COVID-19 Twitter Communication of Major Societal Stakeholders: Health Institutions, the Government, and the News Media
More than 200 million people worldwide have been afflicted with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). To gain insights into COVID-19 communication on social media, we surveyed 354,200 tweets posted between January 1 and November 14, 2020, by some of the major societal stakeholders in the fight against COVID-19: government health agencies, hospitals, medical and scientific journals, and the news media. We uncover a sustained COVID-19 communication effort by government agencies, hospitals, and journals. By contrast, COVID-19 coverage by the news media on Twitter substantially declined after May 2020 and became increasingly more politicized. Using multivariate regression analysis, we identify medical, political, and socioeconomic elements of COVID-19 communication that predict user engagement on Twitter. A better understanding of the communication strategies that engage social media audiences may be vital to managing the current COVID-19 pandemic and saving human lives.