Archive for July 21st, 2010

The Impact of Jason Akermanis’s Comments on the Western Bulldogs’s Online Fanbase

Posted by Laura on Wednesday, 21 July, 2010

This was originally written on June 14, 2010. It has not been edited since then. There may be some grammatical errors and citation related issues.

The Impact of Jason Akermanis’s Comments on the Western Bulldogs Online Fanbase

On May 20, the Jason Akermanis says gay AFL players should stay in the closet backlash started in response to his column in the Herald Sun. (Akermanis, 2010) The media covered the story on television, in print and online.  AFL fans discussed it on Twitter, created protest pages on Facebook, wiki articles were updated and a lot of people posted about it on the blogosphere.  Management within the AFL and the Western Bulldogs felt compelled to speak out against Jason’s comments.  People talked of reporting Jason to the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity commission.

From a marketing perspective, Akermanis’s opinions were perceived as damaging to the sport and league.  The Western Bulldogs have an association with VicHealth and the Gay and Lesbian Health Association and Akermanis’s comments seemed to contradict and undermine that support. (Walsh, 2010)  The possibility of negative backlash may not have been apparent to the team prior to the article being published as, according to the Sydney Star Observer, team management signed off on the column. (Noonan, 2010)   The size of the backlash and efforts to try to address it can probably be best evidenced by the suspension of Akermanis from the playing field and talking to the media.

Unlike the Melbourne Storm controversy, Akermanis’s comments do not give the appearance of having activated his personal fan base and the fan base for the Western Bulldogs.  There were no media reports of pastors speaking out on Akermanis’s behalf.  His teammates did not support him.  The media did not dismiss his comments, excusing them because of his otherwise excellent on field performance.  Perhaps had Akermanis made these comments in a different country, his comments would have had the potential to be less damaging to the club he played for.  There is also a general view, at least in the United States, that sport teams are run by conservatives who maintain traditional family values.  The assumption is often that sport fans reflect those same values; those that do not chose to follow other popular culture products like movies, television and video games.   If the fanbase for the AFL had actually reflected those underlying assumptions, the situation could have been much more easily ignored and have had the potential to be much less damaging.

The question is how damaging was the situation for the Western Bulldogs online?  How can this be measured? Did the team lose the potential to grow their audience when compared to other AFL teams as a result of Akermanis’s comments?  Who supported Jason and who did not?

The measurement question is probably the most difficult one to address.  Unlike the Melbourne Storm situation, this does not involve a team: The situation involves a specific player.  Liking or adding the team as an interest cannot necessarily be seen as supporting or condemning Jason Akermanis.  People could like the team because they suspended Akermanis for his comments. It is much harder to attribute page views to Akermanis and/or Western Bulldogs supporters who want to find out the situation in order to justify or reaffirm their allegiances.  Almost none of the media coverage and very few people on Twitter indicated that the fanbase was activated in defense of the team and Akermanis.  Thus, a default assumption for any data is that publicity of the situation will activate a larger audience to be against both the club and Akermanis unless contextual evidence suggests otherwise.

Given the measurement difficulties, this paper will nonetheless try to determine how the online community responded to the Jason Akermanis situation and how this reflects back on the Western Bulldogs.  This will be done by looking at Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, bebo, Alexa and a few selected sites.

Facebook is the most popular social network in Australia.  Facebook’s advertising data says that there are over nine million users from Australia using the site.  (1)  The following of some Australian based sport teams and leagues are quite large.  The official fan pages for the Queensland Maroons, Brisbane Broncos, Socceroos, AFL and Essendon Bombers all have more than 50,000 fans.

Given the large number of Australians using the network, the official presence of so many clubs and the amount of media attention paid to the service, a response on network was inevitable.   There are several Facebook metrics that can be looked at to ascertain how the controversy effected the Western Bulldogs and Jason Akermanis.  The first way is to compare the relative growth of the Western Bulldogs’ total fans on their fan page compared to other teams during the same page.  A second way is to examine comparative growth of groups that supported Akermanis versus those that condemned his views.  The third way is to compare demographic and geographic distinctions between fans that support Akermanis, people that condemned Akermanis’s views and Western Bulldogs fans.

