Nowadays, social media is becoming increasingly important for building a brand for startups. For newly established enterprises in the eSports scene, the use of social media for branding is also highly relevant. Although the scene is rather young, yet growing tremendously, previous academic literature has barely examined the cybersport industry. Therefore, the purpose of this exploratory study is to examine the following research question: How do startups in the eSports industry use social media for developing their brand? Furthermore, it aims to – partly – fill the gap in academic literature regarding eSports companies, and their social media branding practices. In order to answer the research question, the research examines a Russian startup in the eSports industry. Data is gathered from a total of 11 qualitative interviews with core staff of this newly established enterprise, as well as other industry insiders. Subsequently, this data is coded and examined by way of thematic analysis. From the analysis and interpretation of the findings, three core ideas occurred: 1) social media is crucial for the branding of any company in the cybersport scene, 2) whereas co-creation or the inclusion of external people in the processes of the company are discouraged, the personal network of the stakeholders, and adopting and maintaining a professional attitude in the social media presence, are highly important for creating loyal customers in the eSports industry, and 3) the eSports industry has a specific audience which makes that in the social media marketing strategy a) content should be prioritized, and b) the design elements are of considerable importance as well. Finally, the current research hints at a strongly integrated international component. On one hand, the eSports industry seemingly operates transnationally. On the other hand, social media supposedly has a global reach. Nevertheless, the analysis of the Russian startup reveals that cultural diversity and preferences still bear heavily on the effect of the internet. This means that, in order to effectively reach a global audience, social media marketing strategies have to be locally adjusted. Therefore, this thesis lays a good foundation for further comparative research.

Horst, S.
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Zweers, Elke. (2019, July). New scene, new company, new branding techniques? SOCIAL MEDIA USAGE FOR THE BRANDING OF STARTUPS IN THE ESPORTS INDUSTRY. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from