Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Social Networks in Fitness Centres: The Impact of Fan Engagement on Annual Turnover

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Social Networks in Fitness Centres: The Impact of Fan Engagement on Annual Turnover

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

Introduction

The use of social networks by companies in the services sector has grown exponentially in recent years (Park & Dittmore, 2014). In sports organisations, for example, in an environment in which it is essential that customers are active contributors to the brand (Williams & Chinn, 2010), managers are today especially aware of the benefits of social media as a tool for implementing their marketing strategies (Coyle, 2010; Filo, Lock, & Karg, 2015). Given this situation, and because of the popularity attained by the social media, organisations across the board are investing both time and money in promoting customer participation and in fostering relationships with their clients. In return, they are reaping the rewards of rising levels of revenue and consumer satisfaction (Richter, Muhlestein, & Wilks, 2014).

The present study focuses on the analysis of sports facilities, primarily on fitness centres. The Yearbook of Sports Statistics (MECD, 2016) defines sports facilities as all those "that include one or several sports spaces where a physical-sport activity can be carried out". Focusing specifically on fitness centres, Barros and Gonçalves (2009) have defined them as service organizations that sell experiences, not products, and identify them as clear examples of suppliers of sports activities. In the academic literature, several classifications of fitness centres have been proposed (Reverter & Barbany, 2007). However, they all have in common the characteristic that they offer equipment that can improve physical and mental aptitudes. GarcíaFernández (2012) employs the concept of the fitness centre in his study to refer to sports facilities, which he defines as "facilities that comprise indoor spaces, fitness rooms and polyvalent rooms, either privately or publicly managed, for the carrying out of physical activities that improve physical and psychic health, promoting and supplying sport, wellness or leisure activities."

Sport contributes positively to economic growth, citizens' employability and social cohesion, while it limits health expenditure (European Commission, 2007). According to Deloitte (2015), the European health and fitness sector serves 46 million consumers, generates revenues of 25.2 billion euros, employs 400,000 people and operates 46,500 facilities. With a total market share larger than 26.8 billion euros, Europe boasts the largest health and fitness market in the world, with the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France and Spain representing 65% of the total European market.

In recent years, the fitness business has developed rapidly as a consequence of the growth in demand for this service (García-Fernández, Gálvez-Ruiz, Vélez-Colon, & Bernal-García, 2016), which affects a range of aspects that include health, social status and affective relationships, in addition to the opportunities generated by the services offered.

The number of Internet users exceeded three billion in 2014, with 2,078 billion active social media accounts worldwide. Facebook continues to dominate the social media with 1,366 million active users as of January 2015 (We are Social, 2015), while Twitter has more than half a million active accounts (Associated Press, 2013). Europe is one of the geographical areas with the most Internet users at 77.6 million (Observatorio Nacional de Telecomunicaciones y de la Sociedad de la Información, ONTSI, 2016). In the case of Spain, more than 19.1 million people between the ages of 16 and 55 use the Internet, of which 81% use social networks (IAB Spain, 2016). In relation to brands, up to 47% of users use them to keep themselves informed and up to 36% to know more about the products and/or services of the brand they follow (IAB Spain, 2016). Among the most popular social networks, Facebook remains the social network par excellence, followed by Twitter and YouTube (IAB Spain, 2015). Specifically, Facebook has more than 1. …

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