If the Jason Akermanis controversy hurt the Western Bulldogs on Facebook, it should have resulted in a loss or slower growth in terms of total and percentage of new fans on Facebook when compared to other teams. Data was collected between March 25 and June 10, 2010 regarding the size of the official Facebook fan pages for several AFL teams. (2)

Table 1

In the period between May 3 to May 30, the Western Bulldogs were in the middle of the teams for number of new fans with 1,453. This was almost three times as many as the bottom ranked Geelong Cats who had 519 new fans in that period and a third of new fans of the top ranked Collingwood Magpies who saw an increase of 4,150 fans. An argument could be made that period had too much time preceding it that could have lessened any potential loss with earlier gains. Thus comparing the period between May 30 and June 5 migh be more helpful as Akermanis was suspended on June 1. That new brought additional attention to the column that led to his suspension. During this period, the Western Bulldogs ranked seven out of nine for total new fans with 213 people liking them. This number may not be that accurate as not all teams that had performed worse than them in the previous period were included in this sample. The better comparison could be between May 3 and June 10, 2010 as it is larger and includes the initial controversy and the suspension use. That data set is also more complete. During this longer period, the Western Bulldogs finish in the middle with a gain of 1,812 fans. This compares to the Carlton Blues who on top with 5,185 new fans and the Geelong Cats who are on the bottom with 657 new fans. All of this supports the idea that, when compared to other team’s growth, the Western Bulldogs were not hurt by the controversy.

Another way of looking at this data is to compare percentage growth of new followers. This number compares a club’s ability to get new followers relative to their own performance as opposed to all AFL fans. Using this number, the Western Bulldogs saw the most growth in the period between May 3 and May 30 with a 22.8% increase. The next highest performing club was the Carlton Blues with 19.5%. The Western Bulldogs growth is impressive when compared to the Essendon Bombers who had 4.5% growth, the St. Kilda Saints who had 3.7% and the Adelaide Crows who had 2.1% growth. In the period between May 30 and June 5, the Western Bulldogs were second only to the Gold Coast Football Club: The Bulldogs had a 3.2% increase in new fans compared to the Gold Coast’s 44.9%. The Western Bulldogs saw .8% more growth to the next highest team, the Richmond Tigers who had 2.4%. The Bulldogs percentage growth was roughly 6.4 times as much as the bottom teams, Essendon, St. Kilda and Adelaide who saw between .5 and .7% growth. For the period between June 5 and June 10, the Western Bulldogs finished second for highest percentage growth. The only team that outperformed them was Greater Western Sydney, another expansion team who had just made a lot of news with their signing of Israel Folau. With the exception of the Gold Coast, all teams had one or more percent less growth than the Western Bulldogs. For the overall period between May 3 and June 10, the Western Bulldogs finished on top with 26.9%, 1.1% more growth than the number two team of Carlton and well above that of the last place performer Adelaide who had 3.3% growth in fans on Facebook. Given these numbers where the Bulldogs led in percentage growth on Facebook, it is hard to argue that the Jason Akermanis controversy hurt their Facebook strategy. It might be argued that the team was able to effectively capitalize on Akermanis related traffic on Facebook and their website to convert some fringe fans into Facebook fans.

Beyond the total fans of official pages, there are other interesting metrics that can explain the fan response to the Jason Akermanis controversy. One involves the creation and growth of Facebook groups and fan pages: Facebook easily allows users to create them and they do. Some of the fastest member growing Facebook groups and fan pages are created to get media attention for an issue, to help people spread the word about breaking news and share knowledge, to express disgust with actions taken by institutions or to express allegiance with a person or organization in response to negative publicity. Once the catalyst for the event is out of the news, many of these groups face stagnant growth and become irrelevant having been abandoned by their creators.

While it is not possible to date the creation of a group, the Akermanis controversy likely resulted in the creation of a number of fan pages and groups. These groups have names such as Jason Akermanis, you are a MORON!, Jason Akermanis: Homophobe and complete fuckwit!, Jason Akermanis is a homophobe., Jason Akermanis is a dick, Jason Akermanis Is Totally Gay, Only Homophobes think Jason Akermanis is a homophobe!, Jason Akermanis should be locked and gagged in a closet!, Don’t you hate it when you’re in the shower and Jason Akermanis comes in?, Jason Akermanis is a homophobe., Jason Akermanis is a F*ckwit, Jason Akermanis Can’t Drive A Race Car, JASON AKERMANIS’S “IQ OF A PLANT”, Jason Akermanis slept with me, Jason Akermanis is a coward, and for people who wanna see Jason Akermanis shove his head up his own Ass. There are a number of pro or neutral Akermanis groups on Facebook. They likely predate the controversy. They include groups named Jason Akermanis, Jason Akermanis Biography, Jason Akermanis Autobiography, The Battle Within by Jason Akermanis, jason akermanis is amazing!, The Jason Akermanis Appreciation Society, Jason Akermanis is a legend, Jason Akermanis handstand appreciation society, and Jason Akermanis for Brownlow 2008. (3)

