Due to its rapid growth as a site of sports fan conversation, the recent scholarly focus on the Twitter microblog platform as both a research method and an object of study has sparked considerable debate. Partly in response to this debate, this paper seeks to highlight the importance of cross-platform research design in order to generate insight into the identity of online fans and the meaning of their conversations. The site of investigation is the 2014 Spring Tour of the Qantas Wallabies, the national rugby union team of Australia. This tour was an indicator of national team performance in the lead-up to the 2015 Rugby Union World Cup and was anticipated to generate significant levels of online conversation between rugby union fans – but not from the wider national audiences usually attracted by a World Cup fixture. Rugby union is distinctive in that many of its fans are located within comparatively high-income earning brackets and can be anticipated to engage in simultaneous TV viewing of a fixture whilst interacting with other fans via smart devices and social media – so-called second-screen behaviour. Two research questions are posed: (1) does fan conversation differ by platform; and (2) is there a discernible difference between fan conversation on formal hashtags vs. informal conversation (Twitter only)? In response to these questions, the Ireland vs. Australia match on 21 November 2014 was chosen for in-depth analysis by this study as it returned the largest sample of Twitter data during the 2014 Spring Tour. Findings indicate (1) a marked difference between fan conversation on Twitter (unidirectional) and Facebook (debate-oriented); and (2) that Irish fans tweeted more about their team outside of the formal game hashtag than Australian fans – demonstrating that informal conversation on Twitter produced an identifiable theme related to fandom for one team over another.
|Title of host publication||Refereed proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association conference: Rethinking communication, space and identity|
|Editors||David Paterno, Michael Bourk, Donald Matheson|
|Place of Publication||Australia|
|Publisher||Australian and New Zealand Communication Association|
|Number of pages||12|
|Publication status||Published - 2015|
|Event||The Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference: Rethinking Communication, Space and Identity - Queenstown, Queenstown, New Zealand|
Duration: 8 Jul 2015 → 10 Jul 2015
|Conference||The Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference: Rethinking Communication, Space and Identity|
|Period||8/07/15 → 10/07/15|
WATKINS, J., Pegoraro, A., & SCOTT, O. (2015). “My feckin heart!!”. In D. Paterno, M. Bourk, & D. Matheson (Eds.), Refereed proceedings of the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association conference: Rethinking communication, space and identity (pp. 1-12). Australia: Australian and New Zealand Communication Association.