If your company is looking for new ways to approach social media and expand your brand’s presence online, there is perhaps no better example of how to use social media than World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
While some people may think wrestling is fake (we’ll leave this debate to the pro wrestling forums), there is nothing fake or exaggerated about the WWE’s awesome social media marketing strategy. In fact, WWE has emerged as a true champion of the social media landscape.
WWE has become so much more than a professional wrestling company. What was once a regional, family-run company has grown into a publicly traded, global entertainment company. How has the company grown so much over the years? Through innovation. Through decades of adaptation, WWE has developed a reputation for being an innovator and an early adopter of new technology. Launching a digital media department and website in May 1998, WWE has never looked back.
We aren’t the only ones who are fans of their social strategy. WWE are the winners of numerous social media awards such as, the “Digital Company of the Year” and being coined as a “Must Follow Brand on Social Media” (2011 Mashable Awards), and as a perennial finalist and winner of Shorty Awards for the “Best in Social Media.” They are always at the forefront of using technology and social media to connect directly with their fans, thus providing them with unique experiences that no other sports or entertainment brand can match.
Everything WWE does today is with social media in mind. The amount of weekly content and the size of their social media presence is staggering.
“With five weekly shows out of which three are televised live worldwide in over 180 countries and the other two shows streaming through online media, WWE is available for over 12 live hours a week and has a total of 360 million social media followers across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat combined,” as outlined in 10 Social Media platforms used by WWE.
Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s Chief Brand Officer, expands on WWE’s social media marketing dominance in a recent interview with Inc.com:
“Today, the WWE airs its weekly live events in 150 countries and reaches 650 million homes worldwide, and has a total of 360 million social media followers across its wrestlers’ and its own Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. WWE trends worldwide every week on Twitter,” says McMahon. She adds, “WWE’s mission is all about putting smiles on people’s faces. There’s so much power in making someone smile and to share those smiles across social media is one of my goals.”
5 Ways WWE Became a Social Media Champion
During the interview with Inc.com, McMahon provides some insight into how their social media marketing has become so successful:
- Engaging the Fans
“It’s not just about your message,” states McMahon. “The other half of social media is listening and responding. Fans, consumers, and customers appreciate that extra level of personal attention and responsiveness from any brand.” WWE has been able to capitalize on various social platforms by giving the fans what they want, when they want it (which is right now, live, straight to the veins).
- Employee Participation
One of the true keys to success on social media for WWE is employee buy-in. All of their wrestlers and performers have embraced social media, allowing the average fan to interact with their heroes on a more personal level. “Our talent uses their social media accounts to continue to drive storyline and engagement. It creates an ecosystem for our fans to continue storylines throughout the week 24/7,” McMahon says.
- Timing is Everything
WWE makes it a point to strike while the iron is hot and focus on engaging with their fans across their social networks at the right time. Here is what McMahon has to say about timing and sharing on social media:
“Timing, in terms of getting something out there in real time because it’s happening in the world, is key. The picture doesn’t have to be perfect, you need your information to be correct, but it’s [more important to be] in real time.”
Stephanie also practices what she preaches, taking advantage of this year’s Super Bowl:
- Don’t Fight Campaigns Against You
With the nature of their business and with a fan base that is not afraid to voice their displeasure with current WWE programming, WWE has experienced a number of online protests from their fans, often in the form of hashtag campaigns such as #HijackRaw and most recently #CancelWWENetwork – read more about this in a recent article by Time: Wrestling Fans Lash Out With ‘#CancelWWENetwork’
In regards to the #HijackRaw revolt, McMahon talks about WWE’s approach to embracing negative campaigns against them. “A lot of companies would’ve thought that this was trouble and say, ‘Oh, my God, what do we do?’ But for WWE, it wasn’t even a question because our whole strategy is to engage our audience.”
Rather than fight it, WWE integrated the concept into their weekly programming, which resulted in #HijackRaw being a worldwide trend on Twitter, while also showing fans their voices matter. Ignoring the concerns of their fans wasn’t a viable option, and WWE clearly wants to be accountable to their viewers.
