Look What We Have Here: Exploring Brand-Related Sport Consumer Twitter Conversation Topics

Liz Wanless
Heather Kennedy
Melissa Davies
Michael L. Naraine
and Ann Pegoraro

As sport organizations leverage social media as a critical component of marketing strategy, tools for exploring the large volume of sport consumer social media conversations are vital. This scholarship demonstrates the value of unsupervised latent Dirichlet allocation (LDA) as a tool for exploring consumers’ digital conversations. Specifically, unsupervised LDA was applied to derive latent topics among Women’s National Basketball Association-related Twitter conversation over the course of the 2020 season. Quantitative (cv and umass scores) and qualitative (two expert reviews) approaches were utilized to delineate topic configurations. Marginal topic distance established topic importance. Results from 118,518 tweets revealed 18 conversation topics spanning two overarching themes: social justice issues and on-court performance. The range and depth of the results highlight the importance of the unsupervised topic modeling method (without semi-supervised predetermined topic leads) for considering holistic rather than subsampled or snapshot datasets. This empirical investigation extends the conversation surrounding natural language processing to sport management re- search and practice, delivers a foundation for unsupervised LDA application to sport consumer conversation, and explores social media conversations during a critical moment for the WNBA.