Brand-Image Communication Through Social Media: The Case of European Professional Football Clubs

in International Journal of Sport Communication
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD $63.00

1 year subscription

USD $84.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD $119.00

2 year subscription

USD $156.00

Social-media platforms have become an important tool for sport marketers to communicate their brand image and engage with fans. This study analyzed 1,115 Facebook posts and 16,308 tweets from 10 of the most valuable European professional football clubs to identify the range of brand associations communicated and the level of online fan engagement. Statistical analysis captured correlations between and among selected brand attributes, time periods of posts (in and off-season), and levels of fan engagement. On both Facebook and Twitter, football clubs posted more frequently during the season, while content associated with product-related attributes was the focus of such communication. Product-related content was found to generate higher levels of online fan engagement. The study extends the literature on sport teams’ brand management through social media and offers practical recommendations on how to enhance fan identification and engagement and ultimately make financial and reputational gains.

Maderer was with the Inst. for Sport Science and Sport–Nürnberg, Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany. Parganas was with the School of Sciences, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece. Anagnostopoulos is with Faculty of Business Administration & Social Sciences, Molde University College, Molde, Norway, and the School of Business & Management UCLan, Pyla, Cyprus.

Anagnostopoulos (christos.anagnostopoulos@himolde.no) is corresponding author.
International Journal of Sport Communication
Article Sections
References
  • AakerD. (1991). Managing brand equity. New York, NY: Free Press.

  • AakerD. (1996). Building strong brands. New York, NY: Free Press.

  • AbezaG. & O’ReillyN. (2018). Social, digital, and mobile media in sport marketing. In E. Schwarz & J. Hunter (Eds.) Advanced theory and practice in sport marketing (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AbezaG.O’ReillyN. & ReidI. (2013). Relationship marketing and social media in sport. International Journal of Sport Communication 6(2) 120142. doi:10.1123/ijsc.6.2.120

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AbezaG.O’ReillyN. & SeguinB. (2017). Social media in relationship marketing. The perspective of professional sport managers in the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL. Communication & Sport. Advance online publication. doi:10.1177/2167479517740343

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AbezaG.O’ReillyN.SeguinB. & NzindukiyimanaO. (2015). Social media scholarship in sport management research: A critical review. Journal of Sport Management 29(6) 601618. doi:10.1123/JSM.2014-0296

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AbezaG.O’ReillyN.SeguinB. & NzindukiyimanaO. (2017). Social media as a relationship marketing tool in professional sport: A netnographical exploration. International Journal of Sport Communication 10(3) 325358. doi:10.1123/ijsc.2017-0041

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AnagnostopoulosC.GilloolyL.CookD.ParganasP. & ChadwickS. (2017). Stakeholder communication in 140 characters or less: A study of community sport foundations. VOLUNTAS International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 28(5) 22242250. doi:10.1007/s11266-016-9802-4

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AnagnostopoulosC.ParganasP.ChadwickS. & FentonA. (2018). Branding in pictures: Using Instagram as a brand management tool in professional team sport organizations. European Sport Management Quarterly. Advance online publication. doi:10.1080/16184742.2017.1410202

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • AraiA.KoY.J. & RossS. (2014). Branding athletes: Exploration and conceptualization of athlete brand image. Sport Management Review 17(2) 97106. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2013.04.003

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BauerH.H.SauerN.E. & SchmittP. (2005). Customer-based brand equity in the team sport industry: Operationalization and impact on the economic success of sport teams. European Journal of Marketing 39(5/6) 496513. doi:10.1108/03090560510590683

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BauerH.H.Stockburger-SauerN.E. & ExlerS. (2008). Brand image and fan loyalty in professional team sport: A refined model and empirical assessment. Journal of Sport Management 22(2) 205226. doi:10.1123/jsm.22.2.205

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BeechJ. & ChadwickS. (2008). The marketing of sport. Essex, UK: Pearson Education.

