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Share, like, tweet and cheer: an examination of social media usage and the NFL

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Title: Share, like, tweet and cheer: an examination of social media usage and the NFL
Author(s): Martin, Scott
Director of Research: Santos, Carla A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Santos, Carla A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Otnes, Cele C.; Raycraft, Michael; Tainsky, Scott A.; Vargas, Patrick T.
Department / Program: Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline: Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Social media Twitter Facebook Football National Football League sport fan fandom social identity theory human brands consumer-brand relationship
Abstract: Sport is an integral part of American society and no sport in the United States has achieved a greater following than the National Football League (NFL). The introduction and implementation of social media is granting fans unprecedented access to leagues, teams, and players. and providing sport marketers, athletes, and media members with the ability to communicate more effectively with fans. Despite the longevity and continued popularity of sport, few studies to date have explored how and why sport fans are utilizing social media as part of their fandom. The continual rise of social media adoption rates among fans, coupled with the increased social media marketing efforts within professional sport, illustrates a research area worthy of examination. Examining social media’s role within sport fandom will shed light on sport fans’ social media use, preferences, and attitudes, as well as contribute to the contemporary sport literature related to consumer-brand relationships and fan identification. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to identify and examine how NFL fans are using social media as part of their fandom and why they make the effort to do so. A total of twenty individual, in-depth interviews were conducted with highly identified NFL fans. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed, and subsequently analyzed using constant comparative techniques. Through the use of grounded theory, a theoretical model of the modes of social media usage by NFL fans was developed. This model consists of three modes of social media usage including: (1) access, (2) voice, and (3) validation. By recognizing and defining distinct modes, this study provides a blueprint of the ways that fans have incorporated social media into their fandom. This categorization may prove beneficial to NFL teams, players, and sport media members as they try to determine the best ways to leverage social media in order to reach various types of fans. Findings from this study also provide insight into the process of social identification among NFL fans and demonstrate social media’s impact on the development of relationships (i.e., parasocial attachments) between fans and human brands (i.e., NFL players).
Issue Date: 2012-09-18
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34418
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Scott Martin
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-09-18
Date Deposited: 2012-08
 

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