Non-Financial Reporting Through Social Media: Evidence from Spanish Local Governments
Keywords:Transparency, Non-Financial Reporting, Municipalities, Social Media
In recent years, different non-financial information models have arisen trying to complete the traditional financial reports prepared by companies and public administrations. The fundamental objective of these models has been to satisfy the interest of the stakeholders, which goes beyond the numbers included in the balance sheet and the income statement. In the case of the public sector, this is coupled with the discontent and distrust of citizens towards politicians and administrators of institutions, which makes it necessary to emphasize tools and strategies that can improve the transparency and accountability of administrations and restore citizen trust. This requires that economic, but also social and environmental information be provided and that it be comprehensible and clear to users. On the other hand, the fast growth of Web 2.0 and social media technology is facilitating the improvement of communication between local government and their citizens. Several authors have indicated the relevance of social media as a key tool to encourage citizen engagement by facilitating for communication, discussion, and coordination of public and social activities. This study is a first step toward understanding the use of social media tools by Spanish local governments for transparency purposes. In this vein, based on content analysis, this paper aims to investigate the extent of non-financial reporting through social media in Spanish municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Although there are many social media platforms with different functionalities, participation/engagement is a common characteristic of all of them, such as openness, conversation, connectivity, and community. Specifically, this study is focused on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. We have chosen these social networks because they are the ones generally implemented in Spanish municipalities: Facebook and Twitter are present in 95.9% of the municipalities and YouTube in 82.8%. This paper contributes to the debate on local government transparency and provides guidelines for developing appropriate social media strategies and policies.
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