To explore how national governing bodies engage sports fans through the medium of twitter during a major global sporting event: A case study of southern hemisphere teams during the 2015 Rugby World Cup
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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In this study the author investigates the official twitter feeds of three southern hemisphere international rugby union teams and the NGBs that control them for pre during and post tournament dynamic. The study focused on two main objectives: Are NGBs of international rugby teams using twitter to engage fans pre, during and post a major sporting event? and, Is there any relationship between a fan behaviour model and the official twitter feeds of international rugby union NGBs when the team they represent is faced with a positive progression or negative exit in the tournament?. These two objectives were explored by two phases of research. The first phase of research was a quantitative content analysis of total volume and frequency of tweets (2021 tweets). This found that the NGBs were using twitter to engage fans using live commentary and that most of the tweets were produced during the tournament. The second phase of research was a detailed content analysis in which themes were generated from a fan behaviour model (Campbell, Aiken and Kent, 2004) to see if the NGBs shared the same behaviours as the fans in terms of the content posted on twitter in the timeframe of post negative exit or positive progression from the tournament. These main themes were vicarious success, group performance, camaraderie, loyalty, individualism and disassociation. It found that the relationship between fan and sporting organisation is critical they look to build a certain virtual relationship with every fan through twitter. The author suggested that this area of NGBs within the discipline of rugby union could be further examined with a possible comparison between Northern and Southern hemisphere rugby union teams.
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