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NEWS

07/28/2015
A new method of analysing social media effectiveness in sports sponsorship is required according to recent research. The findings show that current testing of Twitter messages tends to miss a significant portion of sponsor impact.

The study, led by Dr. Ricard W. Jensen and Dr. Yam B. Limbu of Montclair State University, USA and Mr. Yasha Spong of zample, published in the International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, demonstrates the importance of including sponsors’ images in research and analyses a new technique for achieving this.

The research analysed tweets by fans of FC Barcelona and Juventus in the week surrounding the 2015 UEFA Champions League Final.

Jensen and Limbu conducted the study in conjunction with zample, a high-tech Twitter marketing firm based in Sunnyvale, California.

The focus of the study was to test zample’s system of measuring Twitter conversations, in this case using the exposure of the corporate shirt sponsors of soccer clubs as the test platform.

While most analysis of Twitter conversations to-date has focused on analysing the text or content of words that are tweeted, these methods may be unlikely to capture conversations about brands. In other words, fans may be unlikely to tweet text about a football club’s sponsor. The concept behind this study approaches the study of Twitter conversations about brands in an entirely new light; it proposes that studying the images that fans tweet can provide a much better measure about the effectiveness of sponsorship. The guiding principle is that fans often tweet photos of players wearing the club jersey where the corporate shirt sponsor is prominently displayed; therefore, the tweets of images that present brand logos should increase brand awareness.

Data for this study were provided by from zample, which developed a state-of-the-art method to identify the images of corporate sponsors that are sent by Twitter. Data provided by zample include the number of tweets with sponsor images that were retweeted and favorited during the week of the tournament and the hashtags that were most often used. The results provide several interesting insights. Tweets about FC Barcelona were retweeted and favorited more than tweets about Juventus in the days immediately following the match. Qatar Airways (the sponsor of FC Barcelona) seems to have been more successful in engaging fans than Jeep (the sponsor of Juventus). Fans of Juventus were more likely to send tweets with hashtags related to their sponsor (Jeep), perhaps in part because the owner of Juventus also owns the parent company of Jeep.

Jensen suggests that this type of study is fascinating from a research point of view for several reasons: “With the huge increase in marketing sports through Twitter and social media there is a need to find measures to assess the impact of sponsorship campaigns. This study suggests that perhaps we have been measuring Twitter sports sponsorship using the wrong metrics: we feel that examining images that are tweeted provide a much better estimate of the reach of Twitter marketing than using sentiment analysis to look into the words that are tweeted. This type of analysis may be extremely valuable for sports sponsors who need to know the results Twitter is creating for them, and it may benefit sports clubs and organizations because it will provide them with Twitter data needed to set the best price on sponsorships.”

In the future, Jensen and Limbu hope to work with Spong on other studies and extend this line of research by studying other aspects of the use of visual analytics in Twitter sports marketing.

More information: International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

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