  • BerryL.L. (2000). Cultivating service brand equity. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 28(1) 128137. doi:10.1177/0092070300281012

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BlumrodtJ.BrysonD. & FlanaganJ. (2012). European football teams’ CSR engagement impacts on customer-based brand equity. Journal of Consumer Marketing 29(7) 482493. doi:10.1108/07363761211274992

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brand Finance. (2015). Brand finance football 50 2015—The annual report on the world’s most valuable football brands. Retrieved from http://brandfinance.com/images/upload/bf_football_50_for_website.pdf

    • Export Citation
  • BrowningB. & SandersonJ. (2012). The positives and negatives of Twitter: Exploring how student-athletes use Twitter and respond to critical tweets. International Journal of Sport Communication 5(4) 503521. doi:10.1123/ijsc.5.4.503

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BruhnM.SchoenmuellerV. & SchaeferD.B. (2012). Are social media replacing traditional media in terms of brand equity creation? Management Research Review 35(9) 770790. doi:10.1108/01409171211255948

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • BrymanA. & BellE. (2015). Business research methods (4th ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

  • ChanavatN. & BodetG. (2014). Experiential marketing in sport spectatorship services: A customer perspective. European Sport Management Quarterly 14(4) 323344. doi:10.1080/16184742.2014.926379

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChangY. (2018). Spectators’ emotional responses in tweets during the Super Bowl 50 game. Sport Management Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2018.04.008

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ChristodoulidesG. & de ChernatonyL. (2010). Consumer-based brand equity conceptualization and measurement—A literature review. International Journal of Market Research 52(1) 4366. doi:10.2501/S1470785310201053

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ClavioG. (2013). Emerging social media and applications in sport. In P. Pedersen (Ed.) Handbook of sport communication (pp. 259268). New York, NY: Routledge.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ClavioG. & KianE.M. (2010). Uses and gratifications of a retired female athlete’s Twitter followers. International Journal of Sport Communication 3(4) 485500. doi:10.1123/ijsc.3.4.485

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • CordinerR. (2001). Sport wakes up to the value of brands. Sports Marketing 75 13.

  • DavidJ.PowlessM.HymanJ.PurnellD.SteinfeldtJ. & FisherS. (2018). College student athletes and social media: The psychological impacts of Twitter use. International Journal of Sport Communication 11(2) 163186. doi:10.1123/ijsc.2018-0044

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deloitte. (2015). Annual review of football finance 2011. Retrieved from http://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/sports-business-group/articles/annual-review-of-football-finance.html

    • Export Citation
  • Deloitte. (2016). Football money league. Retrieved from http://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/sports-business-group/articles/deloitte-football-money-league.html

    • PubMed
    • Export Citation
  • DoyleJ.FiloK.McDonaldH. & FunkD. (2013). Exploring sport brand double jeopardy: The link between team market share and attitudinal loyalty. Sport Management Review 16(3) 285297. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2012.11.001

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • eBizMBA. (2016). Top 15 most popular social networking sites—February 2016. Retrieved from http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites

    • Export Citation
  • FrederickE.L.LimC.H.ClavioG. & WalshP. (2012). Why we follow: An examination of parasocial interaction and fan motivations for following athlete archetypes on Twitter. International Journal of Sport Communication 5(4) 481502. doi:10.1123/ijsc.5.4.481

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • FreyL.BotanC. & KrepsG. (2000). Investigating communication: An introduction to research methods (2nd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GibbsC.O’ReillyN. & BrunetteM. (2014). Professional team sport and Twitter: Gratifications sought and obtained by followers. International Journal of Sport Communication 7(2) 188213. doi:10.1123/IJSC.2014-0005

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • GladdenJ. & FunkD. (2002). Developing an understanding of brand associations in team sports: Empirical evidence from consumers of professional sport. Journal of Sport Management 16(1) 5481. doi:10.1123/jsm.16.1.54

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HambrickM.E. & KangS.J. (2015). Pin it: Exploring how professional sports organizations use Pinterest as a communications and relationship-marketing tool. Communication & Sport 3(4) 434457. doi:10.1177/2167479513518044

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • HambrickM.E.SimmonsJ.M.GreenhalghG.P. & GreenwellT.C. (2010). Understanding professional athletes’ use of Twitter: A content analysis of athlete tweets. International Journal of Sport Communication 3(4) 454471. doi:10.1123/ijsc.3.4.454

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • JensenR.LimbuY. & SpongY. (2015). Visual analytics of Twitter conversations about corporate sponsors of FC Barcelona and Juventus at the 2015 UEFA final. International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship 16(4) 39. doi:10.1108/IJSMS-16-04-2015-B002

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KapfererJ.N. (2008). The new strategic brand management—Creating and sustaining brand equity long term (4th ed.). Kogan Page.