Some of the anti-Akermanis groups saw relatively impressive levels of growth. Jason Akermanis is a homophobe. is one of the most popular anti groups. It had 126 members on May 20 and had 547 members by May 24. Membership levels stabilized and it had only 627 members by June 12. Don’t you hate it when you’re in the shower and Jason Akermanis comes in? had 171 fans as of May 22. By May 30, it had 482. Most of the other anti-Jason groups sampled had smaller total populations and smaller membership increases. Some of the anti groups were deleted during this period. One such group was Jason Akermanis Is Totally Gay, which had one member when checked on May 20 and was deleted some time between then and June 10. Jason Akermanis: Homophobe and complete fuckwit! had 118 members on May 20 before being removed from Facebook by May 22.

The pro and neutral Akermanis groups in the sample were all smaller than the two largest anti-Akermanis groups as of June 12, 2010. A pro-Akermanis group ranked third for the total number of fans. In comparison to the anti-Akermanis groups, the growth rate was much smaller. The Jason Akermanis Appreciation Society went from 454 members on May 20 to 469 on June 12. Jason Akermanis is a legend saw no growth during that period, continuing to have 201 total members. Jason Akermanis handstand appreciation society saw a growth of one, going from 88 to 89 during that period. Jason Akermanis at is the group that probably saw the biggest percentage increase of clearly established fan pages. It went from 56 fans on May 20 to 165 on June 12. Jason Akermanis at went from 307 fans on May 20 to 382 on June 12. Growth levels for the pro and neutral groups are level compared to the anti groups. The data suggests that people did not respond to the Akermanis controversy by rushing out to assert their support of him and his views by joining communities about him on Facebook. The data also suggests that the anti-sentiment regarding Akermanis was not sustained for a long period of time and that people were not scared to affiliate with Akermanis, despite people’s negative attitudes towards him.

Another way of evaluating the effect of the Akermanis controversy on the Western Bulldogs is to compare the characteristics of Western Bulldog fans, Akermanis supporters and Akermanis detractors. Facebook shows the network membership for people who belong to many groups and fan pages, which allows such a comparison to take place. On June 13, 2010, a list of all the members of the Western Bulldogs official fan page was pulled. While Facebook shows the page as having 6,819 fans, it only provided names and network membership for 3,343 people. Of these fans, 188 or 5.6% belonged to a network. A membership list for Jason Akermanis is a homophobe. (4) was also pulled. As of June 13, 2010, the group had 627 members, of which Facebook lists 428. Of the 428, 28 or 6.5% belong to a network. A membership list for The Jason Akermanis Appreciation Society was pulled. As of June 13, the group had 469 members of which 337 were on the member list. Of these, 27 or 8.0% belonged to a network.

Networks are Facebook created groupings that early in the site’s history allowed people to easily filter content to people who shared an affiliation with other users. These networks cover three broad general categories: Places of employment, secondary schools and high schools. The pro-Akermanis people belong to thirteen networks not shared by detractors or Western Bulldogs fans. That means 48% of Akermanis fans do not belong to a network that is shared by Western Bulldogs fans and highly suggests that Akermanis’s fanbase largely is independent of the Bulldogs. Eight anti-Akermanis fans or 27% of that population belong to networks not represented by the Western Bulldogs or Akermanis supporters. This suggests that Akermanis detractors likely come from with in the Western Bulldogs fanbase.

The differences between Akermanis detractors and Western Bulldogs fans are really clear when network membership is sorted by type (secondary school, university, company) and then tabulated. (5) 78.6% of all Akermanis detractors that list a network belong to a university related one. This compares to 50.0% for Akermanis supporters and 48.6% for Bulldogs supporters. Bulldog supporter network membership suggests that the club’s goal of building a barracker base from the working class has been successful. The pattern of network membership may also suggest that Akermanis detractors are older than the club’s current supporter base. Given these two conditions, the Bulldogs are likely to be unaffected by the detractors as they represent a demographically distinct group that the club is not marketing to.

Twitter is a popular microblogging platform. Many teams, players and fansites have established a presence on the site. Australian sport fans are also actively using Twitter to discuss their club’s performance, celebrity athlete related gossip and to find other sport news.

