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Managing brand presence through social media: the case of UK football clubs

Jeff McCarthy (Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Jennifer Rowley (Information and Communications, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Catherine Jane Ashworth (Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Elke Pioch (Business School, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 1 April 2014




The purpose of this paper is to contribute knowledge on the issues and benefits associated with managing brand presence and relationships through social media. UK football clubs are big businesses, with committed communities of fans, so are an ideal context from which to develop an understanding of the issues and challenges facing organisations as they seek to protect and promote their brand online.


Due to the emergent nature of social media, and the criticality of the relationships between clubs and their fans, an exploratory study using a multiple case study approach was used to gather rich insights into the phenomenon.


Clubs agreed that further development of social media strategies had potential to deliver interaction and engagement, community growth and belonging, traffic flow to official web sites and commercial gain. However, in developing their social media strategies they had two key concerns. The first concern was the control of the brand presence and image in social media, and how to respond to the opportunities that social media present to fans to impact on the brand. The second concern was how to strike an appropriate balance between strategies that deliver short-term revenue, and those that build longer term brand loyalty.


This research is the first to offer insights into the issues facing organisations when developing their social media strategy.



McCarthy, J., Rowley, J., Jane Ashworth, C. and Pioch, E. (2014), "Managing brand presence through social media: the case of UK football clubs", Internet Research, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 181-204.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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