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Optimizing Social Media Engagement in Professional Sport: A 3-Year Examination of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Posts

Michael L. Naraine and Jordan T. Bakhsh

Although social media has gained significant notoriety, there remains a “missing link” in examining engagement in the sport context. While the why, what, and whom have been explored, the where and when have received considerably less uptake. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to examine social media engagement for professional sports teams to determine optimal when and where points of user engagement, and the relationship between impressions and engagement. Over two billion data points from 108,124 Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts were collected from four professional sports teams between 2017 and 2019. Findings from a regression analysis indicate that both when and where variables significantly predicted impression, and findings from the correlation analysis indicate that impression and engagement are nearly identical. These findings show fan engagement in the context of professional sport teams, prompting scholars to consider the impacts of time and platform, and encourage practitioners to rethink posting on Twitter, the least engaging of the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter platforms.

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Illuminating Centralized Users in the Social Media Ego Network of Two National Sport Organizations

Michael L. Naraine and Milena M. Parent

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.

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This Is How We Do It: A Qualitative Approach to National Sport Organizations’ Social-Media Implementation

Michael L. Naraine and Milena M. Parent

This study’s purpose was to uncover national sport organizations’ (NSOs) perceptions of social media to understand how social media are situated and implemented. Specifically, the study sought to understand the perceived utility of social media, the rationale for the content produced and disseminated, and the factors affecting social-media implementation. Through semistructured interviews with Canadian NSOs, results were grouped into 3 themes: the value of social media (i.e., benefits, potential, and credibility), social-media use (i.e., content, types of social-media platforms, and rationale/motivations), and the challenges associated with social media (i.e., capacity, language issues, stakeholders engagement or lack thereof, and resistance). NSOs implement social media solely for business-to-consumer purposes. Social media act as a “double-edged sword”: NSOs believe that a good social-media presence requires sufficient resources but remain unconvinced of the “true” strategic value of social media.

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Analogous Forecasting for Predicting Sport Innovation Diffusion: From Business Analytics to Natural Language Processing

Liz Wanless and Michael L. Naraine

The purpose of this study was to analyze the diffusion of one sport innovation to forecast a second. Contextualized within the diffusion of innovations theory, this study investigated cumulative business analytics diffusion as an analog for cumulative natural language processing (NLP) diffusion in professional sport. A total of 89 teams of the 123 teams in the Big Four North American men’s professional sport leagues contributed: 21 from the National Football League, 23 from the National Basketball Association, 22 from Major League Baseball, and 23 from the National Hockey League. Utilizing an analogous forecasting approach, a discrete derivation of the Bass model was applied to cumulative BA adoption data. Parameters were then extended to predict cumulative NLP adoption. Resulting BA-estimated parameters (p = .0072, q = .3644) determined a close fit to NLP diffusion (root mean square error of approximation = 3.51, mean absolute error = 2.98), thereby validating BA to predict the takeoff and full adoption of NLP. This study illuminates an ongoing and isomorphic process for diffusion of innovations in the professional sport social system and generates a novel application of diffusion of innovations theory to the sport industry.

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Ambush by Dre: A Case Study of the National Football League and the Challenges Arising from Conflicting Sponsorship Strategies

Michael L. Naraine, Benoît Séguin, and Eric MacIntosh

In this case study, students are exposed to the issue of stakeholder management through the lens of the National Football League (NFL), using a contemporary example of ambush marketing and player endorsement deals as the primary context. The case depicts nonfictitious events that involve players and their disdain for league policies regarding donning brands and products that violate exclusivity agreements the league has with other companies. After identifying the origins of the circumstances, the case profiles the three principal stakeholder groups involved (i.e., the players, the ambushed sponsor, and the focal organization) through their respective leaders (i.e., DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL players association, Bob Maresca, president of Bose Corporation, and Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL). Using fictitious commentary, the case culminates with the three actors utilizing the services of a sports consultancy firm as they work together to determine the best course of action. Learning objectives include understanding collegiality in a professional setting, and mitigating conflicting sponsorship strategies.