There are several possible ways to monitor the impact of the Akermanis controversy as it pertains to Western Bulldogs. Sadly, the most important Twitter metrics are not accessible as the author did not get the data in the moment. (6) These include total number of followers before and after the controversy for the official account and total number of tweets featuring certain keywords. The counting the total number of Tweets by the official account was also not done, as it was believed that this data would not have meaningful results. Unlike the Melbourne Storm controversy, the focus was on a player where the media and fan attention appeared to be on him to the exclusion of his club. Given that, the Bulldogs did not have to respond or change their practices in their official fan communication channels and monitoring their Tweet volume would be unlikely to provide any insight into the fan response to the controversy.

As the three of the most popular Twitter metrics are not available or not relevant, the question is what other metrics can be used? One Twitter analysis tool that can be useful in this case is Twitter Venn. (7) The service creates Venn diagrams based on keywords that a user selects. The service uses Twitter’s search API to find Tweets that mention the two or three teams the user selected, determines if the terms were used together or independently, counts the total Tweets and then creates the Venn. (Clark, n.d.) Using this service on June 11, a Venn diagram (Figure 1) was created. The keywords chosen were based on the goal of trying to exclude irrelevant tweets, such as people talking about their pet Bulldogs or other teams named the Bulldogs. Phrases such as gay, homosexual and homophobic were also not included as their usage extends beyond this controversy and would pick up a lot of irrelevant data.

Figure 1. Twitter Venn. This Venn diagram generated by Twitter Venn demonstrates the lack of overlap between use of Akermanis and Western Bulldogs.

On Twitter, people who mentioned Jason Akermanis did not mention his club affiliation, instead referencing the AFL, gay and other words that indicate the controversy involving the column he published. Based on this, it can be concluded that on Twitter, Akermanis’s comments did not result in rage directed at his club.

Wikipedia is one of the first sources of information that many people turn to when a news story breaks. Articles on the site often provide background information and context to an event, and include a summary and links of breaking news. Wikipedia also has an excellent search engine optimization. When people go to Google or other search engines to find out what is happening, Wikipedia often appears as the first, second or third result. Thus, an increase in an article’s views should be expected when controversy happens.

In terms of the Jason Akermanis and Wikipedia, the way to measure the controversy as it impacts the Western Bulldogs would be to compare the total page views between those two articles. If the controversy reflected more upon Akermanis than his team, the expectation is the page view spike would be higher. The chart below contains traffic information to those two articles for the period between May 1 and June 8, 2010. (8) To give perspective to Akermanis’s situation as it pertains to athlete interest connecting to club interest, data for the Israel Folau, Brisbane Broncos and Western Sydney Football Club articles have been included on the chart. (Figure 2)

Figure 2. Article Views on Wikipedia by Date. Graph shows total views of selected Wikipedia articles between May 1 and June 10, 2010.

The Jason Akermanis controversy did not result in increase in attention for the Western Bulldogs: Total page views by date have a correlation of .280, which suggests that interest in the two is not related. This is much different than the situation that exists for Israel Folau and Greater Western Sydney: The two articles move in tandem in terms of total article views by date with a correlation of .943. (9)

There are two other aspects of Wikipedia worth analyzing as they pertain to understanding the fan community’s actions in response to the controversy. One is the total edits. The second is the location of those edits. For total edits, controversial and high visibility stories tend to lead to an increase in editing. For less controversial news stories, where there isn’t much new information and the topic is not one people are passionate about, there tend to be fewer peaks in editing. Below is a chart (Figure 3) that compares the total number of edits to the Jason Akermanis, Western Bulldogs, Israel Folau and Greater Western Sydney articles.

Figure 3. Total Edits Between May 1 and June 8, 2010 for Selected Wikipedia Articles.

The Jason Akermanis controversy resulted in people editing the article about him. The total number of daily edits does not mirror total number of daily edits to the Western Bulldogs. This continues to suggest that people viewed Akermanis’s actions independently of his club. This contrasts with the Israel Folau situation, where the total number of edits appears to be a bit more connected.

The Western Bulldogs are based in a Melbourne suburb. An argument could be made that the Western Bulldogs should be concerned about maintaining or developing a fanbase in their local area; they do not need to worry about the fan community outside their geographic home. The only way to measure the local fan community response on Wikipedia expressed by editing an article is to use geolocation for IP addresses that have edited an article. As the total edits by date chart shows, there have been very few edits to the Western Bulldogs article since the Jason Akermanis controversy broke. Of the five edits made to the Western Bulldogs article, two edits have been made by users who have not logged in and have a visible IP address. Neither of these edits references the controversy. Both edits are from Melbourne. (10) This suggests that the controversy did not impact their local fanbase.

