Does social media play sports? : A Case Study on Finnish Sport Team Social Media Usage: Motivations, Expectations and Measurements
The use of social media has been increasing enormously during the past years. Busi-
nesses have realized the importance of being present in social media, like Facebook,
but purposes for utilizing it vary widely among academics as well as among the prac-
titioners. Also, quantifying and measuring success in social media activities can be
challenging without proper definitions of success factors and relevant metrics to
measure them. Sports organizations are understudied in social media since the previ-
ous research and academic literature have focused only on businesses in general.
Sports industry and sports fans, however, have some special characteristics to be
considered when studying business in social media, such as an intangible, experien-
tial, and subjective nature of sport events and strong personal and emotional identifi-
cation sports fans have towards their favorite team.
This study aims to find out the reasons and understand why companies act in social
media, like Facebook; for what purposes they use social media, what do they expect
to gain from it, and how do they evaluate success of their social media activities. The
empirical study focuses on sports teams, in particular, and the case companies are
Finnish professional hockey teams.
This study takes a qualitative approach to fulfill the purpose of the study and to un-
derstand and interpret the phenomenon in hand. A case study with four semi-
structured open interviews was conducted to collect empirical data. The data was re-
flected and analyzed against the frame of reference in order to reach conclusions.
Fan engagement and community building seem to be the most essential reasons for
sports organizations’ presence in social media. These aspects were argued to emerge
in a large extent especially in sports business. Also, communicating and informing
was seen to be important. Advertising and sales promotion were indentified to be
less important. When it comes to quantifying and measuring success there is a lack of
clear definitions and metrics, but also a lack of resources and consistent planning, to
effectively monitor the influence and results of social media activities. Implications
for better practices are identified and discussed in this paper. Additionally, some fu-
ture expectations for social media, like mobile integration, were identified.
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