Analysing the Role of National Culture in Content Creation and User Engagement on Twitter: The Case of Indian Premier League Cricket Franchises

Prof. Adrija Majumdar & Mr. Deep Prakash C

One's culture often defines their language use. While Americans say, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease", the Japanese maxim is, "The nail that sticks out gets hammered". Culture has been found to play a significant role in business marketing communications in the e-commerce era. However, from a content generation strategy perspective, understanding how national culture influences the content generation strategy and user engagement becomes necessary, because greater social media engagement garners more revenue.

Twitter has emerged as a prominent medium for sports franchises to engage and connect with their fans. Every sports franchise is striving to achieve excellence in social media content generation to increase their digital fan base and attract better sponsorships. However, different fans seek different gratifications when they interact with a franchise on Twitter. Thus, developing engaging content that caters to the need of all fan groups becomes challenging. Therefore, a special team works towards content generation and handling social media on behalf of a sports franchise. However, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of that sports franchise is responsible for the content and strategic decisions related to digital marketing strategies. Thus, the COO's role becomes vital in social media user engagement, as it can strengthen or weaken the relationship between a franchise and its fan base.

Interestingly, the COOs can have varied nationalities. Owing to their cultural differences, their content generation style varies. To investigate the impact of COOs' nationality on the content generation strategy, we select the curious case of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Year 2019. Of eight IPL franchises, only one franchise had an overseas COO from the United Kingdom. The remaining seven were all Indian COOs.

We investigate the impact of national culture on content creation and user engagement using Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory. Hofstede considers culture to be a national-level phenomenon that can explain the differences in people's behaviours. We hypothesise that cultural differences between native and foreign COOs might be reflected in the franchise's content generation strategy, impacting their social media user engagement. To test our hypotheses, we measure the interrelationship between national culture and social media user engagement metrics in the tweets of a native-COO-governed franchise vis-a-vis the tweets of a foreign-COO-governed franchise. Additionally, we built multiple predictive models and classified the tweets posted by a native-COO-governed franchise and those posted by a foreign-COO-governed franchise. Furthermore, we examined our predictive model's performance based on each culture-inspired content feature and control feature and identified the tweet's actual author.

Prior research focused predominantly on a questionnaire-based approach to conceptualise cultural dimensions. In our sports and social media setting, since we intended to analyse the impact of cultural differences only from tweets, we addressed the limitation of the questionnaire-based approach and proposed our new conceptualisation. To devise a new model, we reviewed the literature to understand Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory's conceptualisation as practised in text-based analyses and adopted it for our sports and social media setting. Prior studies used word markers such as "I", "Me", "We" and "Our" to conceptualise Hofstede's cultural dimensions. Furthermore, researchers have used text-based features such as the number of hashtags, the number of mentions, media presence and the number of retweets to study different microblogging behaviours of people belonging to different nations. Therefore, in our conceptualisation of Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory in the sports and social media context, we combined the word marker approach and the microblogging behaviour approach with domain-specific features. Subsequently, we used econometric techniques and tested our hypotheses empirically using this conceptualisation.

Overall, our results suggest that the tweets more aligned with local fans' national culture received more engagement. The results highlight that with the increasing extent of power distance and collectivism and decreasing extent of individualism in the tweets, the user engagement increases. We found these results meaningful, as India exhibits higher levels of power distance and collectivism and lower levels of individualism. Interestingly, our authorship attribution predictive model results suggest that a local-COO-governed franchise's tweets differed from those posted by a foreign-COO-governed franchise.

Our work's practical implication is in aiding franchises to understand the impact of appointing a local vis-a-vis foreign COO on content generation and user engagement. We argue that a local COO compared to a foreign COO might be more aware of the cultural idiosyncrasies of the market in which they are operating. Our results confirmed that local-COO-governed franchises are better aligned with the cultural views of user communities to increase user engagement. Thus, our study highlights that national culture's role in the content generation strategy and user engagement is profound and that franchises should try to benefit from it by creating culturally aligned social media content.

We intend to extend our study to other sports leagues worldwide by making necessary changes in our model in our future work. In the future, we also aim to build and test our model in a non-sports setting. Finally, we have only analysed the Twitter platform, as it is the most popular channel of engagement for IPL franchises. In future research, we plan to explore other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, etc.

Read the full paper at: Prakash, C. D., & Majumdar, A. (2021). Analysing the role of national culture on content creation and user engagement on Twitter: The case of Indian Premier League cricket franchises. International Journal of Information Management, 57, 102268.

About The Authors

Prof. Adrija Majumdar

Prof. Adrija Majumdar

Adrija Majumdar ( is an Assistant Professor in the Information Systems area.

Mr. Deep Prakash C

Mr. Deep Prakash C

Deep Prakash C is a PhD student in the Information Systems area.