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Managing celebrity via impression management on social network sites: An exploratory study of NBA celebrity athletes

Kwame J.A. Agyemang (School of Kinesiology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Antonio S. Williams (Department of Kinesiology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA )

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 12 September 2016




Central to the celebrity creation process is mass media communication and impression management (IM) behaviors of social actors. The emergence of social network sites (SNSs) such as Twitter offers a platform for social actors to engage both of these means in efforts to manage their celebrity. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of how celebrity athletes manage their celebrity status by investigating IM tactics employed by National Basketball Association (NBA) celebrities on Twitter.


A content analytic design was employed to examine the Twitter posts of the top ten most popular and influential NBA celebrity athletes (past and present) at the time of tweet acquisition.


The findings revealed the celebrity athletes used a variety of IM tactics to manage their celebrity. Defensive IM tactics (i.e. reactive measures taken) were used sparingly when compared to offensive IM tactics (i.e. proactive measures taken). Also, consistent with extant IM literature, the celebrity athletes utilized IM tactics in isolation as well as in combination.

Practical implications

The extant literature suggests that celebrities cultivate their relationships with the various media outlets with the potential to create (or even damage) one’s celebrity. This study offers celebrity athletes and their managers with useful insight on celebrity management.


This study is the first to examine IM in a sport business context, particularly the use of IM of athletes on SNSs.



Agyemang, K.J.A. and S. Williams, A. (2016), "Managing celebrity via impression management on social network sites: An exploratory study of NBA celebrity athletes", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 6 No. 4, pp. 440-459.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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