Understanding government social media communication strategies and public engagement during the COVID-19 crisis in Lebanon

Hussein Bajouk 1 2, Carme Ferré-Pavia 1 *
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1 Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona, SPAIN
2 Lebanese International University, Beirut, LEBANON
* Corresponding Author
Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 14, Issue 2, Article No: e202417. https://doi.org/10.30935/ojcmt/14337
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ABSTRACT

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted governments to adopt various online communication strategies, including the use of social media platforms. Drawing on the crisis and emergency risk communication model, this study investigates the Facebook communication strategies employed by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) during the COVID-19 crisis in Lebanon and examines the public engagement with these efforts. A content analysis was conducted on 2,001 posts related to COVID-19 from January 2020 to June 2021. The posts were classified into categories and the frequency and median were used to measure government posting activity and engagement. The study analyzed additional post features such as hashtags, mentions, captions, and language to provide further context to the findings. Trend analysis was also conducted to examine how the metrics varied with key events. The results show that MoPH predominantly used photos (72.00%) and the majority of its posts were published during the initial phase of the outbreak (74.20%). The most prevalent categories of posts were uncertainty reduction (54.57%), self-efficacy (30.33%), and vaccines and immunization (16.89%). MoPH’s Facebook page witnessed a surge in followers during the post-COVID-19 period, increasing by over 300.00% from the pre-COVID-19 years. Posts content, media type, and crisis stage influenced the level of public engagement. The study reveals that Facebook is effective for strategic health crisis communication. Furthermore, it provides practical insights for public sector emergency managers responsible for online communication during outbreaks.

CITATION

Bajouk, H., & Ferré-Pavia, C. (2024). Understanding government social media communication strategies and public engagement during the COVID-19 crisis in Lebanon. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 14(2), e202417. https://doi.org/10.30935/ojcmt/14337

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