Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS) in Communications


Communication Studies


This research is a case study of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson that focuses on how he uses the social media platform Instagram to reinforce the narrative surrounding his life. A total of four methods are used in this study. A Content Analysis categorized all of Russell Wilson’s Instagram posts for 2017 based on a framework developed by Smith & Sanderson (2015). The combination of the Rhetorical Criticism methods Close Textual Analysis and Narrative Criticism took a more in-depth look into one specific video post from Wilson’s Instagram account. Lastly, an interview was conducted with Wilson’s branding company, West2East Empire, to understand what strategies are used by Wilson on his social media platforms. Mixed methodologies allowed for the development of interconnections between the results from each method. Some of the most noteworthy findings were that (1) Wilson uses narrative to develop posts that benefit both his brand and outside brands, (2) Walter Fisher’s Narrative Coherence and Fidelity are a key strategy used by West2East Empire, and (3) athletes have a stronger influence on social media when their sport is in-season rather than out of season. Social media use by athletes continues to be a popular topic to study, and this investigation takes a multifaceted approach to better understand one of the most popular athletes in the social media landscape.