Conversing or Diffusing Information?

An Examination of Public Health Twitter Chats


  • Lauren Bayliss Georgia Southern University
  • Yuner Zhu
  • King-Wa Fu
  • Lindsay A. Mullican
  • Ferdous Ahmed
  • Hai Liang
  • Zion Tsz Ho Tse
  • Nitin Saroha
  • Jingjing Yin
  • Isaac Chun-Hai Fung



This study examines the one-way information diffusion and two-way dialogic engagement present in public health Twitter chats. Network analysis assessed whether Twitter chats adhere to one of the key principles for online dialogic communication, the dialogic loop (Kent & Taylor, 1998) for four public health-related chats hosted by CDC Twitter accounts. The features of the most retweeted accounts and the most retweeted tweets also were examined. The results indicate that very little dialogic engagement took place. Moreover, the chats seemed to function as pseudoevents primarily used by organizations as opportunities for creating content. However, events such as #PublicHealthChat may serve as important opportunities for gaining attention for issues on social media. Implications for using social media in public interest communications are discussed.






Original Research