With over 23 million fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, the WWE has long been a standout brand in terms of harnessing social media for brand awareness and tremendous amounts of fan engagement.
In a session for SXSW interactive on Saturday, Echo’s CEO and Co-Founder Khris Loux joined the WWE’s Perkins Miller, Stephanie McMahon, and Superstar John Cena to discuss how the brand’s integrated marketing and content strategies are driving that engagement by connecting their Superstars directly with the brand’s fans while delivering exclusive content and real-time experiences that demonstrate the potential of social TV. Beyond engagement with fans, however, they offered some more interesting insights into how social media has become a key part of every brand initiative.
Here’s some takeaways from this piledriver of a session.
No More Fear of Social Media
Cena, like many brands, was initially skeptical about joining social networks. He wasn’t sure just how much transparency he wanted to offer fans of the WWE, and had thought of the horror stories of misguided tweets. In the end, he’s been won over by social media’s ability to connect with fans of the John Cena and WWE brands. Many brands are still skeptical, but John Cena has seen that skepticism disappear now that’s he’s joined the platforms and started engaging.
New Branding Opportunities can be Created on Social
Cena discussed the time an on air comment made by one of his famous opponents, The Rock, regarding his colorful appearance bearing a resemblance to a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, trended on Twitter. Fruity Pebbles became a top trend that night and Cena has gone on to sponsor the product. He notes “I was the first celebrity to displace Fred Flintstone on a box of cereal.”
Social Media for Every Department of your Brand
Perkins Miller, EVP of Digital Media, notes that social has become so embedded in the WWE corporate culture that Chairman Vince McMahon requires weekly reporting from each department on how they have used social media to drive business goals that week. Not simply Marketing and PR departments; but HR, finance, investor relations, etc.
Transparency Has Many Benefits
Loux and McMahon also discussed how, as a public company, the WWE uses social media to keep investors up-to-date on all of the goings on within the brand. They note the WWE Investor Twitter account as an example. Loux says with social, there’s no longer a need for investors or potential investors to sit and wait for each quarterly report. Doling out small chunks of information, even in tweet form, has proven vital in keeping investors fully informed.
Social Media and Monitoring Instant Reaction
Miller notes that after every Monday Night Raw program, the brand produces detailed social media reports including sentiment analysis. They’re keen to see just how social media users are reacting to the characters and stories they’re met with every week. McMahon notes that it’s important to put human eyes on sentiment analysis. “If the bad guy is getting negative sentiment, that’s a very good thing.” The brand can also see which moments, which interviews, and which zingers really landed that night. The next “Fruity Pebbles” moment could be splashed across that next top selling T-shirt. Social media’s instant response is essential for the brand to react quickly to produce new products and content that strike a chord with their audience.
(Note: This post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog on March 9, 2013.)