The Company Every Social Media Marketing Professional Should Study Is…

 


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Now before you roll your eyes and say to yourself “what do a bunch of grown men fake fighting in Spandex have to do with social media marketing”, give me a minute to explain.

This morning, WWE announced that their collective social media accounts have now surpassed 500,000,000 followers. No, I didn’t accidentaly add too many zeros. We’re talking HALF A BILLION people. Yes, there are going to be several instances of people following multiple WWE social media accounts, but that is an absolutely staggering number nonetheless.

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So now you might be thinking “yeah, that’s great but what does it have to do with me?”.

The answer of course is everything.

Most companies are exceptionally bad at social media. It is treated as a second class citizen and in many cases the responsibility is given to interns or entry level employees. This is why you see so many social “mistakes” in the form of inappropriate tweets and posts. The reality is that social media is a huge part of marketing and is one of the key public personas that companies have. As a result, a company without a social media strategy is going to eventually run into some serious PR problems.

With the WWE, we’re talking about a company who not only jumps on every social media platform as soon as it gains traction. We’re talking about a company that understands social media is not a one way megaphone. Social media is a key channel for developing extremely powerful, emotional connections and responses from customers.

Twitter is a regular feature for WWE televised programming, as they are consistently reminding viewers to tweet about their performers and matches with suggested hashtags that remain as a persistent graphic for the duration of the segment. When the company’s current champion Seth Rollins is performing, there’s always a suggested hashtag on screen. When he goes up against Dean Ambrose this weekend, there will be some form of a #rollinsvsambrose that shows up on your screen. The commentators will remind the viewing audience to tweet using that hashtag. Once the hashtag trends #1 worldwide (which most of their hashtags do during events), they commentators will remind the audience again by letting them know the hashtag is trending #1 worldwide and to get in on the conversation.

The real key though is keeping the audience engaged, especially when WWE isn’t on TV. Take the recent back and forth between WWE performer Stardust and Arrow’s Stephen Amell. Over the past two weeks, they’ve been trading barbs on Twitter. This was followed up by Amell showing up at a live WWE Raw event to further the “feud”. Most are speculating that this will conclude with a match between the two at Summerslam (one of the WWE’s 4 biggest specials).

Using social media to add depth to storylines is very next level, forward thinking strategy from a social media perspective. Doing so means that the company is no longer limited to running stories during 10 minute segments on their two primary shows (Raw and Smackdown). If used properly, this strategy can add serious depth and interest to a storyline. It also allows for quite a bit of fan interaction, which brings me to my next point:

When it comes to one on one social media interaction, WWE absolutely tears the house down.

Sticking with the Seth Rollins example (he is the champ after all), this is a guy who has close to 1 million followers by himself but still takes the time to favorite and/or retweet posts from fans who wear his gear. On June 6th, four of Rollins’ tweets were retweets of messages from fans wearing one of his shirts. Here’s one of them:

This guy has a whopping 136 followers (which by the way is still more than me), so the retweet clearly wasn’t about Seth getting more followers. This was purely a “thank you for repping me and buying my gear”. If you look at the guy’s Twitter page, he’s clearly a huge fan, so think about how much this guy likely marked out (IWC slang for “got super excited and acted like a little kid as the result of something wrestling related that happened”) when Rollins retweeted him.

I can speak from personal experience that it is an absolute riot when someone you’re a fan of favorites or retweets you. A month or so ago, I bought a shirt from an Indy wrestler named Colt Cabana. I’ve never seen him wrestle, but I love his podcast, so I wanted to throw him some love (and to any IWC folks reading this blog, yes, I do get the irony of wearing a Colt tee to a live WWE event). I bought one of his shirts and tweeted this when I was ready to break it out:


A few minutes later, my phone chirped and sure enough Colt favorited my tweet. Colt’s following is smaller than Rollins (he’s got about 220k followers), but the point is still valid:

  • I start listening to his podcast
  • I like his podcast enough to buy a shirt
  • I write a tweet picturing the shirt and mentioning Cabana
  • I get a favorite from Cabana
  • I keep listening to Cabana’s podcast
  • I tell friends about Cabana’s podcast
  • I look up some of his matches on Youtube
  • I write about this experience on my blog

By taking all of 3 seconds to click the little star, Cabana has created an emotional response that resulted in me paying more attention to his performances and his podcasts (something he’s been doing for years, but I didn’t know anything about until late last year). Plus, by doing so it lifted my interest in wrestling and willingness to buy wrestling merch even higher. The Colt shirt was the first wrestling shirt I ever purchased (despite watching the product regularily from 1983 to present) but it won’t be the last (I’ve got my eye on the sweet new Samoa Joe shirt that I’ll likely buy).

