Networked Fandom: Applying Systems Theory to Sport Twitter Analysis

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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The purpose of this study was to employ systems theory to analyze the social network of a Big Ten football team’s Twitter community. An identifiable network was found among the observed actors (N = 139), with fan accounts composing the largest percentage of the network. The number of observed reciprocal interactions was low, only 11.8% of the interactions and only 21.5% of the nodes. Traditionalmedia accounts frequently interacted with other media accounts, while fans interacted primarily with other fans. Overall, nontraditional-media accounts’ users were most focused on interactivity. Team-related accounts were almost nonexistent in the interactive network. A systems-theory-based network was found in terms of input, transformation, and output components. The feedback loop was the weak link in the network, indicating a possible lack of importance of direct feedback in Twitter social networks.

Clavio and Burch are with the School of Public Health, Indiana University–Bloomington, Bloomington, IN. Frederick is with the Dept. of Kinesiology and Sport, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN.

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