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Twitter and Olympics: Exploring factors which impact fans following American Olympic Governing Bodies

Bo Li (Department of Kinesiology, St Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa, USA)
Olan K.M. Scott (Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada)
Stephen W. Dittmore (Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA)

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship

ISSN: 1464-6668

Article publication date: 31 May 2018

Issue publication date: 12 October 2018




The purpose of this paper is to examine how Olympic audiences utilized Twitter to follow American National Governing Bodies (NGBs) during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.


Guided by economic demand theory, the researchers sought to explore whether factors such as the content of social media messages, athlete’s performance, event presentation, scheduling, and TV broadcasting contribute to enhancing fans’ interests in following NGBs on Twitter during the Olympic Games. In total, 33 American NGB Twitter accounts formed the data set for this study. Each of NGBs’ Twitter data was collected every night at midnight from August 7 to 23, 2016. Data collected from each NGB account included number of followers, number of accounts followed, number of tweets, and number of “likes.”


Results of this study revealed that team’s performance and the number of tweets had direct and positive relationships with increasing the number of NGB’s Twitter followers on each competition day. The number of “likes,” however, had a significant negative relationship with fans’ interests in following NGBs’ Twitter.


The results of the study are expected to help Governing Bodies in the Olympic sports have a better understanding of fans’ social media usage.



Li, B., Scott, O.K.M. and Dittmore, S.W. (2018), "Twitter and Olympics: Exploring factors which impact fans following American Olympic Governing Bodies", International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 370-383.



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