Facebook and Fan Communities : Basketball Clubs’ Social Media Strategies
The research examines and explores the differences and similarities between how the social media platform of Facebook is used in the context of the basketball industry. The research centers on the respective Finnish and Swedish basketball leagues. More precisely, the study scrutinizes nine basketball teams social media representatives – four Finnish and five Swedish – perceptions on how their respective sport clubs act on the medium of Facebook, through the use of relevant marketing theories.
“How do Swedish and Finnish basketball clubs manage their brands and fan clubs on Facebook?”
In the recent years sport marketing has been researched extensively, however the research on sport marketing has focused solely on more established sport leagues (e.g. National Basketball Association, Premier League among other bigger leagues). The major emphasis in sport marketing has been on bigger leagues; this research focuses on the smaller and less established leagues of Finland and Sweden. There is a limited or no literature to be found of sport marketing, which specifically focuses on smaller national leagues. Additionally, the study adds knowledge to a relatively new and evolved way of marketing. Social media marketing research is at its infantry stage, at least when considering research done in more traditional marketing, thus the research could add knowledge to this young marketing sphere. The study is based on a social constructivist approach, where the social actor creates reality. The teams’ social media representatives had their own unique interpretations of team’s actions on the social media platform of Facebook. Moreover, the primarily reason for the study was to create understanding of the perceptional Facebook practices used by two countries basketball teams. The main research question was divided into three research objectives to get more accurate results. Relevant theories of branding and customer relationship management, where emphasis is on relationship marketing, were used to answer the three more specific research objectives. More specifically the theory of relationship marketing is used to identify the teams’ relationship management practices on the social media platform of Facebook and the theory of brand equity was used to understand how the teams’ build their brand image on the medium. Additionally, appropriate organizational definitions are used to recognize the underlying reasons why the sample teams are motivated to use the platform of Facebook. The results indicated that there were both similarities inside the examined country’s teams’ perceptions of Facebook activities and differences between these perceptional practices. However, the differences were of a lessening degree than similarities. Similarly, the country comparison showed that there were only minor differences between Facebook practices used by two countries’ club practices. The study gives a sound general view of smaller and less established sport league teams, thus the study could give a good foundation for further studies on other smaller and less established countries sport league clubs. Furthermore, it could also be used as a building block for a more extensive study, where perceptions of multiple club key stakeholders could be compared with each other to find similarities and differences between their perceptions gaps.
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