Review of Sports Teams, Fans and Twitter

Watkins, Brandi. Sports Teams, Fans and Twitter: The Influence of Social Media on Relationships and Branding. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019. Pp. 115. Bibliography and Index. $85.00 hardcover, $80.50 e-book.

Reviewed by Brett L. Abrams

The fan-team relationship, a cornerstone in the lives of many people and the bedrock of a sports teams’ survival. With her book Sports Teams, Fans and Twitter, Brandi Watkins provides insight into past analyses of this relationship and investigates how the relationship has been shaped on social media outlets during the last decade.

Rowman and Littlefield, 2019.

The author focused her book around two goals. First, Watkins sought to provide evidence that Twitter is an effective relationship-building tool. Then, she wanted to examine the content already being created by professional teams.

Watkins discussed backgrounds on both sports fandom and sports branding as context for the consideration of the fan-team relationship. She effectively summarized the research on what makes a sports fan and what sports teams have done to brand themselves.

She completed this first section with an original survey that examined the use of Twitter and the engagement between fans and teams. Building upon a lot of work on consumer relationships and online engagement, Watkins determined if any  statistically significant influences existed among either the behavioral dimensions and/or cognitive/affective dimensions of engagement. One of the strengths of this book is that she made certain discoveries and could make claims regarding the relative power of each of these influences.

Watkins second focus involved determining how sports teams currently marketed themselves. Teams needed to focus on relationship marketing rather than focus on the “four P’s” of product, price, promotion and place. Brand personality centered on the way a team personified symbolic meaning for fans. She found three methods teams used on Twitter to build the brand personality and enhance fan identification. She followed with an analysis of how teams leveraged the celebrity of professional athletes. Twitter and social media in general offered an unprecedented method to provide a more balanced relationship between the media persona and the media user.

This book is a good read for people interested in marketing. Historians in that field, as well as those interested in sports fans and teams’ efforts to gain and hold them.

Brett L. Abrams is a cultural historian who has written books on popular culture, sport and celebrity. His latest book is Terry Bradshaw: From Super Bowl Champion to Television Personality.

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