Why Zlatan Ibrahimović is Bigger Than Manchester United: Investigating Digital Traces in Co-branding Processes on Social Media Platforms

AbstractThe purpose of this study is to examine the co-branding activity on social media platforms, particularly in regard to company-employee relationship. We conducted a case study of co-branding on Instagram involving the soccer club Manchester United and the soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimović. We performed sentiment and emotional tone analysis, assessed intersection of the audience and illustrated non-verbal communication used by social media users. We demonstrated how the soccer club failed to capitalize on co-branding activity as measured through consolidating the audience, generating consistent emotional response, and creating a coherent message. This paper contributes to social media management research by illustrating the difficulties associated with co-branding between personal and corporate brands as well asynchronous communication. Further, our use of digital traces and computational analysis illustrates how access to social media can illuminate research activities and provide insight about online communication.

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