The point of this isn’t to say that every company should respond or interact with every tweet and mention. They should be looking at social media from a communication standpoint though instead of just using it as a marketing megaphone. Think about how much it costs to find your superfans and evangelists. Now think about the fact that a simple reply, retweet or favorite of a tweet or an Instagram post can turn a casual fan into a passionate and devoted brand loyalist.

Now take it a step further. The guy with 136 followers isn’t likely to generate massive numbers for bringing new fans to Seth Rollins. Even so, the fact that Seth Rollins retweeted it led to the post getting an additional 28 retweets and 101 favorites. Not only did he create a powerful connection with a fan (who will likely buy more merch in the future), he also showed the world that he appreciates the fan and appreciates the purchase. Do this consistently and your fan base grows. Grow your fan base and you’ll get more exposure, develop more brand evangelists and most importantly sell more merch.

The most powerful brands in the world became that way because they understood how to develop deep connections and emotional responses with their customers. Social media didn’t invent the idea of developing emotional connections with your customers. They just made it way easier to do so.

Posted in Social Media, Wrestling.

Building Content The Right Way

“Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.”

-HG Wells, 1945

We all know that well written, original content is extremely useful from an SEO perspective. It is 100% worth doing and is vital to any holistic SEO strategy. That said, if you’re writing your content with the search engines in mind as your primary target, you’re doing it wrong.

2015 is quickly turning into the year that Google finally forces websites to be customer focused. We all know that Google released their “mobile update” in April and the reason for this was to force websites to focus on design for the end user. If you have a mobile friendly site, you get a boost in Google’s mobile rankings. If you don’t, you won’t get the boost.

This really started a few years ago when Google announced that they would stop providing keyword data for organic. In 2011, Google started withholding keyword data. In 2015, pretty much everyone is seeing 90%+ of their organic keyword traffic being reported as “not provided”. This isn’t news of course, but Google’s reasons for doing this are becoming much more clear.

For years, Google has asked SEOs to stop focusing so much on keywords and focus more on the user experience. SEOs continued to focus on brute force style SEO, so Google basically said “you children can’t be responsible with your data, so we’re not giving it to you anymore”. That was the first true shot across the bow when it came to Google’s war on keyword based SEO. Since 2011, they’ve done the following:

2011
Pushed Panda Live, punishing sites with “thin content”
Removed virtually all organic keyword data via keyword encryption
Rolled out the “Freshness” factor update
Released an update that penalized sites who were showing too many ads “above the fold” (or rewarded those who don’t, depending on how you look at it)
Started adding authorship to articles in the form of pictures and bylines

2012
Rolled out the “Venice” update to improve localized results
Rolled out Penguin to further penalize people for keyword stuffing, article spinning and lots of other no no’s
Rolled out the Knowledge Graph, showing more emphasis on semantic search and giving searchers the information they’re looking for easier and faster
Rolled out the “Pirate” update, to better identify copyright violations
Rolled out the EMD update, devaluing exact match domains

2013
Replaced the core algorithm with Hummingbird, while keeping several of the key updates mentioned previously (Penguin, Panda, etc)
Started the removal of authorship due to widespread abuse of the markup

2014
Rolled out Pigeon to improve geolocated search results
Completed the removal of authorship markups

2015
Rolled out the Mobile Friendly update

If you look at these updates, they all have something in common. The pattern is clear and obvious for all to see. Google is telling SEOs to focus on user experience instead of ranking or expect to see your coverage and visibility slide. They’re also telling SEOs that Google wants you to do as they say, not as they do (as their knowledge graph and answer boxes are nothing but unoriginal, scraped content), but that’s a rant for another day.

There are always going to be sites that play in the grey or the black in order to get ranked. That should not be your focus, as it is 100% beyond your control (unless you enjoy ratting out your competition, and even then there’s no guarantee that anything will happen). Instead, focus on what you can control – content quality, site speed and ease of use.

Good guys don’t always win, but at least they can sleep a little easier knowing that they won’t wake up one day to find their site completely deindexed with a message sitting in your inbox that reads something like this:

Dear site owner or webmaster,

We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes. We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results. If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request. If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.

Sincerely,
Google Search Quality Team

Posted in SEO Crap.