The edit history for the Jason Akermanis article stands in stark contrast to the Western Bulldogs article. It has a lot more edits and almost all of the non-logged in edits involved editing the article to reference the stay in the closet controversy. There were 29 total edits made by 14 non-logged in users. Of these edits, four are from Melbourne, one each from Camberwell and Sandringham in Victoria, two are from Adelaide, three are from Sydney and three are international. Only 42 percent of the edits to the Jason Akermanis article originate from the Western Bulldog’s geographic home. Determining what this means is more problematic. The most obvious conclusion is that the offended population were geographically dispersed and were more interested in the topic because of the homophobic aspects than because of their interest in Akermanis and the Western Bulldogs. These edits should not be seen as being committed by a base who will punish the Western Bulldogs by not watching games on television or in person.

Bebo was a popular social networking site in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Its popularity has slipped in the past year but there is still a large population of AFL fans on the site. It probably ranks amongst the top ten most popular social networks inside Australia
Bebo allows people to search for keywords and interest that appear in people’s profiles, in videos, descriptions of bands, groups, applications and skins. For profiles, the general assumption is that people do not update interests listed on them regularly after they register. Doing so generally requires a strong desire to associate or disassociate with a person or organization. This desire has to overcome general antipathy towards updating. Thus, interest levels remain relatively stable unless something happens that causes a huge emotional response.

What does this mean for the Western Bulldogs? Did the Jason Akermanis situation reach that point, causing people to want to associate or disassociate with the team? As of March 17, there were 93 people who listed the Western Bulldogs as an interest. (11) By June 8, 2010, this number had increased to 95. There does not appear to have been an attitude shift that causes many people to want to change their public allegiances. The small increase may mean something when compared to Melbourne Storm who saw zero interest listing growth during a similar period prior to and after a major controversy. (Hale, 2010)

While no bebo video data is available for the Western Bulldogs prior to June 9, video data is available for the Brisbane Lions. On May 1, 2010, a search was done of videos on bebo for the “Brisbane Lions.” This is a team that Jason Akermanis played for. On that date, there were 74 videos which mentioned the Brisbane Lions. Three of these videos referenced an Australian soccer league team. The rest were about the AFL team. Of these 71 videos, only one contained Akermanis in the title or description. As of May 1, it had only eleven views. When the video viewing statistics were check on June 9, 2010, there were still only 11 views: The Jason Akermanis controversy has not translated into people seeking out video content on bebo featuring him to watch.

There are no groups about Jason Akermanis. This contrasts to Facebook, where there are several that cover several different views of the player. The Jason Akermanis did not inspire anyone on bebo to create any anti-Jason group, which suggests either antipathy towards the situation or fans not being particularly active on bebo any more.

The only other large player/club controversy that occurred during this time period involved Israel Falou, who switched from the NRL and Brisbane Broncos to the AFL and Greater Western Sydney. To put Jason Akermanis’s fan community as it related to the Western Bulldogs on bebo into context, it is worth comparing the two players. The following data was gathered on June 8, 2010.

Table 2

Bebo interests suggest that Israel Folau is much more important to the Brisbane Broncos fan community than Jason Akermanis is. Jason Akermanis’s comments look like, based on these numbers, that they would have less potential to harm the club than Israel Folau’s desertion to the AFL.

Website Traffic and Demographics
There are primarily three services which track website traffic. They are Alexa, Quantcast and Compete. (12) Each one has something different to offer in terms of how they measure and information they provide about a site. None of these sites are perfect in that they cannot convey a completely accurate picture of a website’s traffic or the demographic composition of visitors to the site. Despite these deficiencies, using their data can begin to give an idea to the fan response by looking for traffic movement out of sync with other teams and if there was a major difference in audiences visiting the Bulldogs site.

Alexa ranks websites based on the amount of traffic they get. It measures traffic using a user-installed toolbar coupled with other data. (13) (alberto, 2009) They can differentiate traffic based on nation and will provide ranking information by country for sites that get a majority of their traffic from specific countries. Their data is also updated daily. This makes them more useful than Compete and Quantcast in that Alexa provides information about Australian sites and updates daily so that daily traffic patterns can be examined.

On June 5, June 8 and June 9, 2010, the international and Australian ranking on Alexa was recorded for all official AFL club websites. (14) This is not ideal, as it does not include traffic prior to and immediately after the Jason Akermanis situation. Still, it can provide a picture of what was happening 16 days after the incident broke, a few days after news of Akermanis’s suspension was announced.

Table 3.