  • KassingJ.W. & SandersonJ. (2010). Fan–athlete interaction and Twitter. Tweeting through the Giro: A case study. International Journal of Sport Communication 3(1) 113128. doi:10.1123/ijsc.3.1.113

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KellerK.L. (1993). Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity. Journal of Marketing 57(1) 122. doi:10.2307/1252054

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KellerK.L. (2009). Building strong brands in a modern marketing communications environment. Journal of Marketing Communications 15(2–3) 139155. doi:10.1080/13527260902757530

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KerrA.K. & GladdenJ.M. (2008). Extending the understanding of professional team brand equity to the global marketplace. International Journal of Management and Marketing 3(1/2) 5877.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KimJ.JamesJ. & KimY. (2013). A model of the relationship among sport consumer motives, spectator commitment, and behavioral intentions. Sport Management Review 16(2) 173185. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2012.08.004

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KoenigstoerferJ.Groeppel-KleinA. & KunkelT. (2010). The attractiveness of national and international football leagues: Perspectives of fans of “star clubs” and “underdogs.” European Sport Management Quarterly 10(2) 127163. doi:10.1080/16184740903563406

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • KunkelT.DoyleJ.P.FunkD.C.DuJ. & McDonaldH. (2016). The development and change of brand associations and their influence on team loyalty over time. Journal of Sport Management 30(2) 117134. doi:10.1123/jsm.2015-0129

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • LiB.DittmoreS.ScottO.LoW.-J. & StokowskiS. (2018). Why we follow: Examining motivational differences in following sport organizations on Twitter and Weibo. Sport Management Review. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2018.04.006

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MadererD.HoltbrüggeD. & SchusterT. (2014). Professional football squads as multicultural teams: Cultural diversity, intercultural experience, and team performance. International Journal of Cross Cultural Management 14(2) 215238. doi:10.1177/1470595813510710

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McCarthyJ.RowleyJ.AshworthC.J. & PiochE. (2014). Managing brand presence through social media: The case of UK football clubs. Internet Research 24(2) 181204. doi:10.1108/IntR-08-2012-0154

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • MischokK. (2015). Wie erzielen deutsche Fernsehsendungen Interaktionen auf Facebook? Beschreibung und Evaluation der Strategien von Content-Anbietern. In C. Buschow & B. Schneider (Eds.) Social TV in Deutschland (pp. 169182). Leipzig, Germany: Vistas.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • O’sheaM. & AlonsoA.D. (2011). Opportunity or obstacle? A preliminary study of professional sport organizations in the age of social media. International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing 10(3–4) 196212. doi:10.1504/IJSMM.2011.044790

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ParganasP. & AnagnostopoulosC. (2015). Social media strategy in professional football: The case of Liverpool FC. Sports Management International Journal Choregia 11(2) 6275. doi:10.4127/ch.2015.0102

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ParganasP.AnagnostopoulosC. & ChadwickS. (2015). “You’ll never tweet alone”: Managing sport brands through social media. Journal of Brand Management 22(7) 551568. doi:10.1057/bm.2015.32

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • ParkN.KeeK. & ValenzuelaS. (2009). Being immersed in social networking environment: Facebook groups, uses and gratifications, and social outcomes. Cyber Psychology and Behavior 12(6) 729733. doi:10.1089/cpb.2009.0003

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PegoraroA. (2010). Look who’s talking—Athletes on Twitter: A case study. International Journal of Sport Communication 3(4) 501514. doi:10.1123/ijsc.3.4.501

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PoppB. & WoratschekH. (2016). Introducing branded communities in sport for building strong brand relations in social media. Sport Management Review 19(2) 183197. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2015.06.001

