The relationship between the use of social networking sites and student spectator behaviour: A case of university sport in the Western Cape
Phillips, Kirby Krystle
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Social networking sites are important communication tools used in different industries including the sports industry. Professional athletes, coaches, spectators, journalists, and broadcasters from nearly every sports code maintain a social media presence. The rapid growth in the use of social networks in sport and the challenging economic climate launched an urgent need for sport administration departments at universities to understand SNSs and how student spectators use these sites in the realm of university sport. This understanding serves as an attempt to enhance spectator attendance at university sports games through the use of SNSs by integrating these sites into marketing strategies. Sports spectators are key constituents of sports event attendance, however, little is known regarding whether a relationship exists between students’ activities on SNSs and their spectator behaviour. Subsequently, the purpose of this study was to examine and describe the relationship between the use of SNSs and student spectator behaviour in university sport by considering attendance, loyalty, trust, and commitment as determinants of behaviour. A quantitative methodological approach was adopted to collect data, using a cross-sectional research design. By applying a random sampling method, 540 full-time registered university students provided consent to participate in this study. An online survey was distributed to the entire student population, N=24000. All significance levels were set at p<0.05. Data were analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) V.25 software. Results showed statistical significance, p<0.00, for the relationship between the use of SNSs and student spectator behaviour during student spectator attendance of university sports games. No statistical significance was found in the relationship between the use of SNSs and student spectator behaviour before and after student spectator attendance of university sports games. These results suggest that greater investment should be placed in marketing through SNSs in order to develop, increase, and retain longstanding relationships of loyalty, trust, and commitment with student spectators in the fast-growing segment of social media and spectatorship.