The only team with less traffic to their site is Greater Western Sydney, a team that has not started playing in the AFL yet. While only three of the seventeen teams saw an increase in Australian traffic ranking from June 5 to June 9, (15) the decrease in rank between those dates for the Western Bulldogs was the most extreme: It dropped almost 2,000 places. This suggests that something is going on to depress traffic to the Bulldogs when compared to other teams.

Quantcast and Alexa both provide demographic information about visitors to a site. Quantcast can directly measure a site’s traffic and build a better demographic picture if a site inserts Quantcast’s code into their site. (Quantcast Corporation, 2008) Quancast’s data tends to be American centric and does not always provide a picture of international visitors unless a site is Quantified. Alexa’s demographic data comes from a survey users complete when they install the toolbar. (alberto, 2009)

Bearing in mind that the Quantcast’s description is based on American visitors, the site characterizes visitors to the Western Bulldogs’s site (16) as female, middle aged, Hispanic, have children, make between $30,000 and $60,000 a year and are college graduates. This information was based on all of May 2010, including the nineteen days before the controversy broke out. Alexa, which has much more data from Australian users, characterizes visitors to the Western Bulldogs site as generally between the ages of 18 to 24, male, college graduates, childless and visiting the site from work.

The Geelong Cats and North Melbourne Kangaroos are closest to the Western Bulldogs in terms of amount of traffic. They are also based in the same metro area. Thus, it makes sense to compare their audience with the of the Bulldogs to determine if the there are demographic differences between the clubs that could be attributed to a shift in viewing habits as a result of the Akermanis controversy.

Quantcast characterizes visitors to the Geelong Cats site (17) as female, extremely young, Asian, having no children, making between $30,000 and $60,000 a year and being college graduates. Quantcast characterizes North Melbourne Kangaroos website visitors (18) as being split evenly amongst both genders, teenaged, Asian, having kids in their household, affluent and possessing a graduate degree.

Alexa characterizes Geelong Cats website visitors as being between 18 and 24, male, having a graduate degree, having children, and visiting the site from bother home and work. Alexa characterizes North Melbourne Kangaroos visitors as between 18-24, male, having a college degree, childless and visiting the site from home.

There does not appear to be a demographically homogenous group visiting the websites of all three clubs. The major difference appears to be the racial make up of visitors, with the Western Bulldogs over representing in Hispanics. It would be difficult to make a claim, based on available website demographic data, that the Akermanis situation changed the composition of the fanbase.

43 Things, Blogger and Other Small Networks
While smaller and less influential sites like 43 Things, Blogger and BlackPlanet have tiny populations, they are worth monitoring as they can often be one of the first signs of a major public relations problem online that can no longer be controlled. Twitter and Facebook can often be very temporal: Things happen in the moment and are quickly forgotten. Those sites are not set up to record fan responses. Other sites, either because they are inactive, allow for longer posting, have greater visibility to people outside the network the content exists on or because influential fans from those networks may have greater crossover to a wider selection of sites, can hurt a club or league’s reputation. The content does not go away. There are influential people on some of those sites that can spread the message to a totally different audience with a different demographic profile. Also, when you’re talking to some one in a much smaller group, there tends to be more trust and greater potential for people to believe what their friends are saying. While a person reading one hundred tweets by nominal acquaintances may be able to forget and move on as things move so fast, in a one on one environment, the chances are the smaller group may have bigger problems letting go and moving on.
43things is a goal setting site that is relatively popular in Australia. Prior to the Jason Akermanis controversy, there was one goal related to the Western Bulldogs: See the Western Bulldogs win the grand final. One person was trying to accomplish this goal. Since the controversy, there has been no change in people creating new goals related to the club, nor in the number of people trying to accomplish the existing goal. There have been no goals, either positive or negative, created related to Jason Akermanis. This mirrors the non-action taken by Brisbane Broncos, Israel Folau and Greater Western Sydney fans who added no goals in response to the change in code news for Israel Folau.

BlackPlanet is a small social network marketed at African Americans in the United States. It has a small community of Australians on it. The major sport league that Australians are interested on the site is the NRL. Prior to and after the controversy, no one listed the Western Bulldogs as an interest. After the controversy, no one updated their profiles to include Jason Akermanis as an interest.

Blogger is a blogging site powered by Google. It is one of the more popular free blogging services in Australia. Users can create a profile on the site, which is used to link their different blogs and comments on one page. The profile page includes an interest field that users can fill out. As of January 16, twelve people listed the Western Bulldogs as an interest. This number only changed by one as of June 4 and June 8, 2010, with 13 people listing the team as interest. No one listed Jason Akermanis as an interest on blogger as of June 4, 2010. It is unlikely that the Jason Akermanis situation resulted in any behavioral change in terms of public allegiances shown on profiles for the Western Bulldogs.

