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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Marketing | 2015
Thesis number: 13950
The role of social media in enhancing spectator sports fan phenomenon - Case Finnish men's national basketball team Susijengi
Author: Ikäheimonen, Erika
Title: The role of social media in enhancing spectator sports fan phenomenon - Case Finnish men's national basketball team Susijengi
Year: 2015  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Marketing
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; urheilu; sports; tapahtumat; events; yleisö; audience; sosiaalinen media; social media
Pages: 86
Key terms: spectator sports, fan, phenomenon, social media

Spectator sports brands face a tough challenge in managing their brand due to the nature of spectator sports, where fans are influenced by the performance, wins and losses, of the object. The challenge is to react on fluctuations in performance in real-time. The purpose of this study is to add understanding on social media's role in enhancing a spectator sports fan phenomenon. The study examines the fans' attitudes towards sport organization's social media activities. The study focuses on gaining insight on how social media can be utilized for and what kind of actions help sport organizations to manage the brand online. In addition, this study tries to gain insight on how social media utilization can influence on fan experiences and behavior.


This research is two-fold. First, the previous academic literature in the fields of spectator sports and social media were examined. The empirical part of the thesis is based in a qualitative single case study including a Finnish spectator sports team. The fan insight was included by performing semi-structured interviews. The empirical material was analyzed and the findings were compared with previous academic literature.


As a key finding, this study suggests that spectator sports fan phenomenon can be enhanced through sport organizations' social media efforts. Sport organizations can enhance fan phenomenon by effecting on fans' attitudes and behavior in two ways. First, social media can be utilized as an additional channel for organizational communication through which the brand awareness and brans associations of a fan can be effected and consequently leading certain behavior. Secondly, the study revealed that fan's attitudes and behavior can additionally be effected by influencing on fan's overall experience on specific events. The study revealed that active responses on social media around game events can shape fan's experience towards the event. In addition, the study found more practical findings that relate to the content types utilized. First, fans expect to see different types of content in different occasions, during the season and during the off-season. During the season the fans are more receptive for various types of content whereas during the off-season preferably should focus on players and the information related to upcoming events. Secondly, the preferred frequency also varied between these occasions. During the season fans' urge for information is greater than during the off-season. Thirdly, the study showed that the level of engagement towards social media is relatively low and thus the fans' attitudes towards social media activities should not be analyzed purely based on fans' reflected social media engagement.
Master's theses are stored at Learning Centre in Otaniemi.