The purpose of this study was to examine national sport organizations’ (NSOs’) social networks on Twitter to explore followership between users, thereby illuminating powerful and central actors in a digital environment. Using a stratified, convenience sample, followership between the ego (i.e., NSO) and its alters (i.e., stakeholders) were noted in square, one-mode sociomatrices for the Fencing Canada (381 × 381) and Luge Canada (1026 × 1026) networks on Twitter. Using social network analysis to analyze the data for network density, average ties, Bonacich beta centrality, and core–periphery structure, the results indicate fans, elite athletes, photographers, competing sport organizations, and local clubs are some of the key stakeholders with large amounts of power. Though salient users, such as sponsors and international sport federations, are also present in the network core, NSOs seem better able to increase visibility of their content by targeting smaller scale users. The findings imply managers may wish to reflect upon how these advantaged users can be incorporated into their social communication strategies and how scholarship should continue examining followership as well as content in online settings.
Michael L. Naraine and Milena M. Parent are with the School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada. Parent is also with the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway.