Motivations to tweet: a uses and gratifications perspective of Twitter use during a natural disaster

Thumbnail Image
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Alabama Libraries

On April 27, 2011, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was struck by an EF-4 tornado. This research investigates how students at The University of Alabama used Twitter during the warning, impact and recovery stages of the disaster. The warning stage refers to the time before the disaster. The impact stage refers to the time during the disaster, and the recovery stage refers to the time after the disaster. Specifically, this research studies four motivations to use Twitter-- social, entertainment, status seeking, and information. Each category was studied to understand when people who were motivated by the need to socialize, to entertain, to gain status or to gather information were actively tweeting in connection with the tornado. By using a mixed design ANOVA, the researcher found that students were tweeting significantly more during the recovery stage, which included Twitter use, during the weeks after the tornado. The researcher was interested in knowing which motivation produced the most Twitter use. The social, entertainment, and information motivations produced roughly the same amount of Twitter use. The status motivation did not produce as much Twitter use during the natural disaster. The results suggest that those motivated by social, entertainment or information needs tweet more during the impact and recovery stage. The most Twitter use occurs in the weeks after the disaster during the recovery stage.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Mass communication, Communication