Experimental Studies of Social Media in Sport

Publication Date


Document Type



Kinesiology & Recreation


Rebecca Achen

Mentor Department

Kinesiology & Recreation


Researchers in sports marketing have suggested social media can be used to build relationships between teams and consumers, thus making social media an effective marketing tool. While engagement has been touted as the ultimate outcome of content posted on social media networks, very little is currently understood about what motivates engagement and why fans engage with sport teams on social media. Past research has solidified that relationship-building is an important aspect of social media marketing (Abeza, O'Reilly, & Reid, 2013; Williams & Chinn, 2010), and it makes sense to view social media marketing in sport with relationship marketing strategies in mind. Relationship marketing focuses on all marketing activities designed to build, maintain, and enhance customer relationships (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). This customer-focused strategy includes two-way communications, interactions, and added value, which are used to deepen relationships between organizations and customers (Grönroos, 2004). Given the business-to-consumer communication capabilities of social media, it is logical that the goal of marketing on social media should be to build relationships with customers. While researchers have suggested that social media can be used to build relationships with consumers, (Schultz & Peltier, 2013), marketers struggle to increase their social media engagement due to a lack of understanding of how individuals use social media and why they engage with specific posts more than others (Miller & Lammas, 2010). In past studies, researchers have used likes, comments, shares, retweets, favorites, reach, and other methods to measure consumer engagement on social media, however research has yet to examine why consumers choose to interact with specific content. While these studies are useful as an initial research base in this area, some researchers have suggested research be advanced through empirical analysis and more sophisitacted methods when applied to sport (Abeza, O'Reilly, Sequin, and Nzindukiyimana, 2015; Filo, Lock, & Karg, 2015). This study aims to extend research on social media marketing in sport through mixed method research design by testing consumer reactions to different content and exploring why consumers interact with Facebook content using MANOVA and ANOVA analyses to determine the impact of each content type. Data presented at the University Research Symposium will include brief detailed descriptions of the study's findings based on nine content categories (team information, community outreach, organizational promotion, external commerce, player promotion, direct sales, product promotion, diversion, and interactivity).



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