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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Brand new order: M S Dhoni slips to No 7 on Facebook, Twitter; Sachin Tendulkar leads the chart

The Cricket World Cup has created a lot of buzz on the internet, but the most valuable cricket celebrity, Indian captain M S Dhoni , seems to be losing his appeal in social media even as brands are trying to join in online world cup talks.

Dhoni is ranked only seventh in the list of players most talked about on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs in the first three weeks of cricket's showpiece event, says a study by NM Incite, a Nielsen McKinsey company specialising in social media intelligence.

He was fourth before the start of the tournament on February 19.

Among brands, Pepsi is leading in social media interactions around the world cup, but some other official sponsors such as Hero Honda, Castrol and Yahoo! are trailing non-sponsors like Nokia, Adidas and Sony.

"Some brands have managed to keep their social media campaigns far more dynamic by altering content and stimulus during the course of the tournament," Nielsen India's Media MD Farshad Family said. Online buzz occurs when a person or brand or topic comes up in several social media interactions. The more times a name is discussed, the higher the buzz.

To measure it, NM Incite studied world cup related messages on blogs, message boards, groups, videos and image sites, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. It's like a Google search done on social networks with brands, cricketers and teams as key words along with cricket world cup. The Nielsen-McKinsey joint venture did it with a proprietary tool called Nielsen BuzzMetrics.

Top batsman Sachin Tendulkar continues to lead the chart, followed by Australian captain Ricky Pointing , Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi and English medium pacer Stuart Broad .

Among marketers, Pepsi dominates with more than 17% share. "This is the first Cricket World Cup where social media has such kind of scale," PepsiCo India Executive Vice-President, Marketing, Sandeep Singh Arora said.

PepsiCo runs online contests for every match and it has mopped up over 9.2 lakh fans on its Facebook world cup page and more than 500 followers on Twitter.

"While they (social media users) form just 1% of our consumer base, they are evangelist or opinion leaders for our brands," Arora said. Pepsi is followed by handset maker Nokia and durables maker LG with 11% share each. Nokia is not an official partner. In fact, several non-sponsors have outdone some official World Cup sponsors, who have spent hundreds of crore for the rights, in online world cup campaigns. Take for instance Vodafone and Airtel, which have cornered 10% and 6% share, respectively, in online buzz compared to official partner Reliance Communications' 2%.

Ditto for official sponsor Reebok that has lost ground to Adidas in creating higher connect with World cup on social media networks in the first three weeks on the tournament.

While Adidas' association with Sachin Tendulkar must have helped, there are other triggers too. "We launched the pure cricket campaign almost a year before the tournament began, which helped us create a huge fan base," Adidas India Sales & Marketing Director Tushar Goculdas said.

The Adidas cricket Facebook page has more than 7 lakh fans now and counting.

"In today's world we need to acknowledge the presence of digital media, especially if the target audience is youth," LG India Chief Marketing Officer LK Gupta said. Before the world cup, LG had 50,000 fans on our Facebook page; today the numbers has gone up to 3.5 lakhs, he added. There are surprises for cricketing nations too. While no one thought of Ireland as worthy opponents to the Men in Blue on the cricket pitch, the minnows are ranked fifth among the teams that are discussed the most in social media.

India still leads the chart, but its share has dropped to 17% from more than 26% at the start of the tournament.

Now that the knockout stage has started, the buzz online is sure to heighten.

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