Care2 is a small social network marketed at people who want to make the world a better place. It hosts blogs, groups, discussions, personal profiles, petitions and photos. Care2 has a small population of Australian sport fans using it. As the site is geared towards making a difference and addressing social problems, it is a bit surprising that Akermanis does not show up when searching (19) site profiles, discussions, groups or petitions. As of June 11, the Western Bulldogs are only mentioned four times in blogs and only included on one person’s profile. While this data was gathered three weeks after the controversy, it seems unlikely that with no mentions of Akermanis, the small community on Care2 turned against the team. ecademy is a niche social networking site that is an alternative to LinkedIn for professionals. With no earlier benchmarks, a June 11, 2010 profile search (20) turned up similar results to Care2: No one listed the team or Jason Akermanis as an interest on their profile. It is unlikely that the controversy had an impact on the small AFL community on the site.

Wikia is an extremely popular wiki hosting company (21) that allows anyone to freely create a wiki. They are home to three small wikis dedicated to the AFL and Australian rules football. (22) These wikis are small and not very comprehensive. Two were created prior to the controversy and one was created after it. None have had any edits to the Western Bulldogs or Jason Akermanis article. Coincidentally, there have been no edits related to Israel Folau and Greater Western Sydney. The Wikia community for the AFL was clearly not activated in response to the Akermanis or Folau situations. This suggests that the community is either inactive or more interested in historical on field play rather than off field player antics.

Based on fan behavior online, Jason Akermanis’s comments did not help the player build his personal brand. He upset some fans in the short term, and motivated people to create long time reminders of views that they consider problematic. Very few fans rushed to his defense by affiliating with him or creating groups to defend his position. While the controversy may be problematic for Akermanis, the controversy was less problematic for his club, the Western Bulldogs. Fans did not link the club and player on Wikipedia or Twitter. People did not remove their Western Bulldogs interest on sites such as Blogger or change their behavior goals on sites like 43 Things. Inactive Bulldogs fans were not motivated to become active in order to express disgust for the team. The people that had problems with Akermanis were demographically distinct from Bulldogs fans on Facebook. The controversy harmed Akermanis but it did not harm his team’s image.

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Calibrate Unique Cookie, Machine, and People Counts in a Direct-Measurement Media Economy.” Quantcast. Retrieved June 9, 2010, from

Walsh, C. (2010, May 21). “Aker’s viewpoint bizarre: Roos.” The Australian. Retrieved from


  1. Facebook’s advertising page is located at .  As of June 11, 2010, it said that there were 9,300,240 people from Australia.
  2. The urls for the fan pages in this sample are,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and,
  3. The following is a complete list of URLs for Jason Akermanis related Facebook fan pages and groups that the author looked at:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,  and .
  4. The group can be found at .
  5. The following table lists the network, the type of network and the total members from the three different groups looked at.

