Title: Social Sochi: using social network analysis to investigate electronic word-of-mouth transmitted through social media communities

Authors: Marion E. Hambrick; Ann Pegoraro

Addresses: Department of Health and Sport Sciences, University of Louisville, HP/Studio Arts Room 104 Louisville, KY 40292, USA ' Faculty of Management, School of Sports Administration, Laurentian University, 935 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury ON P3E 2S2, Canada

Abstract: The 2012 London Summer Games earned the nickname 'the Twitter Olympics' for the social media coverage of the mega-event (Whiteside, 2014), and the 2014 Sochi Winter Games witnessed a marked increase in this activity. This study examined social media communities formed during the 2014 Olympic Games. Employing the word-of-mouth (WOM) conceptual framework and social network analysis (SNA), the study examined three social media communities within Twitter - #WeAreWinter, #CheersToSochiand #SochiProblems - and messages posted from February 7-25, 2014, incorporating one of the three hash tags. The findings revealed communities first characterised by spikes in growth often coinciding with viral posts, and later by eventual network decay as the Olympic Games concluded. The most viral messages contained either celebratory information or satirical content. Additionally, key users emerged in each community, most frequently individuals rather than corporate entities and media outlets. Theoretical and practical implications will be discussed.

Keywords: social network analysis; SNA; Olympic Games; word-of-mouth; e-WOM; hash tags; Twitter; Sochi Winter Oympics; social media communities; viral posts; network decay; key users.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2014.072005

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2014 Vol.15 No.3/4, pp.120 - 140

Received: 15 Aug 2014
Accepted: 12 Feb 2015

Published online: 28 Sep 2015 *

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