Social media and sports journalism

Recently, I appeared on ABC Radio Canberra to talk about social media and sports and a press release was put out about some of the research I have done on the impact of social media on sports journalists. Below follows the press release and its original link is here

A link to my research papers is available here and the press release about this research is link number 10 of my journal articles

Press release written by Marcus Butler

16 June 2017: It’s one of the plum gigs in journalism, but even sports reporting isn’t immune to the increasing influence of social media in newsrooms around the world.

The rise of a variety of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has changed the way journalists work and sports reporters are no exception.

Long envied for getting paid to watch fixtures and mix with elite athletes and coaches, sports writers are now being forced to change the way they operate to remain relevant.

University of Canberra Assistant Professor of Sports Management Olan Scott, who has been researching the impact of social media on the sports industry, said the traditional gatekeeper role of the sports journalist has diminished.

“In the past, journalists would invest a lot of time building relationships with various teams, officials and players to gather information from these sources,” Dr Scott said.

“Now any information the clubs or athletes want their fans to know can be delivered to them via social media.

Dr Scott recently spoke about sportspeople and social media on ABC Radio Canberra, alongside former University of Canberra Capitals star Carly Wilson, and ABC sports journalist and commentator Tim Gavel.

“It builds a two-way relationship between fans and the sportspeople they follow, and that can lead to better ticket or merchandise sales. It can also expose athletes to more people, which may elicit more lucrative sponsorship deals.”

Dr Scott argued sports reporters must re-examine their role as a result of the digital revolution.

As part of his research, he has analysed the way sports journalists in China are using social media as a tool. He said a lot of the challenges faced by Chinese writers were similar to the issues facing journalists in Australia.

“Western Social media platforms are restricted in China, but as a country it still has the highest number of internet users in the world and its local social platforms, Weibo and WeChat, rank well in the top 10 for number of users,” he said.

“Some of the journalists who participated in the research told me they’ve even been directed by teams and athletes to get their information from the social media feed, rather than trying to schedule an interview.”

The adoption of social media is a reflection of the changing nature of the sports industry and the increasing need to convert fans into paying members and spectators rather than just casual consumers.

Dr Scott said when teams and players can engage directly with fans it increases their emotional investment in the club and also has the potential to boost their financial investment.

“Accessing your main supporter base directly cuts out the sports reporter ‘gatekeepers’, it short circuits their entire role,” he said.

“As in China, Australian reporters have to adapt to this disruptive technology. They need to be willing to analyse or critique team or player performances, which the club or athlete may be less likely to do themselves.

“It is crucial sports reporters draw on their accumulated knowledge to avoid the risk of becoming obsolete.”

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Analysing the water cooler: Conversation analysis of the University of Canberra Brumbies’ social media users

Analysing the water cooler: Conversation analysis of the University of Canberra Brumbies’
social media users

Olan Scott, Ann Pegoraro, Jerry Watkins

This paper describes a conversation analysis of social media activity by fans of the University of Canberra Brumbies, a professional rugby union team based in the capital of Australia. Although sport only makes up a small percentage of overall television programming, around half of all content posted to Twitter in 2013 was related to sport (Neilsen, 2014). Facebook, Instagram, blogs and other social media are also extensively used by sport organizations, athletes and consumers. Therefore it is increasingly important for sport organizations  and athletes to prioritise these platforms in their marketing, communications, public relations, and management strategies (Hambrick, Simmons, Greenhalgh, & Greenwell, 2010); as social media give these actors an unfiltered voice in an increasingly cluttered marketplace (Wallace, Wilson, & Miloch, 2011; Scott, Bruffy, & Naylor, in press).

Historically, communication between (sport) organizations and consumers was one-way through the mass media. With the advent and proliferation of social media, the media landscape has been changed like never before (Pegoraro, 2013). Social network sites (SNSs) allow individuals and organizations to “(a) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (b) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (c) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (Boyd and Ellison, 2007, p. 211). Through the creation of SNSs, the gate-keeping role of the media has diminished as organization and consumers have a vehicle they can use to disseminate an unfiltered message to their key publics (Arsenault and Castells, 2008; Scott, Bradshaw, & Larkin, 2012).

Sport fans are avid users of technology (Kelly, 2013) and express themselves and access information online using multiple devices at the same time. For example, fans may follow their team on television while using their computer, tablet, or smartphone to view real-time statistics of the game or communicate with other fans watching the same contest.  This is termed second-screen consumption and can often also include the use of SNSs such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  The popularity of second-screen viewing and simultaneous engagement through social media, justifies the incorporation of SNSs into broader marketing strategy.  Many sport fans no longer wait for the media’s post-match analysis; instead social media allows sports fans to create and share their own narrative during the game.

