For as long as I can remember I have sat down and watched wrestling on TV, whether it be WWE (formally WWF), WCW or ECW. As the world has changed so too has wrestling. In the day WWE (WWF) we’re the trend setters and reaching first that only other organisations could dream of, First live show, first PayPerView event, first to use social media and so much more. The different organizations back in the late 90′s where at their prime with WWE owned by Vince McMahon, WCW owned by Ted Turner and ECW a smaller company compared to the other 2 but was still competing with them was owned by Paul Heyman.
Since going through different era’s including whats thought to have been the best era in the WWE The Attitude Era (as highlighted in the video below), Vince sought to wipe out his competition and bought WCW and ECW in what became a story line and a new era in the WWE The Invasion era. This then left the WWE with no real competition in the US and so began in many fans opinions the downward spiral from an aggressive wrestling company with top action, characters (wrestlers) with attitudes and an anything goes a type of show to what is now known as a PG era and losing some of its older audience, Yet the machine still rolls on recently celebrating some big milestones including its 1,000th episode of Monday Night Raw (also known as Raw Is War), airing on July 23, 2012
So in today’s world how dose WWE survive with no real competition in the US ( I know some will be saying what about TNA, Well lets be honest TNA isnt a major threat to WWE yet), It draws in millions of dollars from merchandise sales, PayPerView sales and sponsorship. It also does a lot more for the fans to see their product compared to back in the day, it now runs WWE AXXESS before big PayPerView events for meet and greets, Q & A’s, small matches and merchandise sales for people unable to get tickets to the big show. WWE have also grasped engaging with their fans (now know as WWE Universe) during events and between events by using social media they have become one of the biggest in the world, with worldwide trending #Tags on Twitter, Videos on Tout, likes and status updates on Facebook and so much more…..But how are they doing this so well?
The answer lies within in the machine in a lot of ways, part of which starts back in early 2006 when WWE launched the PayPerView Cyber Sundays. The most distinctive feature of Cyber Sunday is the ability for fans to vote on certain aspects of every match. The voting typically begins in the middle of an episode of Raw a few weeks beforehand and ends during the pay-per-view, often moments before the match is slated to begin. Because of this, Cyber Sunday is billed as an “interactive pay-per-view”. For the first four events, voting was made online through WWE.com, with the official tag line for the PPV being “Log On. Take Over.” In 2008 however, this was replaced by votes through text messaging but this is only available to United States mobile carriers. However, the match between The Undertaker and The Big Show was made universal, as fans were allowed to vote for the match stipulation on WWE.com, In 2009, the event’s Pay-Per-View slot was replaced by Bragging Rights, Since the WWE became so big on social media roumors have run and fans have called for a return to the platform but only time will tell if this ever happens.
Below are screen shots of 5 of the best twitter accounts (I feel) connected to the WWE as you can see they run the a main WWE twitter account but then branching off you have one for the WWE Universe (the fan) and the WWE wrestlers themselves, all activity tweet day in day out about things relating to shows, feuds, merchindise available on the wwe shop and some of their personal life. During the shows/PayPerViews and in between shows/PayPerViews the Superstars of WWE are actively tweeting and engaging with fans and other superstars. As part of their training WWE superstars go through media training this includes, Facebook, Twitter and Tout and are encouraged to stay in character while using these platforms.
One Superstar to achive startdom through social media is Zack Ryder, having been in the WWE for many years and not geting a push (a run at the main championships) he has found stardom on twitter, facebook and youtube. Ryder started a YouTube web series called Z! True Long Island Story in February 2011, which has amassed over 12 million views to date. The web series is a collection of short comments from Ryder, containing comedic allusions to wrestling and pop culture; it also features cameos from his friends and family, as well as fellow WWE colleagues.The show’s theme song Just Take Care, Spike Your Hair was written specifically about Ryder by The Luke & Duane Show. In April 2011, Ryder proclaimed himself WWE Internet Champion complete with a children’s replica belt covered in stickers, as it was unsanctioned by WWE.In July 2011, Ryder defended his Internet Championship at a house show in Australia, against Primo.He later said on Z! True Long Island Story that it was a non-title match, and that he would never defend his Internet Championship. On a later episoded, Dolph Ziggler challenged Ryder to an Internet title match at Wrestlemania 29, and Ryder accepted.[Ryder soon replaced the toy belt with a $1,500 custom-made belt by Wildcat Championship Belts in July 2011. The belt’s center plate features an engraved illustration of Ryder’s head while the side plates display his logo and those of YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.On episode 50 of Z! True Long Island Story, Ryder announced the show will be part of WWE’s YouTube funded channel. Z! True Long Island Story ended on January 11, 2013 which was the show’s 100th episode. The show was “ended” by Dolph Ziggler, who attacked Ryder with his MITB briefcase, setting up a dream sequence featuring cameos from people who had previously appeared on the show while Ryder climbed a staircase to “heaven”. When Ryder woke up, he thought that the Ryder Revolution was all a dream until being told by his family and friends that it all happened.Overall, the series ran 50 episodes on Zack Ryder’s YouTube channel and 50 episodes on WWE’s official YouTube channel. Ryder later said that he regretted allowing WWE to move his show to their YouTube channel, and that WWE had removed content from his videos. Ryder teased restarting Z! True Long Island Story in both April and May 2013, but the show ultimately did not return.
