The increasing popularity of Twitter has had a major effect on the relationship between sports fans and their favorite athletes. Fans can personalize tweets towards specific players on their beloved teams and players can reach out to their die-hard fans. A more intimate relationship now exists between player and fan because of Twitter.
Timothy De Block, a Houston Astros blogger for Crawfish Boxes, recently took a closer look at this growing social media relationship. De Block documented and categorized the tweets of ten Astros: Brian Bogusevic, Jason Castro, Jason Bougeois, Chris Johnson, Jordan Lyles, J.D. Martinez, Bud Norris, Jordan Schafer, J.B. Shuck and Brett Wallace. Working backwards from tweets starting in February 2012, De Block categorized tweets by their function and the actual subject of the content.
The results of the study showed that the main function of Astros tweets was to mention someone else and the next most popular function was for social reasons. In analyzing the subject of the tweets De Block found that fan and acquaintance interaction accounted for over half of the tweets created by these ten Astros players. Overall, the results were somewhat predictable. The Astros players were tweeting for interaction purposes.
Some limitations of De Block’s study are that he only analyzed a small sample size of Astros players, which is not a representation of the entire MLB. Additionally, the tweets that were analyzed were not done during the MLB regular season. While aspects from this study could certainly be tweaked and reviewed over a longer period of time, there is still lots of information from the data.
The study proved to be very thought-provoking and will open the door for more thorough studies about the influence of Twitter in clubhouses around professional baseball. Hopefully someone with the proper resources and research background will be able to do a full scale study that follows more teams and more tweets that are done during the actual season.
It will definitely be interesting going forward to see how Twitter continues to impact a fans experience with their favorite team and players during the baseball season. Many comparisons and case studies can be made with all of the different teams and different personalities of each team.
One would have to assume that the Twitter use of ten players on the Red Sox would vary greatly from the ten players on the Astros in De Block’s study. It would also be interesting to analyze which players have the most Twitter followers and why that’s the case. Analyzing the monetary advantages of Twitter usage is also going to be in high demand in the near future. Studies like this can also be used to see if the teams who use Twitter the most have higher percentages of fan interaction and ballpark attendance.
There are countless aspects of Twitter usage in the MLB to analyze and De Block’s idea should be used as a platform to begin more research about the effects of a Twitter interaction between fans and players.