Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy


Ronald J. Hy


social media, local government, Facebook, e-government


Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration


The purpose of this mixed methods multi-case study is to analyze (1) how small-town governments are using the Facebook social media platform to serve residents; (2) the results that are experienced by the small-town governments and residents in the town’s use of Facebook; and (3) the factors that influence the small-town governments to use Facebook to serve residents. The setting for the study is three small-town governments (Abingdon, Lebanon, and Marion) located in Southwestern Virginia. The theoretical framework guiding this study is the T3 Framework for Innovation by Dr. Sonny Magana. This theoretical framework, originally created to assess the use of technology in education, can be applied to public administration in the study of the adoption and utilization of Facebook by small-town governments. The T3 model can be used to understand the exact level (T1: translational, T2: transformational, or T3: transcendent) at which small-town governments are utilizing the Facebook social media platform as part of their e-government services. The study highlights the similarities and differences among the three small-town governments in their approach and the experiences in the use of the Facebook social media platform to serve residents. Data was collected through analysis of documents (Facebook page content and Insights reports) and interviews. Recommendations are provided to the towns that will strengthen each town’s use of the Facebook social media platform to serve residents.