Here is a sample of a piece I wrote about the success of WWE’s usage of social media. Enjoy!
The #RAW Truth of WWE’s Social Media Success
SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION
Over the past few years, social media has become an addiction. Ask yourself how many times you check your social media sites in a day. With more than two billion social media users worldwide, 18% of users can’t go a few hours without checking Facebook. If you’re ages 20-29, you spend an average of about 2 hours of your day on social media (Bennett). This social media addiction was causing a decline in TV viewing. Do you know anyone that turns a show on but is on their phone the entire time? I live with one. With the increasing popularity of social media, TV networks have been forced to think of ways to keep fans interested and engaged.
Many networks now are providing platforms that offer interaction. Social television is growing rapidly. According to Shiv Kamal, Marketing Manager at Clearbridge Mobile, 84% of smartphone and tablet owners say they use their devices while watching TV, and more than 1 million Americans are active on Twitter during programming. While watching shows, networks are now including hashtags on the screen so fans can tweet their reactions or opinions on a certain episode or a specific event that occurred in the show. The increasing Twitter conversation during live programming is proof that there is higher engagement with programming among the general viewing audience (Nielsen).
SOCIAL TV CHAMPIONS
One network taking full advantage of “second screen” and succeeding is WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. Even if you don’t watch any WWE programming, I bet you’ve at least heard the name. WWE was seeing a decline in their viewings, and knew if something didn’t change, trouble was ahead. Wrestling may not be taken seriously to many people, but their social media presence is no joke.
They were one of the first companies to adopt technology early, launching a digital media department and website in May 1998 (Wilson). WWE has won numerous social media awards and are always ‘ahead of the game’ when it comes to technology and connecting with their fans through social media.
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.
WHAT SETS THEM APART FROM THE COMPETITION?
Every decision WWE makes is with social media in mind. They listen to the fans and create content they want on a platform they want (Otterson). Their digital strategy has received praise and admiration from their competitors. Here are just a few pieces of the WWE formula which got them the dominating fan-base they have today.
Fans appreciate feeling acknowledged, and feeling like they’re being heard. Using Twitter, WWE has let fans decide on which matches they want to see, and has even held votes on which characters they want to see fight in a specific match, and the results are shown on live TV.
During each match, there is a hashtag in the top left corner of the screen (as seen in the image below) that fans can use to tweet about the show, live event, or a specific match. This encourages the viewers to engage in the conversation on social media. The main hashtags are #RAW for their Monday night show, and #SmackdownLive for their Tuesday night show. Then they will throw in hashtags for specific matches. For example, this past Monday there were two match hashtags: #MixedTag (mixed gender match) and #RollinsvsJericho (specific to the two competitors in that match).
WWE can also tell what the fans want by their live events. Fans tell WWE what they like by cheering, and what they don’t like by booing (Wilson). Paying attention to this is extremely important. Happy fans lead to more engagement and greater achievement for the business.
Each superstar has social media accounts so fans can interact with their favorite all-stars at a more personal level. The talent “uses their social media accounts to continue to drive storyline and engagement” (Wilson). They can share photos, post videos, take fans ‘behind the scenes’, and they can do it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This engages the fans beyond the air time and increases fan loyalty.
One of the great things about WWE and their superstars is their contribution to charity. They might play ‘rough and tough’ on TV, but many of them are involved in community and charitable organizations. By use of social media, they can spread the word about many of the great causes they support:
- 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.
Click here to see a video for the ‘Connor’s Cure’ charity fund, honored by the WWE.
Personal Social Media Engagement
I was never a fan of wrestling until I met my fiancé, and it took me a good 6 months to even give it a chance. Now as much as I made fun of it, I had two choices: be miserable watching it, or give it a chance because he likes it, and I decided to give it a chance. I’m usually embarrassed to even say I watch it, but they know how to reel you in with their ‘soap opera’ like storylines. I am now a part of the “WWE Universe” (the WWE fan-base).
I’ve been a ‘fan’ for about 2 years now. Since then I watch both of their weekly shows, Raw and Smackdown Live, and I’ve been to two live shows in Connecticut. During these live shows I’ve posted pictures on social media using their hashtags.
On a weekly basis I use Twitter to see people’s reactions, or to see the results if I miss the show, but I normally don’t tweet. I did this week due to the assignment, but since I don’t have many friends interested in wrestling, it didn’t go very far for me.
I do have to say, WWE has the most loyal social media fan base I’ve ever seen. Just like you would know every song when seeing your favorite singer live, the fans know each superstar’s entrance music, and every chant. You can sense the loyalty and excitement in the atmosphere the second you step into the arena. WWE has done an incredible job at utilizing “second screen” during their TV broadcasts. They will continue to strive to stay ahead in the social media market, and to involve their fan base as much as possible. If WWE stays on this path, they have more and more success to look forward to as their company grows.