A very few global sports fans consider WWE (formerly known as WWF) and promotional wrestling under the realms of legitimate sports. The world is often split when it comes to pro wrestling.
To some its fake wrestling and to some its entertainment through sports. Even with a disputing fan base it is truly remarkable as to how a wrestling promotion company over the years has transformed itself into a multimillion dollar empire.
Much of its success is credited to its creative leadership and its ability to adapt to new methods and understand business trends. Starting off as a family owned business in 1952 to a privately controlled and then publicly traded company today, the WWE has come a long way in redefining the spectrum of sports entertainment.
One of the standout features of WWE has been its ability to capture the digital space and establish a direct connection with its fans. No other sports promotional business in the world can boast of this achievement considering the global audience that WWE serves and the frequency at which do so.
With five weekly shows out of which three are televised live worldwide in over 180 countries and other two shows shown live 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.
Social Media Strategy
WWE utilizes the Internet to promote its brands; create a community experience among fans; market and distribute our offline, online and mobile products; and sell online advertising. The fact that WWE has a username @WWE throughout their social media channels suggests how serious they are with their online branding.
Let’s take a look at the various platforms employed by them in the digital/social media space.
In 2014 WWE.com and WWE App has an average of more than 21 million monthly unique visitors globally. These visitors viewed an average of more than 523 million pages and 52 million monthly video streams. WWE currently has location-based websites spanning 23 countries where fans can experience WWE in their own language with a concentration on events and shows in their region.
Some of the worldwide countries include China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the Middle East and Russia. Local sales agencies are selling ad inventory on WWE.com in more than eight countries.
WWE’s biggest announcement of 2014 was its launch of WWE Network. WWE Network is a subscription based video streaming service. Since its launch the network has now spread to over 140 countries. With over 1 million subscribers within 11 months of its launch it is today the world’s fastest growing digital subscription service ever. In an interview with Time, Michelle D. Wilson, chief revenue and marketing officer for WWE, sad that, “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”. This was a huge decision as WWE realized that after over 30 years of providing weekly shows and events via cable companies that now they could go directly to the homes of their viewers. The network today telecasts over 16 programs from its original video content monthly as well as a massive back catalogue of more than 1,500 hours of historical content.
WWE app was launched late last year and has since grossed over 5 million downloads. It has a rating of 4.5 on the android play store and 4 on the app store which means that the global fan base has received the app positively. The latest photographs, videos, news, updates are all available through the app, also the app can be used exclusively to tap into the WWE Network 24/7 in order to watch the scheduled program. Further the app interacts with fans while the show is both on air and off air.
WWE currently syndicates its video content on Hulu, YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, and other select video portals. The wide range of content includes: full length episodes and clips of Raw, SmackDown, Superstars, WWE NXT and a variety of classic content and original short-form webisodes.
Vines are widely regarded as the next wave of social media trends, WWE through its social media pages and through the official pages of their athletes actively upload vines for promotion and marketing of their events and shows. These vines gather large social media traction and are released either hours before a live show or post live show. The intention is to bring the fans back to WWE and its storylines as vines communicate the best message in the shortest period.
WWE has over 200 million followers on social media through their official account and accounts of their athletes and other affiliates, 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.
With a fan following of over 24 million, Facebook is an attractive and important forum for WWE. It is perhaps the most active of all of WWE’s social media platforms. WWE content trends on Facebook almost every week and responses and fan reactions collected in the process is priceless to the business. Hence Facebook is used an interactive forum where the business reaches out to connect with its fans and understand their preferences whilst promoting their business.
WWE has been present on twitter since July 2007 and today has close to 5 million twitter followers. Much like their website, Facebook and Instagram, twitter is used effectively by WWE to promote their business. Live events, Matches, Contests, Promotional Videos and social media campaigns. WWE’s content is trending on social media every week, for e.g. #CancelWWENetwork was at no.3 on top USA twitter trends post Sunday evenings Royal Rumble pay-per-view event along with #DanielBryan and #RomanReigns both coming in the top 10.
The latest social media app to hit the world has been snapchat. Organizations and brands around the world are only slowly getting accustomed to using a photo messaging application where the quality of the picture must communicate everything that the brand is trying to convey. WWE has lapped out this avenue and has mastered a way of communicating to its audience via snaps. Usually a WWE snap consists of purely backstage photos and videos that are not available on any other source.
Social Media Ambassador
WWE has a creative way of social media marketing by picking a social media ambassador to represent their social channels for a certain period. For eg in 2012 former undisputed heavyweight champion of boxing “Iron” Mike Tyson was invited to guest the episode of Raw and was simultaneously made the social media ambassador for the evening. Similar strategy was at display with Charlie Sheen, Larry King, Kevin Jonas, Gabriel Iglesias and Khloe Kardashian.