Communicating with Constituents in 140 Characters or Less: Twitter and the Diffusion of Technology Innovation in the United States Congress
Christine B. Williams
April 23, 2010
This paper affords an opportunity to study the early adoption, implementation and performance of an emerging technology by analyzing which members of Congress have been early adopters and extensive users of Twitter, and which have attracted the most followers. Our research questions and measures draw from the diffusion of innovation literature and early studies of online politics. Three multivariate analyses reveal that two motivators of adoption, party (Republican) and campaign resources are also drivers leading to extensive usage, but the other two, an urban constituency and the member’s own age do not. Instead, a large vote share in the last election joins party and funding in explaining high usage. The latter two plus high influential power differentiate between members with large and small numbers of followers. Collectively, these findings suggest that at this early developmental stage, Twitter is not a game changer, but an additional communications medium. They also underscore the contribution of diffusion of innovation literature to understanding how these interrelationships change depending upon whether we are examining adoption, implementation or performance.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: Twitter, social media, diffusion of innovation, U.S. Congress, constituency communication
JEL Classification: 030
Date posted: June 22, 2010
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