Michael B. Hancock
Charlotte, North Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina
St. Louis, Missouri
Long Beach, California
New York, New York
Kansas City, Missouri
Elizabeth, New Jersey
St. Petersburg, Florida
Leading the Pack: The Top Five Mayors in Five Categories
AUDIENCE: Number of Twitter followers divided by the city’s population
- Kasim Reed: Atlanta, GA 26.1%
- Kevin Johnson: Sacramento, CA 18.7%
- Martin Walsh: Boston, MA 17.4%
- Stephen K. Benjamin: Columbia, SC 16.2%
- Francis Slay: St. Louis, MO 15.2%
FREQUENCY: Average daily number of tweets communicated by each mayor
- Ed Pawlowski: Allentown, PA 11.7
- Stephanie Rawlings-Blake: Baltimore, MD 10.4
- Muriel Bowser: Washington, DC 7.6
- Acquanetta Warren: Fontana, CA 6.8
- Joseph Hogsett: Indianapolis, IN 6.4
RESPONSIVENESS: Average daily number of reply tweets communicated by each mayor
- Tony Yarber: Jackson, MS 6.9
- Stephanie Rawlings-Blake: Baltimore, MD 5.8
- Ras J. Baraka: Newark, NJ 3.9
- Kasim Reed: Atlanta, GA 1.3
- Chris Bollwage: Elizabeth, NJ 1.0
ENGAGEMENT: Average percentage of retweets/likes by each mayor’s followers
- Beth Van Duyne: Irving, TX .97%
- Bao Nguyen: Garden Grove, CA .76%
- James Kenney: Philadelphia, PA .72%
- John Giles: Mesa, AZ .52%
- Nancy B. Vaughan: Greensboro, NC .48%
INFLUENCE: Number of other mayors that follow a mayor’s Twitter account (from the 250 largest U.S. cities)
- Sly James: Kansas City, MO and Kevin Johnson: Sacramento, CA 32
- Stephanie Rawlings-Blake: Baltimore, MD 29
- Eric Garcetti: Los Angeles, CA 28
- Bill de Blasio: New York, NY 27
Where Does Your Mayor Rank?
The “Tweet Elite” survey highlights U.S. mayors who are the most successful communicators on Twitter. But we also want to provide guidance and tangible feedback to other mayors and their communication teams interested in improving their performance in the future. For a brief report on where your mayor ranked in each of the five selected categories “audience,” “frequency,” “responsiveness,” “engagement” and “influence,” please contact:
Development Counsellors International
DCI Vice President, Daniella Middleton had the opportunity to sit down for an in-depth conversation with Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake, the number one mayor using Twitter, according to our report. In this twenty minute interview, Mayor Rawlings-Blake shares her Twitter insights including why being active on Twitter is important to her and tips for combating Twitter trolls.