    Network Type Supporters Detractors Bulldogs Total
    Victoria AU University 2 1 15 18
    Monash University 2 8 7 17
    University of Melbourne University 2 1 13 16
    RMIT University 0 0 15 15
    State Government of Victoria Company 0 0 11 11
    Deakin University 0 2 8 10
    La Trobe University University 2 0 7 9
    Westbourne Grammar School Secondary school 0 0 4 4
    Bendigo Senior Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 3 3
    Curtin University 0 2 1 3
    Haileybury College Secondary school 1 0 2 3
    MacKillop College Secondary school 1 0 2 3
    St. Paul’s College Secondary school 0 0 3 3
    University of Sydney University 0 2 1 3
    Catholic College Bendigo Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Essendon Keilor College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Hoppers Crossing Secondary College Secondary school 1 0 1 2
    Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School Secondary school 1 0 1 2
    James Cook University 0 1 1 2
    Methodist Ladies’ College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    National Australia Bank Company 0 0 2 2
    St. Bernard’s College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Sunbury College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Swinburne University 0 0 2 2
    Telstra Company 0 1 1 2
    UNSW University 1 1 0 2
    Whitefriars College Secondary school 0 0 2 2
    Academy of Mary Immaculate Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    ANZ Company 0 0 1 1
    Australian National University 0 0 1 1
    Bacchus Marsh College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Ballarat & Clarendon College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Ballarat High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Benedictine IL University 0 0 1 1
    Binghamton University 1 0 0 1
    Bowness High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Box Hill High School Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    Braemar College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Burnside State High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Cairns State High School Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    Catholic Regional College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Central Queensland University 0 0 1 1
    Chairo Christian School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Charles Campbell Secondary School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Charles Darwin University 0 0 1 1
    Charles Sturt University University 1 0 0 1
    Chelmer Valley High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Clonard College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Computer Sciences Corporation Company 0 0 1 1
    Copperfield College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    De La Salle College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Elsevier Company 0 0 1 1
    Emmaus College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Esperance Senior High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    FedEx Company 0 0 1 1
    Firbank Grammar School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Ford Motor Company Company 0 0 1 1
    FRANCE 24 Company 0 0 1 1
    Geelong Grammar School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Gisborne Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Governor Stirling High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Griffith University 0 1 0 1
    Guilford Young College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Gymnase de Beaulieu Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Heathfield High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Hellyer College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    IESEG School of Management University 0 0 1 1
    Illawarra Sports High School Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    John Willcock Senior High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Jones Lang LaSalle Company 0 0 1 1
    Kantonsschule Büelrain Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Karingal Park Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Keilor Downs College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    KPMG Company 0 0 1 1
    Launceston College Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Lowther Hall Anglican School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Macquarie University 0 0 1 1
    Melbourne High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Merrimac State High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Metso Company 1 0 0 1
    Mildura Senior College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Mincom Company 0 0 1 1
    Mirrabooka Senior High School Secondary school 1 0 0 1
    Mount Carmel College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Mowbray College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Nazareth College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Newcastle University 0 1 0 1
    Newcomb High Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Northern Beaches Christian School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Norwood Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Nowra Christian School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Nowra High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Optus Company 0 0 1 1
    Padua College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Patterson River Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Presentation College Windsor Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Sacred Heart AU Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Sacred Heart College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Salesian College Rupertswood Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    San Diego State University 0 0 1 1
    Smithfield State High School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    St Albans Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    St. Aloysius College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    St. Thomas University 0 0 1 1
    Star Of The Sea Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    Star of the Sea College Secondary school 0 1 0 1
    Strathmore Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    T. D. Williamson Company 0 0 1 1
    Tasmania University 0 0 1 1
    The British School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    The Friends’ School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    The Peninsula School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Trinity Catholic School Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    University of New England University 0 1 0 1
    University of Peradeniya University 0 0 1 1
    University of Zimbabwe University 1 0 0 1
    UT Arlington University 0 0 1 1
    UWA University 1 0 0 1
    Webber Academy Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Wellesley University 0 1 0 1
    Westpac Banking Company 0 0 1 1
    William Angliss Institute of TAFE University 0 0 1 1
    Wodonga Senior Secondary College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Wycheproof College Secondary school 0 0 1 1
    Total Secondary school 12 5 80 97
    Total University 13 22 82 117
    Total Company 1 1 26 28
    Total 26 28 188 242
    Percentage Secondary school 46.2% 17.9% 42.6% 40.1%
    Percentage University 50.0% 78.6% 43.6% 48.3%
    Percentage Company 3.8% 3.6% 13.8% 11.6%
  6. Data regarding the comparative size of total Twitter followers for the Western Bulldogs was initially gathered on June 1, almost a week after the controversy first started.  Twitter follower counts for other official club accounts were not recorded on that.  This further hampers the ability to make comparisons between teams.
  7. Twitter Venn is located at .
  8. Article view information is provided by .
  9. The correlation between the Brisbane Broncos article and the Israel Folau article is .155.  The relationship between page views for each article is close to random.
  10. was used to determine the geolocation of IP addresses.
  11. This number came from visiting , clicking on the people tab and searching for “Western Bulldogs.”
  12. Compete is not being looked at here because they have not updated their data to include May.  They also do not provide free demographic details about visitors to sites that they track.
  13. It is important to note that this tool does not measure direct traffic to a site.  Rather, it involves sampling traffic to the site to get an approximate for this his compares to other sites.
  14. The list of Alexa pages checked include: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and .
  15. There are almost certainly cyclical patterns to the checking of AFL club websites: People check them on game and around game day to keep up with the team.  They are unlikely to check club websites when there is no club news and teams are not playing.
  16. The Quantcast information is from
  17. The Quantcast information is from
  18. The Quantcast information is from
  19. The url for the search that was confused is .
  20. The ecademy search can be found at
  21. As of June 11, 2010, Alexa ranks Wikia as the 312th most popular site on the Internet.  Compete estimates that the site gets around 3.2 million visitors a month.
  22. The wikis are , , and .

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