Strategic Value Co-creation on Social Media in Semi-professional Sports Clubs

  • Ryan Bell

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Social media has emerged as an important marketing channel for sports clubs. The overall aim of this research study is to investigate social media application in semiprofessional sports clubs (SSCs) to evaluate how value co-creation can be facilitated between a club and its fans. The research investigates both SSC and fan perspectives to evaluate how value is cocreated between both, and how social media can be utilised to facilitate value cocreation. Literature was reviewed to illustrate the context of this research, and to identify key characteristics of clubs that impact on their utilisation of social media. Relevant marketing literature was reviewed to identify the role of social media in SSC marketing, to provide an understanding of value co-creation in this context. The study consisted of eight cases conducted with teams from the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL). Within each case in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with fans of the club to evaluate value from their perspective. In-depth semi-structured interviews were also conducted with social media managers or the volunteers responsible for social media within the club, to gain insights into the perspective of SSCs on value they experience through social media application. Data was analysed and presented, with cross-case comparisons drawn. This research builds upon value co-creation theory in the context of SSCs. Value is co-created on social media between SSCs and fans through fan engagement with content. Facilitating this engagement is vital in overcoming resource limitations at a practical level. Fans undergo a decision making process in relation to engaging with content on social media. Three forms of motivation within this process were identified. These were self-interest, altruism, and cooperation. A strategic framework was developed from the findings of this study which identifies the barriers and value for club and fans. The framework highlights conditions SSCs need to meet with their social media content to facilitate engagement with fans, so that mutual value emerges. Additionally, it was discovered that varying levels of behavioural loyalty in SSC fans does not impact upon the likelihood of engagement with content. Therefore, this research develops knowledge regarding fans of SSCs’ use of social media.
Date of AwardDec 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAudrey Gilmore (Supervisor) & Damian Gallagher (Supervisor)


  • Marketing
  • Sports Marketing
  • Sports Management
  • Business Management
  • Sport Development

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