Use of WeChat to gratify information needs of the Chinese community in Portugal during the COVID-19 outbreak
Keywords:WeChat official accounts, Chinese Community in Portugal, information needs, COVID-19 pandemic dynamics
Abstract[Objectives] This paper seeks to characterize the main themes of COVID-19-related posts delivered by WeChat official accounts targeting Portuguese news, and explore the information needs and preferences of their users. Furthermore, the current study set out to evaluate the influence of coronavirus situation in Portugal on the number of posts, view frequency and total engagement on WeChat platforms. [Methods] Following the selection of COVID-19-related posts published in 2021 by four official accounts targeting Portuguese news, Chi-square tests were conducted to quantitively describe the differences between the four developmental stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal. Negative binominal regression was employed to establish an association between category variables and count data. Regression analysis was used to explore the relationship between COVID-19 infection cases in Portugal and the metrics of selected posts. [Results] A total of 3292 COVID-19-related posts remained. The posts regarding the latest epidemic situation in Portugal, COVID-19 vaccination and the economic news were more prevalent. However, the predominant posts were not consistent with followers’ information demands, and the most in demand information did not generate more engagement. In addition, thematic categories were found to be significantly associated with view frequency and total engagement. Furthermore, a significant difference in thematic categories was identified among the four developmental stages, which in turn was found to be related to the overall engagement of posts. The COVID-19 official case counts in Portugal is predictive of post frequency, view frequency and total engagement. [Conclusions] The results of this study support the view that social media provided diverse information sources for migrants during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is evidently clear from the findings that communicators have to leverage the characteristics of social media, not only for delivering real-time news, but also to gratify public information needs and attract more users.
How to Cite
Cheng, C., & Espanha, R. (2022). Use of WeChat to gratify information needs of the Chinese community in Portugal during the COVID-19 outbreak. Observatorio (OBS*), 16(4). https://doi.org/10.15847/obsOBS16420222184