In this case study, the authors take a first look at how professional sports teams are using mobile apps as part of their branding and marketing strategies, as well as to enhance fan experience. Through the use of quantitative content-analysis methodology, professional sports teams’ mobile apps (N = 72) are analyzed to assess branding and marketing strategies and opportunities for fan engagement. The branding strategies most prevalent on the mobile apps include information about the teams and their performance. In terms of marketing strategies, 32 of the mobile apps provide an opportunity for fans to purchase team merchandise, and 75% provide an opportunity for fans to purchase tickets. Fan-engagement features that were most prevalent in mobile apps include check-in features (40%) and fantasy-league information (33%). Nearly 90% of mobile apps in the sample integrated Twitter, while 65% provided fans with access to Facebook.
Brandi Watkins and Regina Lewis
Brandi A. Watkins
This project revisits the social identity–brand equity (SIBE) model developed by Underwood, Bond, and Baer (2001). The model proposes that marketplace characteristics relevant to sports can be used to enhance one’s social identification with a team, which is assumed to have a positive influence on a team’s customer-based brand equity. The current study has two goals: (a) to provide an empirical assessment of the SIBE model in the context of professional sports and (b) assess the individual influence of the proposed marketplace characteristics on social identification. We report results of a survey of U.S. National Basketball Association fans, which provide partial support for the model. Group experience and venue were found to have the strongest influence on social identification with a team. Considerations for theoretical advancement of the model and practical application for sport brand managers are discussed.
Brandi Watkins and Jason W. Lee
This case study examined how a large university in the southern U.S. incorporated branding strategies into its social-media content. Specifically, the strategies for using text-based social media (Twitter) and visual-based social media (Instagram) to communicate brand identity through brand associations and brand personality were investigated. To do this, the authors conducted a 2-part study. The first, a content analysis of social-media content, revealed how the athletic department communicated the football team’s brand identity through brand associations and brand personality. Second, a survey assessed the perceived brand personality of the football program through social-media content to determine external perceptions of the team. Results support the use of Instagram as a branding strategy. Instagram was used more than Twitter to communicate brand associations and brand-personality cues, while survey results indicated that respondents exposed to Instagram content reported higher perceptions of brand personality than those exposed to Twitter content.
Betsy R. Haugh and Brandi Watkins
As social media continue to redefine communication between sports organizations and fans, increased scholarly attention is needed to understand why sports fans use various platforms to engage with their favorite teams. Based on research from Hanna, Rohm, and Crittenden suggesting that companies should view social-media platforms as pieces of an integrated network rather than focusing exclusively on 1 platform, this study investigated the various social-media platforms sports fans use and their motivation for doing so. Through a survey of college-age sports fans, the research found that there is no significant relationship between level of team identification and intensity of social-media use, but team identification and gender can predict the use of certain social-media platforms for sports fans. In addition, a clear pattern for social-media use by sports fans emerged, culminating in the development of the Social-Media Ecosystem for Sports Fans.