Yiyang Zhang

Engaging Gen Z: A Multi-Dimensional Study of TikTok as a Relationship Marketing Tool in Professional Sports.

Yiyang Zhang

Yiyang is a Doctoral Researcher within the Institute for Sport Business. His research interests in social media and relationship marketing in professional sports, specifically focusing on the innovative use of TikTok as a strategic tool for engaging with and fostering meaningful connections among Gen Z fans.

Prior to joining Loughborough University London, Yiyang received his MSc in Sport Policy, Management and International Development at the University of Edinburgh and his BSc in Sports Economics and Management in China. Yiyang's academic interests have always been in social media and relationship marketing in professional sports.

Yiyang has also worked as a research assistant on a project examining the impact of Covid-19 on risk management for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The project was collaboratively commissioned by the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Winter Games (BOCOWG) and the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control.

PhD research description

Yiyang’s study is situated at the intersection of social media marketing and sports management, aiming to explore how professional sports teams, specifically English Premier League (EPL) clubs, leverage TikTok to engage with Gen Z fans through relationship marketing. The research unfolds through three interconnected studies, seeking to provide a holistic understanding from three distinct perspective—the social media practice, the fans, and the practitioners—thereby offering comprehensive insight into the effective use of contemporary social media in forging meaningful relationships with Gen Z within the professional sports context.

PhD supervisors

Yiyang’s PhD is supervised by Dr Lauren Burch and Dr Emily Hayday.

Interests and activities

Yiyang has a strong interest in sports that has influenced his academic career. As a collegiate ice hockey player, Yiyang and his teammates won the championship title at the Chinese University Ice Hockey Championship in 2020. For additional information about Yiyang, visit his LinkedIn page.

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