The Influence of Social Networks on E-Reputation: How Sportspersons Manage the Relationship with Their Online Community

The Influence of Social Networks on E-Reputation: How Sportspersons Manage the Relationship with Their Online Community

Sylvaine Castellano (ESG Management School, Paris, France), Insaf Khelladi (ICN Business School, Nancy, France), Amélie Chipaux (ESG Management School, Paris, France) and Célia Kupferminc (ESG Management School, Paris, France)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/ijthi.2014100105
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Abstract

With the increased importance of the Internet and the use of social media, new opportunities and challenges emerge to manage the relationship with audiences and online communities. While the professional world already acknowledged such dynamics, further analysis is needed in the academic scene. A survey conducted in the sports setting shows that the perception of social networks influences athletes' e-reputation. However, the motives for following athletes online have no influence on their e-reputation. Finally, the results highlight that e-reputation is not affected by negative content on the internet. This research has both academic and managerial contributions regarding online reputation and social media.
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Introduction

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. - Warren Buffet

During the 2012 London Olympic Games, several athletes were banned from the competition because of their misbehavior on the Internet. On another note, soccer players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka respectively have 15 and 14 million followers on Twitter. The tennis player Rafael Nadal has 3.6 million followers and the sprinter Usain Bolt has 2.5 million. The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson is the third most tweeted event after the reelection of Barack Obama and the resignation of Pope Benedict. Sport events do not only occur on stadiums but also on the virtual sphere. While athletes represent real business opportunities – sponsorship agreement can reach tens of millions of dollars – a video on Youtube, a picture on Facebook or a tweet can ruin the reputation of such sportspersons. However, one still can wonder whether or not what athletes say online influences their e-reputation1.

So far, few studies have analyzed the concept of e-reputation (Chun & Davies, 2001), and fewer articles have investigated the extent to which social media influence the reputation online (Castellano & Dutot, 2013). Hence, it seems crucial to understand the perception of fans regarding the online reputation of their favorite athletes and how such sportspersons manage their relationship with their community through social media in general and social networks more specifically. The aim of this study is twofold: (1) investigate the perception of online communities of sportspersons’ e-reputation, and (2) understand the factors that might affect such perception. Therefore our research question is: Which factors influence the perception of athletes’ e- reputation?

Hereafter, we briefly present the theoretical background and the empirical setting. Then, we display and discuss the main finding of a study conducted in the French context. We conclude with the contributions, limits and avenues for future research.

Theoretical Background

In order to better understand e-reputation and its perception on social networks, we first need to define these terms. Such concepts have been widely used in the professional world. However, clarification is needed on academic level.

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