Social media can enhance the communication strategy of sport organizations by creating additional opportunities to connect with the sport consumer. But the substantial time and expertise required to manage successful social media activity – including rapid response to fan posting and multiplatform content moderation – can present a significant barrier for smaller sport organizations. This exploratory study will create a conceptual model for planning the desired performance of social media within the overall communication strategy of a small- to medium-scale sports organization. This model will allow identification of the ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ of social media activity within the organization’s communicative ecology (Hearn & Foth, 2007). A communicative ecology can be composed of three conceptual layers:

  • Who: the social layer of users or people, and the social modes which organise those people e.g. athletes, fans and coaches.
  • What: the discursive layer of content of communication e.g. the ideas or themes that distinguish the social interactions within the ecology.
  • How: the technological layer of enabling devices and connecting media.

Focusing on the social and discursive layers, this project will test conversation analysis (CA) software as a means to capture and analyse the structure, information content, and inter-mode relationships of sport fan communication in order to inform effective social media strategy. To date, much of the research in social media has had its focus on content analysis of social media consumer posts through content analytic methodologies on Facebook (Evans, 2010; Scott et al., 2012), Twitter (Blaszka, Burch, Frederick, Clavio, & Walsh, 2012; Frederick, Lim, Lim, Clavio, Pedersen, & Burch, 2014; Pegoraro, 2010), and blogs (Clavio & Eagleman, 2011; Kwak, Kim, & Zimmerman, 2010). The proposed study will build upon this line of research by analysing the conversations of publically available Twitter content. The MUSTT (Multiple User-defined Search Terms on Twitter) process refers to the collection of data from Twitter based upon a delineated set of key words for the purposes of academic research. This process enables researchers to extract tweets using search terms similar to the process of seeking newspaper articles from an online database (e.g., Naraine & Dixon, 2014). The MUSTT process of tweet extraction is able to provide useful information that researchers could utilize in addition to the user-generated content itself. This data will only be collected from open, public pages, constituting freely available public data.

Once data are collected using the aforementioned processes, they will be analyzed separately using manual techniques and the thematic analysis software tool, Leximancer. This is a qualitative automated tool which extracts textual data and detects key concepts that are clustered and displayed in a visual concept map (Sotiriadou, Brouwers, & Le, 2014). Given that Leximancer has been reported to be reliable in its reproducibility of results (e.g., Smith & Humphreys, 2006), as well as capable of analyzing large amounts of data (e.g., Penn-Edwards, 2010), it has gradually become more utilized in sport management research in recent years (e.g., Shilbury, 2012). Thus – with scholars indicating that social media research requires methodological enhancements (cf. Hutchins, 2014; Pedersen, 2014; Sanderson, 2014) – Leximancer was chosen to present meaningful analysis in a timely manner while also negating issues pertaining to (intercoder) reliability that a manual parsing of the data would bear.

The main outcome from this study will be a strategic communication model which forms the basis of applied research collaboration with the University of Canberra Brumbies rugby union team. Social media data collection and analysis via MUSTT and Leximancer will be supported by in-depth interviews with University of Canberra Brumbies staff marketing and social media staff, which will provide insight into the team’s existing communication strategy and the intended contribution of social media to this strategy. It is intended that the strategic communication model produced by this study will be useful to other small- to medium-scale sport organizations which seek to understand and track the social media conversations of fans.

This paper will be presented at the 2015 NASSM conference held in Ottawa, Canada

Segmentation of a professional sport team’s social media community

SEGMENTATION OF A PROFESSIONAL SPORT TEAM’S SOCIAL MEDIA COMMUNITY

 

Katherine Bruffy (Unitec Institute of Technology) kbruffy@unitec.ac.nz

Olan Scott (University of Canberra) olan.scott@canberra.edu.au

Michael Naylor (AUT) mnaylor@aut.ac.nz

Anthony Beaton (University of Canberra) anthony.beaton@canberra.edu.au

The relationship people have with sport teams ranges from the very casual (those who might view parts of matches on television when their schedule suits) to being an avid fan and organising one’s life around the activities of the team. The varying strength of this connectedness has been captured in Funk and James’ Psychological Continuum Model (PCM; 2001).  Four stages of increasingly deep connection were proposed (Awareness, Attraction, Attachment and Allegiance), and have now been explored thoroughly with Beaton and Funk (2009) developing an algorithm that relies on facets of the involvement construct (Beaton, Funk, Ridinger & Jordan, 2011) as a staging mechanism for placement along the PCM.

