Wrestling Lays the SmackDown on Second Screen Social TV

  |  October 23, 2013   |  Comments   |  

As TV networks and programs invest more in second screen apps and social TV to leverage the increase in mobile device and tablet usage, there’s much they can learn from wrestling.

When you think success on social media and Second Screen Mobile apps, wrestling might not come top of mind. But they reach 145 million fans through all their social channels and at SXSW this year the WWE Active app was announced as the #1 Second Screen app in the U.S. and the only live second screen app in the market. Spoiler alert… wrestling may be fake, BUT there’s nothing fake about the Second screen apps, catch up TV, social TV, and social media success WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) has achieved. Their weekly global RAW and SmackDown TV shows are continually the most socially active shows on broadcast and cable TV creating more social buzz than blockbuster shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones, AMC’s Mad Men, and TNT’s NBA PlayOffs.

As TV networks and programs invest more in second screen apps and social TV to leverage the increase in mobile device and tablet usage, there’s much they can learn from wrestling:

1. Make social and app interactions actually mean something

Answer the question: Why would people really want to engage with the content you have on a second screen app? WWE addressed this not just through exclusive content but by also allowing the WWE Active app’s custom in- poll functionality to actually influence live shows. They give control of certain parts of TV programming to users of the app, taking user generated and influenced content to the next level. Throughout the broadcast of their mainstream shows, the announcers, wrestlers, and managers will remind and encourage viewers to vote for their desired outcome of a particular instance in the show, from choosing match types and stipulations, right through to the opponents and wrestlers that they will see that night on TV. Empowering users to directly influence the show has worked wonders for the WWE and their second screen app, with certain terms trending worldwide on Twitter every time the show airs.

2. Constantly optimize based on usage and audience technology habits

The most successful mobile and tablet second screen apps are those that are synced with their audience’s technology habits and continually updated and optimized to make them bigger and better. WWE reaches 145 million fans through all their social channels and it’s clear from the amount of social media buzz that WWE realized viewers were watching programming with mobile devices or tablets in hand, thus allowing them to tailor the experience on their revised WWE Active App (launched in Dec 2012) to compliment user habits.

3. Always promote exclusive content

It should be no surprise that content is a key factor to second screen app success and it’s something the WWE have nailed. Every week they produce about 1,500 unique pieces of content for its website, which they in turn optimize across both their different social media sites and also for WWE Active.

At the end of every other ad break, WWE are quick to point out what viewers missed during the ad break, and preview what viewers could have seen on WWE Active if they had the app. This is a very powerful bit of marketing as it constantly reiterates to viewers the exclusiveness of the app content and what people are missing out on if they don’t have the app.

4. Encourage and reward conversation

Aside from WWE encouraging specific social hashtags for viewers to use during programming, they also reward specific users by displaying selected user generated social media content live on air. From live Tweets to even video Touts, the chance to have your content shown live on air further fuels social buzz and recognition.

The success of following these 4 principles mean not only deeper fan engagement and brand affinity for WWE, but they have seen a direct impact on their top line revenues. All of the WWE’s social media efforts and WWE Active app have helped increase WWE’s total revenue by 25 percent. Whether it’s generating social media content or designing the user experience on their WWE Active App, everything they focus on has the fan at the center point.

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Andy  Cronin

Andy Cronin is the lead community manager for Isobar in Australia, managing a team of social media community managers that are responsible for growing and managing the social media presence and fan engagement of major brands like Cadbury, GM Holden, and Lululemon. Over the last 6+ years, he has worked in the social media space alongside other brands like Telstra, Target, Jetstar, Red Rooster, and David Jones. Andy is a thought leader in social media in Australia, and is active in industry initiatives, including being on the board of Social Media Club Melbourne and guest lecturing at various universities and industry events on social media community management, strategy, and crises management.

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