Nav: Home

No long-term 'star effect' for baseball teams on Twitter

June 08, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. - In previous generations, when professional sports franchises had athletes who were considered to be all-star caliber on their teams, those teams would experience a "star effect," which would result in long-term increases in publicity, fan interest, and merchandise and ticket sales. Now, University of Missouri researchers have analyzed the Twitter usage of Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, athletes and fans and discovered that the "star effect" had no long-term impacts on MLB teams' Twitter following and fan engagement. Nicholas Watanabe, an assistant teaching professor in the MU Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, says this is important for professional sports franchises that are looking for ways to improve fan engagement and expand their brand reach.

"Economically, sports franchises grow by increasing fan engagement, which ultimately leads to increased television revenues and merchandise and ticket sales," Watanabe said. "In the past, teams could earn boosts in fan engagement by acquiring star athletes, through trades, free agent signings or by developing them internally; these boosts would last for several seasons, or as long as star players remained productive on those teams. In the current generation, it appears that this 'star effect' doesn't translate to social media, so teams will need to find alternative strategies to building fan engagement other than acquiring high-profile athletes."

For the study, Watanabe and coauthor Grace Yan, an assistant teaching professor at MU, analyzed data from the Twitter accounts of all MLB teams and every player who played in 40 or more games from July 2013 through June 2014. They found that MLB teams did experience small short-term boosts in their Twitter followings after acquiring star players, but that those boosts did not last long.

"In the current social media age, athletes are able to build their own followings and develop their own brands outside of their teams," Yan said. "Fans may follow specific athletes they like without caring much about the specific teams for which they play. It is much more effective and important for teams to connect with fans directly, engage with them and promote conversation on Twitter among fans themselves. We found that this is a much more effective strategy for maintaining and growing fan and consumer bases on social media."

"Interaction with fans matters," Watanabe said. "It is smart for MLB teams to promote their new star players in the short-term, as they can bring in new fans attracted by the high profile-names. However, in order to keep those new fans engaged, teams need to work hard to interact and foster communities with those people. If teams do that, they can create tight-knit and profitable fan bases. Otherwise, those Twitter followers may move on to the next exciting thing."

While the MLB is unique due to how many games are played each season, Watanabe and Yan believe these findings can be applied in some capacity to other professional sports teams as well. The study "Consumer Interest in Major League Baseball: An Analytical Modeling of Twitter" recently was published in the Journal of Sport Management. Brian Soebbing, an assistant professor at Temple University, was a coauthor of the study. The MU Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism is housed in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Social Media Articles:

Social media use by adolescents linked to internalizing behaviors
A new study from researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media are more likely to report high levels of internalizing behaviors compared to adolescents who do not use social media at all.
Social media stress can lead to social media addiction
Social network users risk becoming more and more addicted to social media platforms even as they experience stress from their use.
Many post on social media under the influence of drugs -- and regret it
Posting on social media, texting, and appearing in photos while high is prevalent among people who use drugs--and many regret these behaviors, according to a study by the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research (CDUHR) at NYU College of Global Public Health.
'Fake news,' diminishing media trust and the role of social media
Exploring the perception of the 'fake news' phenomenon is critical to combating the ongoing global erosion of trust in the media according to a study co-authored by a University of Houston researcher.
How gender inequality is reproduced on social media
Researchers from Higher School of Economics analyzed 62 million public posts on the most popular Russian social networking site VK and found that both men and women mention sons more often than daughters.
More Social Media News and Social Media Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...