Understanding Culture, in a Social Context

At Affinio, the audience intelligence platform, we’re in the business of understanding social communities, the people within them, and their distinct community culture. For brands and marketers, having an intimate understanding of a social community is critical in remaining culturally relevant with ideal audiences.

The Culture of WWE Fans

We decided to look deeper into a community that we have often run into but have seldom explored… the mysterious world of the WWE. Yes, World Wrestling Entertainment and everything that comes with it. It seems like these fans are EVERYWHERE on the Internet and are commenting, liking, sharing, and interacting about the match-ups, upsets, and victories every week. This unique and flourishing community even refers to themselves as the #WWEUniverse.

If you’re not familiar with the WWE, don’t panic! Here’s a quick recap:

  • The WWE is a billion-dollar industry that holds over 300 events every year and is broadcasted to 36 million viewers.
  • In 2014, the WWE launched its own network where viewers subscribe for Pay-Per-View live programming and on-demand libraries. It reached over one million subscribers in under a year, making it the fastest-growing digital subscription service.
  • The WWE is classified as “sports entertainment”, meaning there are no legitimate contests. Instead, all wrestling matches are driven by faux storylines and choreography… think of it as a soap opera with body slams.

What the Analysis Shows Us:

For our analysis using Affinio, we decided to run a network graph analysis on the@WWE Instagram handle, which has over 7.1 million followers. From this, we were able to identify 12 distinct sub-communities, or groups within this social audience.

Some of the groups included personas we labelled as ‘WWE Divas Fans’, ‘USA Pop Culture’, ‘Soccer Fans’, ‘WWE Superstar Fans’, and ‘Bollywood’. These personas were labelled based on insights shared amongst the group including how they self-describe, their top interests, and influences. For example, the “WWE Divas Fans” group is a community of females that are strongly influenced by the female stars of the WWE, also known as “Divas”. They self-describe with words such as girl, fan, WWE, and Bella (the last name of wrestling stars Nikki and Brie Bella); are interested in fashion and cosmetics; and are influenced by non-wrestling celebrities including Selena Gomez, Kim Kardashian-West, and Nicki Minaj.

But who are all of these communities really? As can be seen in the below slide share, we’ve uncovered the self-describing keywords, top hashtags used, influencers, and emojis used for the selected personas – all pulled from the Affinio platform.

Gathering More Insights

In looking at the slideshare alone, we can already see there are many different sub-communities within the WWE fanbase. While all of these groups have a common interest in the WWE, how marketers communicate with each group needs to be adjusted.

Exploring even further, I decided to take a look at the @WWE Twitter audience and see which of these groups would also appear in the Twitter fanbase. Two of the audiences appeared, ‘WWE Superstar Fans’ and ‘WWE Divas Fans’. While these two audiences were consistent, this also tells us that the wrestling fanbase on Instagram and Twitter differ.

Here are some cool insights pulled on the Twitter ‘WWE Superstar Fans’ and ‘WWE Divas Fans’ communities:

WWE Divas Fan

  • The ‘WWE Divas Fan’ community’s top domains include sites such as thedailybeast.com, an opinion website focusing on politics and pop culture; diva-dirt.com, a website dedicated to female wrestling; and vevo.com, a music video and entertainment platform. For brands, these insights can be used to inform ad placement, partnerships, and creative.
  • Members of this community are primarily located in the Eastern United States and the UK. These insights can be used to inform event locations and sponsorship opportunities.
  • The ‘WWE Divas Fans’ top liked content includes highly visual posts from Diva stars such as Nikki and Brie Bella. For brands, understanding whether their audience prefer video over imagery, long content or short etc., and what influencers to leverage is essential in crafting a winning content strategy.

WWE Superstar Fans

  • The ‘WWE Superstar Fans’ community’s top domains include sites such as placetobenation.com, a site dedicated to sports, wrestling, and pop culture; morethanmania.com, an event site for an independent wrestling competition; and corporate.wwe.com. Again, these insights can be used to inform advertising opportunities, partnerships and creative.
  • Members of this community are primarily located in the Eastern United States and the UK.
  • The ‘WWE Superstar Fans’ top liked content includes mainly visual posts and short videos.

Why Understanding the Culture of a Community is Critical

With tools like Affinio, it is now possible to inject yourself into the very center of a community’s culture and find out what makes them tick. Brands today are constantly wrestling for attention in an oversaturated media environment. To thrive and and remain culturally relevant with ideal audiences, brands and marketers must align their strategies, online and offline, with audience-driven data. It is this combination that makes a true champion.

To learn more about aligning audience data to your marketing strategies, request a demo.

Originally posted on the Affinio blog, “Affinio Culture Series: Exploring the WWE Universe and What Marketers Can Learn“.