- Your Fans are Your Secret Sauce
Your social media followers tell you a lot about which direction you should take your social media marketing strategy and what content you should be sharing on social media. “Our fans are the secret to our success. They tell us what they like by cheering, they tell us what they don’t like by booing, and–worse–they tell us what they don’t care about by being silent,” McMahon says. Paying attention to these viewer trends is really key for targeting content for their users—keeping them engaged.
WWE’s Massive Social Landscape
WWE is truly a social media goliath. With hundreds of millions of fans across many different social platforms, the sheer volume of content and management requirements is staggering. We explored their social strategy across several top platforms:
Followers: 24,503,201 and growing.
Content Focus: News, promotions, performer profiles, video highlights from weekly TV programming, polls, and exclusive interviews.
Post Volume: Approximately one new post per hour – with most posts receiving a minimum of 20,000 likes or more.
WWE uses Facebook in a variety of ways to engage users, gather their opinions, and provide them with additional content that is in alignment with their weekly TV programming. They rely heavily on video and photo content and use it to drive fans to the company website.
WWE also has company fan pages for all of their superstars; and each one of these pages has millions of followers. WWE’s main star, John Cena, actually has more fans than the WWE Facebook page itself. Cena has more than 36 million fans for his page alone. These superstar’s specific pages allow WWE to provide content that is catered specifically to the superstar and their fans.
Followers: 5 million and growing.
Content Focus: News, fan interaction, Q and A’s with superstars, retweet superstar tweets, and photos/video from live events.
Post Volume: Multiple posts per hour.
Twitter is perhaps the crown jewel of their social media marketing strategy. They regularly have a worldwide trend on Twitter, and are always trending between 8-11 pm every Monday night when the company’s flagship TV show, WWE RAW, is live. WWE also uses their main Twitter account as an aggregate for content produced from their dozens of other twitter accounts.
How far does their Twitter network reach? “WWE’s social media team acts as support for more than 190 Twitter accounts personally managed by WWE and WWE NXT Superstars and Divas, announcers and personalities, with a combined following of more than 79 million followers, as outlined on the shortyawards.com. 18 of their superstars have more than 1 million followers on their personal Twitter accounts, with John Cena leading the way, with more than 6.8 million followers.”
WWE’s dedication to sharing on social media has not gone unnoticed. “WWE’s Twitter presence was recognized in 2013 as one of the Top 25 Most Engaging Brands on Twitter by Nestivity. Also, WWE is regularly recognized as one of the Top 10 Social Media Brands in the world by the Dachis Group’s Social Business Index, and is one of only eight brands in the world to have a perfect 99 Klout rating as a measure of social influence.
Followers: 3.5 Million+
Content Focus: News, promotions, performer profiles, video highlights from weekly TV programming, and exclusive website content.
Post Volume: Approximately 10 posts per day.
To no surprise to anyone who has followed WWE on social media, the company embraced Google+ when it was first introduced. With more than 180 million views, it’s clear that WWE fans have embraced the brand on a platform that many companies overlook or rarely use. It gives them yet another touch-point for their users, and gives them the opportunity to reach a wider audience because of it.
Followers: 5 million+ subscribers.
Content Focus: Promotional videos, superstar features, TV programming summary videos, recaps, full length episodes, classic videos, original webisodes.
Video views: 2.6 Billion+
WWE’s use of YouTube, as well as other online video platforms such as Hulu, Yahoo, and AOL, is astronomical. With more than 2.5 billion video views, 20,000 videos across 25 channels, there is no shortage of video content for their fans to engage with.
Followers: 1.5 million
Content Focus: Fan photos and exclusive behind the scenes content.
Post Volume: 3-5 posts daily.
WWE uses Instagram to give fans something they always want more of — behind the scenes photos of the superstars before and after shows, in the studio, and while out and about during their days off. It helps cultivate the emotional connection for the fans through sharing personal images.
“Instagram definitely plays a huge role in their social media presence. Every live show moment, as well as pre and post-show behind the scenes, are captured via Instagram and instantly uploaded updating those fans who may or may not have an alternate source for keeping up with the day to day events of WWE,” as stated in 10 Social Media platforms used by WWE.
