WWE Influence Translating to Profits

BradleyTMacDonald    March 3, 2016

When looking through the most influential brands on the internet you’ll see the usual suspects: YouTube, The New York Times, CNN. However, right up there with them is one of the biggest sports brands in the world. No, it isn’t the NFL (though they do pretty well) but the WWE – aka World Wrestling Entertainment.

How does a sports entertainment company based on staged fights based around staged feuds become one of the internet’s biggest influencers?

There’s always a laundry list of reasons companies are successful, however one of the reasons the WWE is such a media machine is their social media savvy and prowess for tracking data.

Stephanie McMahon is the chief brand officer of WWE, and also plays a “character” of herself during the company’s event – she narrowed the successes WWE has found in this era of digital media down to five main points.

She has identified the basics like maintaining engagement with their fans and having their employees – the wrestlers – participate in social media initiatives. But there’s clear successes coming from employing and studying metrics as well.

They’re currently sporting a Klout rating of 99 – the highest possible – putting them on-par with U.S. President Barack Obama. For some more context, superstar pop musicians Taylor Swift and Katy Perry (both very savvy themselves) each only have ratings is the low 90s. Of course, this is nothing to sniff at, but the influence WWE has is kind of absurd.

Klout is one of the most popular websites and apps that measures your collective online influence – examining the impacts made by your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and more – and assigning a corresponding rating.

Yes, a wrestling organization is just as influential online as the leader of the free world.

Now, arguments can be made that this kind of influence isn’t the greatest way to measure your organizational worth. From Jenn Deering Davis’ KISSmetrics blog:

“…audience size does not necessarily relate to influence. Just because someone has a lot of friends or followers, that does not mean they can encourage those followers to actually do anything.”

And that’s fair – something has to happen beyond following to measure actual influence. But the influence metrics here seem to work out. WWE trends on Facebook and Twitter every single week, and often multiple times per week, through their pay per view events, and the regular broadcasts of WWE Raw, and WWE SmackDown. Though the most interesting thing about all of this is the fact they don’t have that many followers, compared to some of the other titans.

Just over 6-million on Twitter and a little over 30-million on Facebook is pretty good, but is surprisingly low, considering their influence. Though when adding in YouTube and Instagram, they climb to about half a billion followers.

So…how do they do it?

As Nolan Wilson points out:

“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.”

The (relatively) newly-launched WWE Network has been a success and they’re seeing a steady rise in subscribers. The streaming service offers on-demand videos and content, as well as live events. WWE network provides another way for fans to engage online, and is another way for the sports entertainment giant to turn a profit.

They saw their influence, and were aware of their legacy. So they took the next big step, and it has been a success.

Lessons for Others

The big lesson here is that influence can be a great metric when examined and employed properly. It’s not enough to just enjoy a large amount of followers and park the bus.

You have to trend and be seen by millions, regularly. This requires a solid social media strategy and a buy-in from the entire organization. WWE has this – they have the followers, they have the regularly produced content, and they have a vibrant social media presence from their main accounts, as well as from their wrestlers.

No other sports entertainment brand can swing with their punches.

Note: communications representatives from WWE could not be reached for comment.

Organization: WWE
Industry: Sports Entertainment
Name of Organization Contact: Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer, WWE

Authored by: Brad MacDonald

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


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