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Home arrow Blog arrow Editorial arrow Editorial arrow WWE vs Nerds: the incoherent war
WWE vs Nerds: the incoherent war
Dec 13, 2011 at 06:00 PM

The big question for a lot of companies these days is, “How do we use social media to make more money?” WWE is no exception. It's grappled with that question, and, as far as I'm concerned, failed to really get. Its social media successes have happened despite itself, even explicitly counter to its own priorities and strategy, and where it's made deliberate efforts to embrace or promote these channels, it's running about 50/50 good job/abject failure.

The biggest name in social media, WWE-wise, is undoubtedly Zack Ryder. Yes, I know, John Cena has way more Twitter followers (1.17 million to the Long Island Iced Z's 374,000+) and 100 times as many Likes on Facebook (9 million to 91,000). But John Cena is the face of the WWE, the modern-day Rock (1.69 million Twitter followers, 4.5 million Facebook likes), the dude you follow because he's got the highest profile, the dude you Like because you're nine and your mother controls your Facebook page.

But compare Ryder to someone like CM Punk – just ahead on 486,000+ Twitter followers, despite a massive championship push in the past year.

Compare Ryder's YouTube subscribers – 108,892 – to the WWE's own official channel – 305,013.

And then remember: Zack Ryder did this himself. He put together crappy little videos complete with unsubtle “dropping the ball” and “trying to get over” jabs at his employers. He roped in other superstars to cameo (to either brutally mock Zack or themselves) and basically created an entire underground fandom in a matter of weeks, with Daniel Bryan levels of subversive signage and chanting.

One could make the argument – and I might if I weren't such a broskette – that this was all part of some diabolical WWE Creative plan. But then I look at the trainwreck of a storyline they're running with HHH and Kevin Nash and write that one straight off.

A few other superstars (and ex-superstars) are also doing well on the social media front. Chris Jericho, the Miz, even Maryse built a solid following largely based on tweeting pictures of herself/her shoes. Punk, who I like to believe has basically been given free rein when he's on the mic, got an amazing zinger (if you're part of the Internet generation, which I assume you are if you're reading this!) on Miz about calling TMZ every time he lands at an airport.

It felt and sounded natural. It sounded like exactly the kind of thing a self-respecting reality TV star like the Miz would do. I laughed so hard I snorted.

And that, basically, was how I knew it wasn't scripted and approved by the powers that be.

Because let's look at someone undeniably under the mind-control of the McMahons: Michael “why do you even have a soundbite in the opening signature you utter hack” Cole.

Michael Cole's hatred of “nerds” (the 80s called, it wants its anti-geek insult back) first erupted when Daniel Bryan hit the scene. He's a vegan! A nerd! He doesn't even own a television! Which … only makes sense if he watches all his eclectic anime on a laptop, but okay, that happens.

Making Cole the nerd-hater made a lot of sense. He's the establishment guy, the anti-internet guy, the guy smarks online were already hating …

But he's also, now, the guy who lets you know what's trending on Twitter.

And then hassles Zack Ryder for creating his own Internet Championship.

And then mentions Twitter again.

Where, incidentally, he has over 150,000 followers and has made a whopping 86 tweets since March this year. (cf. John Cena: 2,180; Zack Ryder: 4,750)

There's a rule in social media: an un-maintained profile is worse than no profile at all. It shows you do think social media is important but don't have a clue how to use it correctly – essentially, you're trying too hard to be one of the cool kids. While hating on them constantly. But also drawing attention to them to the point of basically encouraging your viewers to stop watching and go interact on their computers/phones instead.

The genius who came up with this did not orchestrate Zack Ryder's amazing internet stardom.

I don't think things are grim, though. The fact is, it's already been demonstrated that the WWE's stars will succeed where their company fails. They'll engage the fanbase, they'll generate memes and sell out merchandise and build profile and instigate hilarious mini-feuds with each other.

And on the other hand, the marketing of made-for-hipster-ironic-Generation-Y WWE garden gnomes and the use of YouTube in their latest cryptic-promo (exceptit'snotatallcrypticbecauseit'sclearlytheUndertakerorY2J) teasers show someone behind the scenes gets it.

But none of that holds any guarantee that Michael Cole will stop being a hypocritical douchewad. Therein lies the tragedy.

Saturday, April 19
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Sunday, April 20
- WWE Raw (3.45pm, the BOX)

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- WWE SmackDown (7.05pm, the BOX)

- WWE Main Event (11.50pm, the BOX)

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