A study of the effect of Pseudo-Professional Social Media on the motivation of student Rugby players and fans
Social media has become an increasingly important part of our everyday lives. Accessible and economically viable, it has become an avenue for companies to promote themselves to a massive audience. This includes professional sports teams and athletes, who use social media to attract and communicate with mass audiences of fans. Social media is also employed by student teams to raise their profile, recruit members and promote fixtures and events. The Queen Margaret University Men’s Rugby team uses pseudo-professional social media (PPSM), a social media strategy which revolves around the imitation of professional Rugby teams, to promote themselves and their players. The aim of this research is to discover the effect that PPSM has on the motivation of student Rugby players and fans. A mixed-methods study was conducted, which involved a focus group of QMU Men’s Rugby players and an online survey of QMU Men’s Rugby fans to collect qualitative and quantitative data on both subject groups. The data from the survey was compared to various academic sources on the subject in order to draw meaning from it. The research found that PPSM caused student Rugby players to be more motivated for matches. It was also found to positively affect other factors, including mental preparation and confidence. While PPSM was not found to directly affect the motivation of student Rugby fans, who were primarily motivated by a desire to support their friends, it was found to help increase awareness of fixtures and increase match attendance as a result. The results of the research were satisfying to the researcher, who believes that this study could provide a framework for student teams to better utilise their social media platforms and provide social media education for their players. The study could also be progressed to a professional level to investigate how professional athletes are affected by their teams’ social media platforms.