Use of Social Media on WWE’s Website
WWE.com attracts more than 21 million monthly unique visitors worldwide, with visitors viewing an average of more than 523 million pages and 52 million monthly video streams. The company also has more than 20 location-based websites, allowing fans from across the globe to experience WWE in their own language.
However, no strategy is 100% perfect, and if there’s one thing for which you could criticize WWE, it’s the lack of presence of social share button on their homepage. The share buttons are located on the bottom right corner of the page, and without scrolling, users are not able to immediately see the social media icons.
They do make good use of share buttons on the interior website pages and integrating social media content on their website.
Check out the top left corner: the social share buttons are immediately visible in this article that summarizes the best photos from WWE’s Instagram page over the past week. They also integrate the Twitter handle for the superstar featured in the image. In this image of The Rock, his Twitter handle, @therock, is featured in the bottom right corner — allowing users to follow up and connect with The Rock on Twitter to see more images and engage with him.
The Latest Innovation: WWE Network
2014 was dubbed a huge year for WWE with the launch of the WWE Network. Think Netflix for professional wrestling, basically a subscription-based video streaming service. Since its launch, the network is now available in more than 140 countries and has surpassed 1 million subscriptions within its first year. Featuring thousands of hours of on demand content, plus live events, exclusive programming only seen on the WWE Network, and original programming, the network gives users access via their computer, Smartphone or tablet for only $9.99 per month.
In a recent interview with Time, Michelle D. Wilson, Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer for WWE, stated, “Digital over-the-top offerings represent the future, and given that our passionate fans consume five times more online video content than non-WWE viewers and over-index for purchasing online subscriptions such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, we believe the time is now for a WWE Network.”
WWE’s Keys to Social Media Marketing Success
- Using Social Media to Promote and Raise Awareness
While many think of WWE as a rough and tough company, their heart and dedication to giving back is a big part of their brand identity. They are involved in many community and charitable organizations and use social media to help spread the word about these great causes:
- To date, WWE has donated more than $1.2 million to fund breast cancer research during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
- The WWE’s Wrestlemania Reading Challenge.
- Be A Star Anti Bullying Campaign.
- Make A Wish – WWE superstar John Cena holds the record of granting more than 400 wishes to date.
WWE does their best to make kids’ dreams come true, and they created a wonderful video and shared it on their social media accounts, which again, keeps them in relevant conversation:
- Multi-Screen Experiences
WWE is also in the app business, and to date, their app has been downloaded more than 16 million times. WWE uses the app to engage viewers during their television program. They ask fans poll questions, offer exclusive content during commercial breaks, and ask users to engage and enter the conversations using hashtags. They also frequently read tweets live on the air, creating a multi-screen experience for their fans during live TV programming.
“It’s not in their nature to be shy, and having committed to social media they’ve not been half-hearted about it. Twitter handles are displayed when they enter the ring, every single live show has a hashtag, and the commentators plug the social channels. It may seem like a lot, but they didn’t get to over 172 million combined followers by accident,” says Andy Vale, in SMACKDOWN! Why Wrestlers Are Getting More Social Media Interaction Than Your Brand.
- Social Media Ambassador
One of the most creative uses of social media by WWE is the use of a social media ambassador to boost their social presence and reach during their Monday Night Raw Live TV broadcasts.
The role of the social media ambassador is to live tweet during the TV show about the events and developments. In the past, WWE has used the likes of Mike Tyson, Charlie Sheen, Kevin Jonas, Khloe Kardashian, Larry King, Criss Angel, and many other celebrities.
WWE is a leader in social media. They are innovative, early adopters of evolving concepts, and most importantly, they know how to engage their fans across all social media platforms—creating a unique and engaging social media experience that has their fans always coming back for more. We aren’t the only ones who have noticed, their growing fanbase and impressive social awards have proved that they are a true champion of social media marketing.
This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: How WWE Lays the Smackdown on Social Media Marketing
More Digital & Social articles from Business 2 Community: