Abstract

Athletes who engage in social media have an opportunity to present their respective images in numerous ways. One online self-presentation strategy is the use of social media profile photographs. Such photos, as revealed in research outside the sport context, are often used by the subjects to construct positive self-images. In order to examine self-presentation strategies of athletes, the current study applied the content analytic methodology to the Twitter profile photographs of professional athletes (n = 871) across six prominent leagues. The results of the study revealed several unique findings. For instance, females and males used different approaches with their profile photographs (e.g., WNBA, WTA, and LPGA Tour players were more likely to use casual-themed profile photos in contrast to the more athletic themes used by NBA, ATP, and PGA Tour players). Athletes who had lower social media influence (e.g., Klout scores) were inclined to use action shots while those with more influence used posed shots more frequently. Tennis players and golfers selected a profile photo at a sport facility-related location more frequently than basketball players, who often used studio photos. Lastly, males were more likely than females to include brand logos in their profile photographs.

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