Title: Activating a global sport sponsorship with social media: an analysis of TOP sponsors, Twitter, and the 2014 Olympic Games

Authors: Gashaw Abeza; Ann Pegoraro; Michael L. Naraine; Benoît Séguin; Norm O'Reilly

Addresses: School of Human Kinetics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, MNT418a, 125 University, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada ' School of Sports Administration, Laurentian University, 935 Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, ON, P3E 2C6, Canada ' Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, MNT419a, 125 University, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada ' Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, MNT365, 125 University, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6N5, Canada ' Department of Sports Administration, College of Business, Ohio University, 1 Ohio University, Athens, OH, 45701, USA

Abstract: This research explored the use of Twitter for sponsorship activation by the The Olympic Program (TOP) sponsors during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Using NCapture, a total of 7,519 tweets and retweets of all ten TOP sponsors around the Games were captured from the 1st of January (pre-Olympic) to the 3rd of April, 2014 (post-Olympic). The data were analysed with the aid of Leximancer analytics software. Results show that there is no regular pattern of Twitter use for activation that was identifiable amongst the TOP sponsors; all were found adopting different strategic approaches. Notably, the TOP sponsors differ in terms of the number and types of tweets they produced, retweets they broadcasted, hashtags they rerun, and the registered growth of their followers from pre-games to post-games. The results also show three possible sponsorship objectives communicated by TOP sponsors, namely promotion (of services, products, and companys image), customer appreciation, and athletes encouragement. Potential theoretical and practical implications will be discussed, including suggestions for future research. The work encourages continued investigation.

Keywords: Sochi Winter Olympics; activation; social networking sites; SNSs; Leximancer; 2014 Olympic Games; global sponsorship; sport sponsorship; social media; Twitter usage; sponsor communication; promotion; customer appreciation; athletes encouragement; sponsors.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2014.072010

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2014 Vol.15 No.3/4, pp.184 - 213

Available online: 28 Sep 2015 *

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