One way in which sport fans now connect to the teams they follow is through social media.  With the proliferation of social media, consumers are able to connect to teams more easily and more often. As early adopters of social media, organisations within the sports industry have embedded social media into marketing (Eagleman, 2013), communication (Thompson, 2013), and public relations (Sanderson, 2010) mix.  The purpose of the current research is to explore a professional sport team’s social media community and segment based on connectivity.

Data (n = 311) for the study were collected online over several days during the second half of the New Zealand Breakers’ most recent ANBL season. The sample was predominantly female (58%) and the mean age was 36.  Most respondents reported using Facebook (98%) and Twitter (42%) at least once a week, while a significant majority of respondents (77%) reported engaging with the Breakers’ social networking sites at least “a few times per week”.  Exploring the underlying psychology and behaviours of a professional sport team’s social media community using the PCM and involvement construct represents an important contribution to sport management literature.  In addition to questions that generated the above demographic and behavioural profile, individuals were also asked to respond to questionnaire items designed to measure the involvement construct (Beaton, et al., 2011) and resistance to change (Pritchard, Havitz & Howard, 1999).  The involvement construct dimensions (Hedonic Value, Centrality, Symbolic Value) and resistance to change were measured with three items each.  These items were included so that data could be fed into the staging algorithm that was to be used in subsequent analysis.

A larger than expected segment (40%) of those within the Breakers’ social media community who completed the questionnaire were placed within the Attraction stage of the PCM.  This finding has significant implications for those working to enhance the depth of the relationship between a professional sport team and its fans.  Indeed, important processes like attitude strengthening and the development of relationship meaning are believed to be ongoing at this stage so social media can be used to nurture that growth.  Less than 15% of questionnaire respondents were placed in the Allegiance stage.  These findings may help to dispel the myth that social media is nothing more than an additional means to connect with already deeply loyal and identified fans.

Why I #Movember

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Why I Movember

For the past four years, I have taken part in Movember, which is a charitable initiative in which men grow moustaches and raise money during this campaign. The Movember campaign seeks to raise awareness for health issues facing men, such as testicular cancer and depression. You can read more about Movember’s mission, vision, and values here: http://au.movember.com/about/vision-goals

I have a deeply personal reason for doing Movember and that is that my family suffered dearly as a result of my father’s life-long battles with depression after serving with the Canadian Armed Forces in the Korean War. We now know this more commonly as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but this was not a common phrase in the 1960s to 1990s.

Through his depression, my father also had a dependence on alcohol and our family suffered because of it. Truth be told, I’ve never seen him have a drink in my life. He wasn’t an everyday drinker or even an occasional drinker; he was a binger whereby he’d go out for a few days and binge, then sober up and come back home like nothing had happened. This binging obviously put strain on our family, as mom had to make alternate arrangements for her children’s caretaker when he wasn’t around and she was working in the evenings. It also impacted the family in that my father missed some family events over the years, so our family photos are incomplete because he wasn’t there.

My father died in 1998 and I often wonder, what if? What if he didn’t drink, would he still be alive? Would he have attended my university graduations (I’ve had four)? Would he have walked my sister down the aisle at her wedding? There are a myriad of other ‘what if’ questions that I could type, but won’t.  I, obviously, will never know the answer to these (and all other) questions, but it’s something that I never want my family, friends, colleagues, and anyone else to ask about me. What if Olan didn’t drink, would he have (been to this event with us, gone for an early surf with us, been fit for life, supported us, and anything you can think of)?

This is why I do Movember annually and will continue to do so. Many men go unchecked for health issues for a myriad of reasons and my goal is to raise money for Movember so resources and programmes can be put in place to help me with their health issues. After reading this, if you feel compelled to donate to my Movember endeavour, click here http://mobro.co/scottolan to donate.

Thanks for reading, Olan

About Movember’s mental health initiatives

AUSTRALIAN MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVE

In October 2014, the Movember Foundation announced the largest ever non-government investment in men’s mental health in Australia, allocating $22.3 million to fund programs to help change the face of men’s health. The Australian Mental Health Initiative will bring together teams from across sectors and around the country to collaborate on projects that focus on keeping men and boys mentally healthy in the community and workplace, encouraging those with a mental health problem to take action early and reducing the stigma associated with mental health.