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How Social Media Built a Champion

Social Media Marketing is changing the world. It is a cheap form of inbound marketing that can make you stand out from the norm. In less than one year’s time social media has turned the WWE’s Zack Ryder from a nobody into a champion. How did he do it?

Social Media Marketing with YouTube

Zack Ryder was a relatively young player in the world of professional wrestling. He was given a Jersey Shore-type gimmick and was supposed to use that to make his mark. He wasn’t really connecting with the crowd, wasn’t getting any air time on the company’s main shows, and probably would have eventually been fired during a cost cutting move. He needed to do something to differentiate himself from the crowd, and turned to social media to make his mark. He created a YouTube channel, a Facebook page, and started to post on Twitter.

On February 17, 2011 WWE wrestler Zack Ryder launched the first episode of Z! True Long Island Story. This was the first episode of a weekly program that he promoted on his YouTube channel. His show has been used a comedy piece as a means of self promotion, for instance, in episode 13 he proved that Zack Ryder can draw money. He would regularly include comedy skits with his friends in the business and his father, and would make jokes about his girlfriend/ex-girlfriend Princess Leia, and shots of Ghost Buster action figures. He took an old WWE toy belt and attached YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter icons to it and named himself the Internet Champion. Eventually, he put his money where is mouth is and spent $1,500 to create his own belt.

Zack Ryder holding the Internet Championship Belt complete with Social Media icons

Using Social Media to Make Your Audience Work for you

He actively encouraged Broskis (his fans) to hold up signs for him on TV and to tweet using the hashtags #AreYouSeriousBro and #WWWYKI (woo woo woo you know it). The fan that did the best job would be signaled out each week as the Broski of the Week. A few months ago he began a program with the United States champion Dolph Ziggler where he wanted a shot at the championship. He started an online petition which became the most signed petition in the history of the Internet. At the end of every single one of his episodes he ends with the following routine remind users to:

Like my video, leave a comment, subscribe to my channel, and go back and watch all of my other videos.
(pause while displaying the URL for his YouTube channel)

Like me on Facebook.
(pause while displaying the URL for his Facebook profile)

Follow me on Twitter.
(pause while displaying the URL for his Twitter profile)

(Some instruction to go to WWE ShopZone and buy all of his new merchandise)

And take care. (pause) Spike your hair (pats the top of his hair).

It’s a bit long, but this routine has been a very effective call to action. He has been getting over with the crowd, and has now become a staple on the WWE’s main program. Back in July Sports Illustrated listed him as the only professional wrestler in the top 100 athletes using Twitter, and was recently a finalist in the Mashable 2011 Awards for Must Follow Athlete on Social Media.

This past Sunday at the WWE TLC pay per view Zack Ryder finally got his shot at Dolph Ziggler’s United States championship. He won the match and his long social media campaign has born fruit. He has gone from a nobody to a champion, and he did it all with social media.

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About

Brian is the Director of Development and Social Media for Brand Builder Websites where he oversees the development, strategy, and goals for our software development. He is also a huge fan of Android.
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