NASON on WWE & Twitter: attempting to do right while accomplishing a lot of wrong

WWE and TwitterAs WWE has managed to drive me away for a while after the whole HHH mass walkout mess from last month, I've been interested in hearing Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez on recent Wrestling Observer shows describe in detail how WWE was doing everything they could to get over how much they love Twitter, short of actually replacing matches with their live feed completely.

My interest became even more piqued when the two discussed their thoughts about the use of Twitter in today's sports entertainment culture (including the UFC), joking that certain wrestlers and fighters go through an approval process to be on Twitter. After all that discussion, I was flipping through channels last Monday, saw a giant gaudy Twitter logo on RAW and felt compelled to put thoughts to laptop.

While Dave and Bryan may not fully understand and embrace Twitter, I do because it's part of my daily job. While my MMA writing and audio appearances are my part-time gig, my 9-to-5 role is in the Internet infrastructure space as an inbound marketer. I live on social media and really fell in love with Twitter because it's essentially scanning email subject lines from around the world on a variety of subjects. It's the world's largest convention center with rooms for everyone.

As someone that has taught Twitter best practices to college athletics programs and is a fan of the UFC's social media consultants of choice in Digital Royalty, here's some quick-hit perspective on what the WWE is doing right and what they're doing wrong.

The positive thing that really stands out is that they're involved in the conversation. Any major brand worth its salt is on Twitter and WWE's appeal is to a younger audience, so having an active presence makes sense. They want people to follow and get value. In my world, that's outstanding.

Having said that, I hope they look at the feedback they receive and use it to some end. This may seem like a 'duh' statement, but there's a lot you can get out of listening to your fans. I fear that based on what we get week in and week out, that information isn't making its way to the right place. Perhaps we're just that damn "Internet" that is referred to which, considering how much they love Twitter, doesn't make any sense as an insult whatsoever.

Three Areas For Improvement

Stop driving Twitter down people's throats

The constant references, on-screen logos and repeated references are obnoxious. The TV entities that do it right put up subtle Twitter hashtags (aka words with # in front of them) and let people jump into the conversation themselves. My suggestion: put the symbolic '@' to the left of the WWE logo and replace the pointless 'Live' with a subtle #WWE/#RAW underneath it.

At that point, they need to leave talking about Twitter alone other than two reminders per show to follow WWE on Twitter. That's it. Literally, they need to say the words, "You can follow WWE on Twitter (@WWE) and get the latest news, updates and information on your favorite superstars and divas!" I feel I have to write that out as they seemingly can't be trusted to do anything else.

Stop talking about 'trending'

I have to agree with Dave and Bryan as the repeated references to trending on Twitter drove me crazy over the past few months as it completely shows their ignorance for what it takes to trend. In the early days, trending on Twitter really meant something because there were a lot less users than there are now. But with 460,000 new signups a day and 200 million worldwide accounts, it's diluted.

Essentially, trends are based on algorithms. if Twitter sees a significant portion of its audience talking about something, it will trend. Because RAW happens once a week and has a significant online-engaged audience, trending is expected. When I first started writing this, "Chris Herren" is trending because there's a well-received documentary on ESPN airing. For what it's worth, "BieberRapsBetterThan", "Lord Knows" and "KEEP HOLDING ON AVRIL" are also trending today.

It's not a big deal to trend and I wish WWE would stop acting like it is.

Tell your talent to engage with someone other than themselves

As someone that lives in the space, I follow a lot of wrestlers and talent in all organizations and I'm consistently baffled at how bad they are at engaging with the public. It's actually quite frustrating because they're missing a huge opportunity to engage and grow their fan bases.

John Cena is really good (no, seriously!) with Daniel Bryan and Zack Ryder also standing out. CM Punk is also good…to an extent. He's baffling in that he doesn't engage with fans other than when he's insulting or chiding them. He also doesn't list WWE anywhere on his Twitter page, which is odd. At times, he comes off a bit 'too cool for school' and is in one of those gray areas of regulation vs. encouragement to tweet. He's a major star in the world's largest wrestling organization, but seems embarrassed to admit it.

Nearly all the young talent and developmental wrestlers are awful. They stick to talking within their own circles and don't engage with fans as nearly as much as they could. The 'too cool for school' deal applies here too. You're not too good to talk to your fans. Ever. These are the same people that will pay $10 to take a digital picture with you in a high school gym 10 years from now. Be kind to them now and they'll be with you for years, even when you get cut.

UFC President Dana White mentioned that a reason why he wants his fighters to build up fanbases now is that when their fighting days are done, they take those people with them. It's a form of personal brand marketing and as we know, wrestlers need as many revenue opportunities as they can get post-WWE.

Even though I'm an MMA guy at heart, there's a lot of opportunity for fighters at all levels to improve their Twitter presence so please don't think I'm picking on an easy target. Others have noticed WWE's push for Twitter and have done their own evaluations (my bud Peter Stringer who heads up social media interaction with the NBA's Boston Celtics for one) and earlier this year, Mashable said they 'conquered' social media.

So as you watch RAW tonight and future nights, think about the above and demand better. Until then, enjoy WWE and all of its Twitter-promoting glory. Just think if they put that much attention into getting new talent over.

Josh Nason is a bi-weekly guest on Figure Four Daily with Bryan Alvarez and compiles the weekly MMA staff picks. He writes for FIGHT! Magazine, hosts the weekly WGAM MMA Show on ESPN Radio NH and contributes to Bloody Elbow. He also was a former pro wrestling ring announcer in Portland, Maine.

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