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Sports marketing is one of the fastest growing areas of marketing communication.The international nature of the sport industry requires a global approach to sport marketing practices. Organisations need to develop a good understanding of the laws, regulations, values and norms of the countries and cultures in which they operate.Marketing the Sports Organisation introduces the most effective marketing methods and tools available to sports organizations, and offers practical, step-by-step advice for sports organizations in the use of social media marketing techniques.The growth in the revenue of the sports market worldwide has been increasing for the most part over the last decade. According to a study by Statista (2015), the total revenue of the global sports market was $107.52 billion in the year 2006 and it has increased to $145.34 billion in 2015; as seen in figure 1 on the next page. The year 2014 was the highest revenue grossing year in the sports market with $146.47 billion in the last decade; while the year 2009 recorded the lowest which was $112.49 billion.
The amount of money that is being generated in the sports industry is at its peak right now. Sponsorships, gate revenues, media rights and merchandising contribute to the growth of the sports market in a big way.
Sport teams that operate in an increasingly professionalized environment must keep adopting innovative branding techniques in order to maintain their brand image as both significant and unique from a consumer perspective and to differentiate it from competitors (Kaynak, Salman, & Tatoglu, 2008). Most professional sport teams now maintain an online presence on several social media platforms and increasingly expand to new ones.Social media practices for sport organizations have mostly attentive on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (Abeza, O’Reilly, Seguin, & Nzindukiyimana, 2015); while these platforms offer features for visual content interaction, they rely heavily on written content as the main communication medium for online users.
Only recently have researchers started to explore the implications of tools that use visual content as their primary mode of communication. For instance, Hambrick andprofessional sport teams have established the extensive assumption of social media platforms (Filo, Lock, & Karg, 2015; Pegoraro & Jinnah, 2012), in an effort to nurture and maintain a way of interactive communication with their fan(Clavio &Walsh, 2014; Hambrick & Kang, 2015; Hambrick, Simmons,Greenhalgh, & Greenwell, 2010; Kassing & Sanderson, 2010; Parganas & Anagnostopoulos,2015; Pegoraro, 2010; Pronschinske, Groza, &Walker, 2012; Stavros, Meng, Westberg, & Farrelly, 2014; Williams & Chinn, 2010). Kang (2015) explored Pinterest (a media content sharing tool) under the lens of a relationship-marketing conceptual framework. Others have investigated how sport leagues can use Social media for agenda-setting purposes (Zimmerman, Clavio, & Lim, 2011).
However, less is known about the use of social media tools such as Instagram for building and communicating team brand associations. Some studies have examined the use of Facebook as a brand management tool in the context of US college athletics (Wallace,Wilson, & Miloch, 2011), the challenges in developing a social media branding strategy(McCarthy, Rowley, Ashworth, & Pioch, 2014), or the use of Twitter as a brand management tool (Parganas, Anagnostopoulos, & Chadwick, 2015) in the context of professional football teams. Studies examining Recent studies have examined how Instagram can be used for engaging fans for sporting, business as well as social objectives (Kim & Hull, 2017); as a self-presentation tool by Olympic athletes specifically (Geurin-Eagleman & Burch, 2016), or by professional athletes more generally (Smith & Sanderson, 2015).
More in relation to the present study, yet outside the professional teams’ context, Geurin-Eagleman and Burch (2016) found that sport brands that utilise user-generated content on their Instagram accounts elicit higher engagement from followers when posts have an overt focus on the product.Further research is required, particularly from a professional sport team-branding perspective. In addition, the increased popularity of Instagram among sport teams, athletes and fans, combined with its potential marketing and branding implications as they mature (Geurin-Eagleman & Burch, 2016), merits further exploration of this tool in the sport context. Several scholars have called for additional empirical research across different social media platforms (cf., Frederick, Lim, Clavio, Pedersen, & Burch, 2014; Lebel & Danylchuk, 2014; Pedersen, 2014; Pronschinske et al., 2012; Rowe, 2014), particularly for marketing purposes and through longitudinal studies (Abeza et al., 2015), and crucially, investigations of social media consumer behaviour(Ratchford, 2015).
The present study answers these calls. Drawing theoretical insights from widely Adopted sport team-branding models (e.g. Bauer, Stockburger-Sauer, & Exler, 2008; Gladden & Funk, 2002; Ross, James, & Vargas, 2006), we aim to analyze how two professional sport teams have used Instagram to communicate their brand image and its impact on the responses of their online following.The present study answers these calls. Drawing theoretical insights from widelyadopted sport team-branding models (e.g. Bauer, Stockburger-Sauer, & Exler, 2008;Gladden & Funk, 2002; Ross, James, & Vargas, 2006), we aim to analyse how two professionalsport teams have used Instagram to communicate their brand image and itsimpact on the responses of their online following.
The present study starts to fill a gap in the literature about how sport organizations make use of social networks as branding tools. Overall, this study has highlighted the evolving use of Instagram by sport teams to provide brand-related information and interaction with fans. Results revealed that the existing team brand literature can be applied in the social media context. In particular, all brand attributes of the adopted model were part of Instagram posts, albeit to a different extent. Teams using Instagram are able to produce and control their own news and stories and should recognize the importance of giving fans insights about their organizations, whether in the form of player/team news developments or information and activities beyond the playing field. Instagram (and all other social media channels) is capable of giving fans a more active role, either through the Comment feature or by sharing photos provided by fans through the official team’s channels. Fans recognize value in these transactions, and they subsequently engage by expressing their love (‘loving’), hopes and expectations (‘aspiring’), need for belongingness to the team (‘belonging’), but also their concerns (‘criticizing’) about organizational behavior (on and off the field). Therefore, we envisage that the insights of the present study will provide a much-needed access point into the discussions on brand management enhancement through social media in the context of professional team sports.
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.With all these reasons, one can only think that sports marketing will be very good for the brand for exposure. Yes, I do agree that this will be a very good platform to reach out to a larger audience, however, without proper research and finding out the needs of your target audience, it would do more harm than good to your company.For example, in 2016, Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney was acting in a trailer for the latest X-Men film. The campaign was a failure, and the only thing it did was made many Manchester United fans upset as they felt that football was turning into a brand and not a sport.To conclude, with the right idea and execution, sports marketing can help a brand get onto another level and gain recognition. Knowing exactly what the fans want and how their products or services can help the fans will certainly go a long way than just spending money and pray that people will be attracted to the brand.
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