An Internet-based survey was posted on the Twitter feed of a retired female athlete to ascertain the demographics, uses, and gratifications of her feed’s followers. Analysis of the data revealed that followers were predominantly White, affluent, educated, and older than prior research into online audiences has shown. The perception of the athlete as being an expert at her sport was the most salient reason reported to follow the Twitter feed, followed by affinity for the athlete’s writing style. Analysis of variance uncovered 5 significant differences in item salience between male and female followers, with women more likely to use this Twitter feed because of affinity for the athlete and men more likely to use it because of perception of the athlete as physically attractive. Factor analysis uncovered 3 dimensions of gratification: an organic fandom factor, a functional fandom factor, and an interactivity factor.
Keywords: Internet, socialization, new media, social networking, microblogging