This questionnaire was sent out on online through social media channels and there were 80 respondents. It was hardly surprising that the biggest age bracket was between 18-24 (61%, n=80) and because of its sports connection mostly males (76.8%, n=80) filled it out. With spectator sport, males dominate the likes of football and cricket therefore it does not make these results any more invalid. It can be classed as a fair representation of the sport and through social media in sport.
Figure 1 shows a break down of some of key findings from the questionnaire. Interestingly, over three-quarters of respondents (76.9% agree, n=80) follow a sportsperson’s account because of the club they are associated with. This strengthens the case dispelling some stakeholder theory as it is made abundantly clear that personal social media accounts contribute to the overall reputation of the club. If the “talent” is brought in, then his or her association with the club is blatantly obvious.
Worryingly for sporting organisations is that almost half of respondents (46.4%, n=80) would change their attitudes towards the organisation because of a selected social media post, backing the hypothesis that social media abuse will result in issues involving reputation. A similar figure (46.3%, n=80) also believes that many of the sporting employees use social media to damage the organisation’s reputation. This will come more apparent with the case studies highlighted in later chapters.
Fans and supporters of professional sports look to up to the “talent” as role models and inspiration and interesting two-third (65.8% agree, n=80) believe that the personal social media accounts of sportspeople make the clubs they represent reputation stronger as a result. This is despite of the worries resulting from purposely damaging reputation or potential attitude changes.
Figure 1: Data Highlights from Sports Fan Questionnaire
|Strongly Disagree||Slightly Disagree||Slightly Agree||Strongly Agree|
|I follow my team on Social Media because of the sport star’s use of Social Media||25.6%||24.4%||39.0%||8.5%|
|I follow sport star’s Social Media accounts because they are associated with the team I support||12.2%||9.8%||41.5%||35.4%|
|Sport stars’ Social Media messages would change my attitude on the way I portray the team they are associated with||23.3%||29.3%||35.4%||11.0%|
|If sports stars’ Social Media accounts were managed, I would stop following them||8.5%||18.3%||36.6%||35.4%|
|Certain sports stars have bigger influence than others||1.2%||4.9%||22.0%||70.7%|
|Some sports star use Social Media to damage their team’s reputation||14.6%||36.6%||40.2%||6.1%|
|Some Sport stars’ reputations make the team they play for stronger||9.8%||12.2%||41.5%||35.4%|
|Some sport stars’ reputations make the team they play for reputation stronger||7.3%||25.6%||45.1%||20.7%|
|Sport Stars should face disciplinary measures if they use SM incorrectly||19.5%||14.6%||29.3%||35.4%|
|A strict SM policy will help build the reputation of both||15.9%||20.7%||30.5%||31.7%|
To understand the individual versus organisation battle that is evident throughout this research, this questionnaire targeted sports fans that use social media for their sporting consumption. Under half (47.5% agree, n=80) follow their sports team first and more than three-quarters (76.9% agree, n=80) only follow personal sportspersons accounts because they are associated with the team they support. This emphasises the need to manage the “talent” as fans and supporters will follow these personal accounts out of loyalty.
Despite corporate communicators and sportspeople clear urgency to provide guidelines for social media, sports fans were clearly less enthused with more two-third (72.0% agree, n=80) claiming they would ‘unfollow’ social media accounts if they became “managed” and just over three-fifths (62.2% agree, n=80) believing a social media policy would help the organisation and the individual.
This number is still relatively high, but is not as high as the other two questionnaires (corporate communicators and sportspeople). This, however, is slightly expected with fans wanting to know anything about their club and the players they follow. As mentioned before barriers are thinning between business and consumers and some strategic guidelines would help to maintain those barriers.
This is a challenge for sport PR.
Organisations rely heavily on fans and supporters for income and maintaining reputation, therefore social media accounts need to seen as personal but the content produced needs to be under a watchful eye. Media curation seems like a possibility but sport is very speculative and under the media spotlight, and for that reason it would be too much to handle. Content analysis showed some examples of certain sport stars’ use of social media and it shows clear indication and backs up the data the questionnaires have produced.