Title: 'It's incredible – trust me': exploring the role of celebrity athletes as marketers in online social networks

Authors: Marion E. Hambrick; Tara Q. Mahoney

Addresses: Health and Sport Sciences, University of Louisville, HP/Studio Arts Room 104, Louisville, KY 40292, USA. ' Health and Sport Sciences, University of Louisville, HP/Studio Arts Room 110, Louisville, KY 40292, USA

Abstract: Sport marketers have acknowledged the popularity of online social networks, but have struggled with transforming them into viable revenue generators. Using celebrity athletes to promote products via online social networks such as Twitter may represent one potential revenue opportunity. This study examined how Lance Armstrong and Serena Williams used Twitter for promotional purposes and utilised content analysis to analyse their combined 7,202 Twitter messages. The celebrity athletes wrote promotional messages 12% of the time, primarily to promote their corporate sponsors and products, charitable organisations and personal activities. Twitter represents a unique marketing resource and communication channel for celebrity athlete product endorsements.

Keywords: celebrity athletes; celebrities; social media; internet; world wide web; social networking; mobile phones; cell phones; mobile technologies; online social networks; product endorsements; Twitter; sport marketers; revenue generators; product promotion; revenue opportunities; Lance Armstrong; Serena Williams; road racing; professional cyclists; cycling; tennis players; content analysis; promotional messages; corporate sponsors; charitable organisations; charities; personal activities; marketing resources; communication channels; sport management; sport marketing; emerging technologies.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2011.044794

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2011 Vol.10 No.3/4, pp.161 - 179

Received: 01 Mar 2011
Accepted: 23 Aug 2011

Published online: 09 Jan 2012 *

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