Ryder has over 1,300,000 followers on Twitter,over 600,000 Facebook “likes”, and over 120,000 YouTube subscribers. This led him to be featured in Sports Illustrated’s list of the 100 most influential social media users in sports. Ryder became the fourth WWE performer to reach 1 million followers on Twitter on January 14, 2013, minutes after the conclusion of the 20th Anniversary episode of Raw
The next biggest example of this came to front last year when the WWE realized the potential of social media with the run up to and during Wrestlemaina 28 ( WWE’s biggest stage of the year on PayPerView) when what was billed as Once In A Life Time The Rock (
@TheRock) returning after a 7 year absence from WWE the former face of the WWE was feuding and fighting with John Cena (@JohnCena) the current picture boy of the WWE. Their feud was aired over their live and per-recorded shows, it also spilled out over twitter, tout and Facebook, It was the first time a feud in WWE history was played out this way and the fans lapped it up sending out RT, likes, reply’s and more to support and fight each superstar respectively (as in the examples below).
After the main Wrestlemaina event WWE was able to release these stats….
- The high level of social engagement delivered record traffic to WWE.com, and a 30% increase over traffic during Wrestlemania the year before.
- The hashtag #Wrestlemania was mentioned more than 610,000 times on April 1.
- Despite being a pay-per-view broadcast, Wrestlemania was TV’s most socially engaged program on April 1, according to Trendrr.
- A partnership with YouTube to deliver Wrestlemania content gained a total of more than 3.9 million views for the week surrounding the event
- It generated 110 worldwide #tag trends over the show and pre-show’s five-hour period one of the biggest at the time for a televised program.
As well as actively engaging with the WWE universe via Twitter and Facebook, they also use a social network called tout a social media network were people connect by making short 15 second videos , WWE seen a lot of potential in this and on July 12th 2012 they announced ”investment in and strategic partnership with Tout Industries Inc” this has since been reported to been worth $5 million but would not disclose what percentage of the company that sum represents.
So looking at the main WWE page on the 2 Major social media sites Facebook and Twitter based on the 24hr period from 09:00 July 23rd – July 24th I have noticed these stat changes.
- Their Twitter followers on the WWE (@wwe) account went from 3111378 followers to 3,119,326 a rise of +7,948 yesterday.
- They sent out 32 tweets consisting of offers on WWE shop on-line, updates about how their helping the Make A Wish charity and more
- They had 360 #Tags this being a day after their live Monday night show
- Their Facebook page had growth of 5096 likes
- They posted 24 new posts ranging from competitions, to old school videos on their youtube account to posts about the 30th anniversary of their mag (alot of these posts have had several likes and shares).
Since realizing how big social media is WWE has developed its own app, The app is currently available on the iOS, Android and Windows 8 platforms. This application features exclusive information, breaking news, show content and results. There are currently more than 5.7 million worldwide downloads, And its growing now they carry out a LIVE votes during live shows to determine some of the matches in the following ways, what stipulation a fight will have out of a choice of 3 and what wrestler another will fight out of a choice of 3, They also now encourage fans to watch live exclusive footage during ad breaks and after shows. This all bring fans closer to the action and ”The Universe” becomes more involved.
WWE clearly has seen and accepted that social media is a very important tool and unlike some other big companies embraced it straight away, use it to their advantage,and they have also included it in their story lines and pushed it to new levels. Now you’ll see many other big companies seeing what the WWE have done and jumping on the band wagon and looking to make social media work for them.
WWE is one of the companies leading the social media race and unlike some it will not be left behind.
THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED AGAIN VERY SOON AS WWE ARE GETTING BACK TO ME WITH MORE INFORMATION VERY SOON
My next post will take a look at how large companies engage fans/customers with photos on social media.
Links to pages used.