Alisha Lehmann: Rising as the most influential women’s player on Instagram

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Swiss footballer Alisha Lehmann has emerged as the most influential women’s player on Instagram, ahead of the Women’s World Cup. With a follower count of 13.5 million, Lehmann has seen a substantial growth of 75% in the past year, surpassing American footballer Alex Morgan, as reported by Nielsen Sports. Lehmann’s growing popularity on Instagram reflects the increasing significance of social media platforms in amplifying the reach and influence of professional athletes beyond their sporting achievements.

Jon Stainer, Nielsen’s Global Managing Director, offered his insight into this phenomenon, “The exceptional footballers of the 2023 World Cup are not only demonstrating prowess in sport. They are expanding their sphere of influence, driving significant conversations on social media, and fostering authentic relationships with their fan base.”

Lehmann’s substantial growth on social media has propelled her beyond the boundary of football, as she eclipses the legendary Swiss tennis player Roger Federer in terms of Twitter followers. Her partnership with an array of brands such as Boohoo, Gisada, MJ Jones, EA Sports, and Coca Cola has demonstrated her versatility and appeal.

However, Lehmann has not shied away from the less glamorous side of social media. She has candidly addressed the issue of online bullying, echoing her experiences in UEFA’s 2022 “Respect” campaign.

In a frank conversation with talkSPORT, Lehmann highlighted a paradox that her fame has brought along. With her social media profile often overshadowing her career as a professional footballer, she shared, “Some people just see Instagram and social media and don’t even know I actually play football … When I don’t post a football picture for a week, people say, ‘Oh she doesn’t even play.'”

Besides Lehmann, other influential figures in women’s football, such as Spain’s midfielder Alexia Putellas, U.S. striker Morgan, and England’s captain Leah Williamson (unfortunately sidelined due to a knee injury), have been recognised for their significant reach. Lehmann and Putellas’ Instagram posts are believed to contribute over $100,000 in media value to their partnered brands.

Interestingly, German forward Jule Brand from VfL Wolfsburg has witnessed the highest growth among Nielsen’s top-10 most influential footballers, with a follower increase of 517% in the past year.

Completing the top 10 list are globally admired footballers Megan Rapinoe (U.S.), Marta (Brazil), Jordyn Huitema (Canada), Alessia Russo (England), and Sakina Karchaoui (France).

Nielsen’s InfluenceScope, a comprehensive tool that evaluates follower growth, engagement rate, audience reachability, and average brand value per post on Instagram, served as the basis for these rankings. This assessment gauges the extent to which footballers can enhance the value of their sponsorships through social media.

Whilst Cristiano Ronaldo remains unmatched among male players, with over 530 million Instagram followers, it’s the rise of footballers like Lehmann that illustrates the transformative role of women footballers in the social media domain. As we approach the World Cup kick-off on July 20 in Australia and New Zealand, it’s evident that these influential women are set to enthral audiences, both on the field and across digital platforms.

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