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Puck Drop in the Pacific Northwest: Building Brand Equity for a New Professional Sport Franchise

Melissa Davies, Michael L. Naraine, and Brandon Mastromartino

This case asks participants to take on the role of a brand consultant, working for the fictional brand management firm, BrandNew, to advise on the branding of a new National Hockey League (NHL) franchise. The consultant will need to identify the strengths and weaknesses in the brand equity for three previous NHL expansion or relocation teams (i.e., Vegas Golden Knights, Winnipeg Jets, Carolina Hurricanes) in order to understand what goes into selecting an effective team name, color scheme, logo, mascot, and how to socially integrate into the host city market. Consultants will then make recommendations for the NHL’s next expansion team in Seattle, Washington, so as to build sustained brand equity in the Seattle market.

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California Streamin’: Developing an Integrated Social Media Strategy to Attract Fans to a New Streaming App

Lynley Ingerson, Michael L. Naraine, Nola Agha, and Daniel J. Pedroza

Laurie Spinks is the Director of Social Engagement at NBC Sports Bay Area. She has been instrumental in developing strategies for social media platforms across a number of different sports, and must now develop a social media strategy which drives fans towards a new app. NBC Sports created the My Teams app to counter cord-cutting and allow sport fans to stream live games of their favorite local teams on their mobile devices. Prior to the launch of the app in the Bay Area, Spinks will meet with her team to formulate a social media strategy which supports the new app. This case explores some of the elements that contribute to the development of a social media marketing strategy for the NBC Sports My Teams app. In particular, the strategy focuses on targeting the San Francisco Bay Area sport audience by identifying and developing social media objectives, creating an audience profile for app usage, and implementing appropriate strategies to support objectives and attract the desired audience.

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New to the Board: A Case Study of Canadian Tire Corporation and the Potential Purchase of the Forzani Group Limited

Michael L. Naraine, Jess C. Dixon, and Candice Horton

This case study explores the potential purchase of the Forzani Group Limited by the Canadian Tire Corporation. Students take on the role of Sara Brown, a new member of Canadian Tire’s board of directors. With an emergency meeting scheduled for the following morning to decide the fate of the proposed acquisition, Brown has been called upon to provide input to the board given her aptitude for corporate acquisitions and mergers. The case profiles both companies and details the state of the retail sport industry in Canada. Notably, there is emphasis on company product offerings (e.g., merchandise), financials (e.g., balance sheets), and goodwill (e.g., charities) to provide students with pertinent information to develop their argument(s) for and/or against the acquisition. Primary learning objectives include engaging in environmental scanning exercises (e.g., SWOT analyses) and evaluating market forces present in the retail sporting goods industry.

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Sport4Change: Adapting to COVID-19 Through Innovation

Mitchell McSweeney, Per G. Svensson, and Michael L. Naraine

The case explores how Sport4Change will adapt its sport-for-development (SFD) programs in response to the current uncertainty presented by COVID-19. Being able to innovate program operations, implementation, and delivery is key to the success and long-term sustainability of Sport4Change, and changing program strategies needs to be done correctly given the organization’s varying locations around the world. Making such decisions requires consideration of the various contexts in which Sport4Change works, understanding diverse options to implement SFD through technological or remote means, and aligning remote delivery and operations with each SFD location and their in-person program focus and goals in order to come up with solutions to ensure SFD remains impactful during COVID-19.

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A New Era for Governance Structures and Processes in Canadian National Sport Organizations

Milena M. Parent, Michael L. Naraine, and Russell Hoye

With the numerous changes to the sport system landscape since Slack and his colleagues examined national sport organizations’ governance in the 1990s, the purpose of this paper was to begin exploring the impact of these environmental changes on Canadian national sport organizations. To do so, we focused on five Canadian national sport organizations, from large Olympic sport organizations to small non-Olympic sport organizations. The two-pronged content and network analyses point to a convergence of governance structures and stakeholder interactions between the five organizations due in no small part to the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. We found organizations coordinating with both traditional (e.g., athletes) and nontraditional (e.g., social media public) stakeholder groups as well as renewing their focus on accountability and transparency. These findings imply a need to revisit the kitchen table–boardroom–executive office archetype continuum and demonstrate the extent of influence environmental changes (e.g., technological advancement and new laws) can have on sport organizations.