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US soccer hero?s Twitter surge alone lacks brand-endorsement credibility

Carli Lloyd?s surging Twitter following alone should not be allowed to drive the hero of the United States? Women?s World Cup victory to become a big-brand endorsement candidate, due to the Twitterati?s fickleness and the importance of other factors such as brand-image relevance.

In the U.S.?s triumph over Japan in the FIFA Women?s World Cup Canada in Vancouver, British Columbia, Ms. Lloyd scored three goals, gaining roughly 50,000 Twitter followers quickly thereafter. Although she had only few marketing deals before the game, her rising profile on social media raises as well as the popularity of mobile among sports fans raises the question of her potential for more big-brand mobile marketing campaigns.

?For Lloyd, the timing is right as awareness is at a high point over the next few months,? said Tom Edwards of The Marketing Arm, Dallas. ?A jump in followers after an event such as the World Cup can be a signal to brands that an individual may be a viable endorsement candidate.

?There are other factors such as consumer perception tied to awareness, appeal and relevance to the brand's image and potential influence on the brand's consumer,? he said. 

Nike campaign
Although Nike has recently used the 32-year-old New Jersey native who plays for the National Women's Soccer League?s Houston Dash in campaigns, Ms. Lloyd?s only deals so far have included a PR agreement with Usana Health Sciences and an agreement to represent Visa through the 2016 Olympics, reported.

Ms. Lloyd's Twitter account.

Reflecting her rising stock on the Web and on mobile, after Ms. Lloyd became only the second person, and the first woman, to score a hat trick in a World Cup Final, an autographed card of the player that closed on eBay during the game sold for $177.50. Before the World Cup started, Lloyd autographed cards could be had for $15 to $20.

Ms. Lloyd, chosen as the tournament's most valuable player, also is a two-time Olympic gold medalist who scored the gold medal-winning goals in the finals of both the 2008 Summer Olympics and the 2012 Summer Olympics. 

While Twitter has held a special position with television advertisers and programmers, recent research shows increased competition is weakening its role. 

In the seven months through April, the percentage of consumers who used Facebook to vote, post, share or comment about something on TV increased from 70.4 percent to 75.6 percent, while 25.4 percent used Twitter in the same way, down 8.6 percentage points or 25 percent, according to the SocialTV Index Report from Ring Digital. 

For some time, sports and soccer-related brands have looked to Twitter to extend the reach of their TV ads to the growing number of viewers engaged on social media. 

Last year, Budweiser leveraged a new Twitter voting mechanism as part of its 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil promotion, enabling fans to view side-by-side player photos before casting their vote for each game?s top athlete.

Fans could cast their votes on or by tapping the #ManoftheMatch Tweet from @FIFAcom to display a custom Twitter Card featuring the side-by-side player photos. 

It made sense for Budweiser to leverage Twitter to activate its sponsorship of the 2014 FIFA World Cup as fans and attendees for major live events increasingly looked to the platform to engage in real-time with related content.

Frame of reference
The Olympics provide a good frame of reference for non-traditional athletes that are tied to a moment in time versus consistent year-over-year endorsement.

Twitter's bond with sports is longstanding.

?The key is to ensure that the athlete aligns with the objectives and persona of the brand and attention needs to be paid to the key demographics and resonance of the sports celebrity,? Mr. Edwards said. 

Final Take 

Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York