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PriceJ.FarringtonN. & HallL. (2013). Changing the game? The impact of Twitter on relationships between football clubs, supporters and the sports media. Soccer & Society 14(4) 446461. doi:10.1080/14660970.2013.810431

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • PronschinskeM.GrozaM. & WalkerM. (2012). Attracting Facebook ‘fans’: The importance of authenticity and engagement as a social networking strategy for professional sport teams. Sport Marketing Quarterly 21(4) 221231.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RiffeD.LacyS. & FicoF.G. (2005). Analyzing media messages: Using quantitative content analysis in research (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RossS. (2006). A conceptual framework for understanding spectator-based brand equity. Journal of Sport Management 20(1) 2238. doi:10.1123/jsm.20.1.22

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RossS.JamesJ. & VargasP. (2006). Development of scale to measure team brand associations in professional sport. Journal of Sport Management 20(2) 260279. doi:10.1123/jsm.20.2.260

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • RossS.D.RussellK.C. & BangH. (2008). An empirical assessment of spectator-based brand equity. Journal of Sport Management 22(3) 322337. doi:10.1123/jsm.22.3.322

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • SandersonJ. & TruaxC. (2014). “I hate you man!”: Exploring maladaptive parasocial interaction expressions to college athletes via Twitter. Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics 7 333351.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Socialbakers. (2014). Finding the right engagement rate for your Facebook page in 2014. Retrieved from http://www.socialbakers.com/blog/2137-finding-the-right-engagement-rate-for-your-facebook-page-in-2014

    • Export Citation
  • Socialbakers. (2018). Facebook stats. Retrieved from http://www.socialbakers.com/statistics/facebook/pages/total/sport/sport-club/

    • Export Citation
  • StavrosC.MengM.WestbergK. & FarrellyF. (2014). Understanding fan motivation for interacting on social media. Sport Management Review 17(4) 455469. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2013.11.004

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • StorieJ. (2008). Professional athletes, sports: The ultimate branding. Fort Worth Business Press22(26) 13.

  • TapscottD. (2008). Net geners come of age. Retrieved from http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/stories/2008-11-03/net-geners-come-of-agebusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

    • Export Citation
  • ThompsonA.-J.MartinA.GeeS.GeurinA. (2018). Building brand and fan relationships through social media. Sport Business and Management 8(3) 235256. doi:10.1108/SBM-04-2017-0024

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UhrichS. (2014). Exploring customer-to-customer value co-creation platforms and practices in team sports. European Sport Management Quarterly 14(1) 2549. doi:10.1080/16184742.2013.865248

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • VallerandR.J.NtoumanisN.PhilippeF.L.LavigneG.L.CarbonneauN.BonnevilleA.MalihaG. (2008). On passion and sports fans: A look at football. Journal of Sports Sciences 26(12) 12791293. PubMed ID: 18803066 doi:10.1080/02640410802123185

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WakefieldL.T. & BennettG. (2018). Sports fan experience: Electronic word-of-mouth in ephemeral social media. Sport Management Review 21(2) 147159. doi:10.1016/j.smr.2017.06.003

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WallaceL.WilsonJ. & MilochK. (2011). Sporting Facebook: A content analysis of NCAA organizational sport pages and Big 12 Conference athletic department pages. International Journal of Sport Communication 4(4) 422444. doi:10.1123/ijsc.4.4.422

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WilliamsJ. & ChinnS.J. (2010). Meeting relationship-marketing goals through social media: A conceptual model for sport marketers. International Journal of Sport Communication 3(4) 422437. doi:10.1123/ijsc.3.4.422

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WitkemperC.LimC.H. & WaldburgerA. (2012). Social media and sports marketing: Examining the motivations and constraints of Twitter users. Sport Marketing Quaterly 21(3) 170183.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • WoratschekH.HorbelC. & PoppB. (2014). The sport value framework—A new fundamental logic for analyses in sport. European Sport Management Quarterly 14(1) 624. doi:10.1080/16184742.2013.865776

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
Article Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 246 246 82
Full Text Views 58 58 1
PDF Downloads 24 24 1
Altmetric Badge
PubMed
Google Scholar