If you have watched any of WWE’s programming in the past few months you probably noticed that it’s investing a great deal of time plugging its social media presence. While the effects that this has had on the quality of its programming are an entirely different issue, it’s hard to argue that the WWE is using social media to its fullest potential.
This past Monday, WWE hosted their annual “Slammy Award” Edition of Monday Night Raw. This award show asks the viewers, (or “WWE Universe”), to vote for the winners of various categories, including “Match of the Year”, and “Superstar of the Year”. This year however, WWE has decided t o take a different approach to the matter. In past years, fans have been asked to vote on WWE.com for the winners. This Monday, In accordance with WWE’s “Raw Active” initiative, which allows viewers to vote forthings like match stipulations and opponents weekly, fans were required to download the WWE application, and vote from their mobile devices. As a result, the app has been downloaded by more than 3 million users. Consequently, WWE announced that the app saw more than 24,000 updates on Monday. This practice is known as a “second screen” experience. Predictably, this refers to the viewers using their mobile devices to interact with the program that they are watching on television. With Raw Active, WWE has become a leading presence in second screen technology, and Monday’s Slammy Awards might be the best example of this to date.
The most noticeable social media influence on WWE’s programming is the excessive use of Twitter. Every time something WWE-related trends on Twitter, a graphic appears on the screen telling viewers about it, and broadcaster, Michael Cole, will explain that the hashtag is “now trending worldwide”. WWE superstars are using this as a vehicle to get noticed, and will come up with hashtag-friendly catchphrases that fans can tweet about.
WWE recently invested money in a new social media technology known as “Tout”. Tout allows mobile device users to record short videos of themselves responding to the WWE, or specific superstars. WWE then takes some of these videos and puts them up on Raw every week. Although WWE is not the only company that uses this technology, it is one of the first to really embrace it. Although it was early to adapt to Tout, WWE really just started maximizing the potential of YouTube over the last year or so. WWE has several different original shows on its YouTube channel, hosted by WWE superstars. This ranges from Zack Ryder’s “True Long Island Story”, to Dolph Ziggler’s “WWE Download”, (a PG-friendly rip-off of Tosh.0). WWE fans can now watch their favorite superstars and divas whenever they want.
While there is a solid argument to be had that WWE is diluting their product with the excessive social media presence, don’t expect the company to stop this practice any time soon. As the results of Monday’s Slammy Award edition of Raw has proved, WWE is an innovator in social media, and it will continue to expand their fan base in areas beyond the television audience.