While All Elite Wrestling is proving to be a surefire alternative in the wrestling world, with hot feuds, consistently better than intended television ratings, and impressive ticket sales in every market they run, they really fall short on showcasing their brand through their social media. 330 million users are active on that social media platform alone every month. Every business’ potential online is endless.
All Elite Wrestling, however, constantly showcase that having a solid and consistent social media strategy is not a priority.
While they were tearing up the indies and New Japan Pro Wrestling, The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega used YouTube to grow their brand through web series Being The Elite. Originally a travel vlog with skits, the series continued to grow and can be argued as being a big catalyst for the BULLET CLUB’s increase in popularity in North America. As new cast members joined Being The Elite, their stars also rose to a point where the collective of wrestlers launched their own clothing line at Hot Topic and quickly became the highest-selling products in those stores, all thanks to grassroots social media marketing.
Cody Rhodes, arguably the most over act in AEW, used social media to his advantage when he parted ways with the WWE in 2016. Always recognized as being severely underrated while working in Vince McMahon’s empire, Cody’s independent scene run was kicked off with a singular tweet of a list of people he wanted to face, including matches with The Young Bucks, Katsuyori Shibata, and a match at Pro Wrestling Guerrilla’s Battle of Los Angeles tournament. The tweet went viral, with 4.1K Retweets and 10.1K likes, effectively creating a runaway train of momentum for Cody’s post-WWE career.
After 8/19 pic.twitter.com/txeAKw9SSN
— Cody (@CodyRhodes) May 28, 2016
For a company that has four Executive Vice Presidents who all used social media to advance their careers to get to the point of earning that title, All Elite Wrestling is having a hard time translating the success on TV and in live event sales to their digital strategy. From constant blunders like forgetting to schedule the AEW Dark program on YouTube, to typos featuring the talent’s names, and everything in between, digital has been a swing and a miss for the upstart promotion.
The first missteps taken by the digital team came back in October, when hyping a big announcement. The AEW Twitter page asked fans to guess what the announcement was going to be. People got their hopes up, with everybody thinking it would be some sort of big deal. In reality, the announcement was just a show location announcement. Followers were so disappointed that AEW President and CEO Tony Khan stepped in on Twitter to condemn the poorly executed tweet.
Jeff, let’s do our best not to toy with people’s emotions like this. We got people who aren’t near the Florida market all excited, now we have to come up with another huge announcement, one that affects all of our fans everywhere, to make it up to them. So that’s what we’ll do.
— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) October 28, 2019
The social media team did not learn their lesson and continued to use the “big announcement” strategy for location announcements. The fans kept being unhappy that big things were promised but never delivered. It all reached a boiling point on Christmas Day after Cody teased an announcement for the holiday, which ended up being another show location reveal.
Twitter is not the only social platform that AEW has trouble with.
YouTube, the leading video platform service in the world, should be a homerun for free wrestling content. The website has worked extremely well for the WWE, IMPACT Wrestling, WhatCulture Pro Wrestling, and virtually every other wrestling company that has used it. AEW has leaned in too far with this idea by splitting their content via three different channels: All Elite Wrestling, Being The Elite, and Nightmare Family.
Dispersing the content over three channels does not create a central hub for content. The AEW channel has 903K subscribers, BTE has 415K, and Nightmare Family has 155K. Naturally, those looking for AEW content on YouTube would look towards the official YouTube page for all content. The digital team, however, kept the “Road To” shows to the Nightmare Family page. While they have corrected this and brought the show to the main channel, and effectively boosting the view count from 96K (for Road to The Sears Center) to 133K (Road to Bahamas), Being The Elite is still uploaded only to that channel, forcing fans to seek out another page for content that impacts television storylines.
In terms of content, free wrestling content will always do fantastic numbers on the platform. Fans want free stuff. WWE capitalizes on this by offering old PPV matches on the platform, IMPACT has released entire PPVs, but AEW seems only focused on putting Dark on the web for now… well when they feel like it, that is. Officially scheduled for 7 PM ET every Tuesday, the digital team sometimes forgets to upload the show on time or even at all. When a broadcast isn’t scheduled to start on time, or they forget to set it up as a YouTube Premiere, it signals that the show is not important, which is then reflected by the viewership. Which started strong at 859K views in a week to now only garnering 244K, as per VOW’s own Garrett Kidney.
AEW Dark views after a week:
— Garrett Kidney (@garrettkidney) January 29, 2020
Speaking of views on YouTube, AEW shoots itself in the foot with their strange naming conventions. The All Elite Wrestling YouTube puts everything in caps and leaves out important SEO details on every video. Those browsing YouTube are more likely to forgo watching a video that has a title in all caps, it is not enticing. The team also has a penchant for using hashtags in their titles, especially for clips from the DYNAMITE show, which does nothing for people finding the content. The names of the wrestlers need to be upfront and center in a manner that works.
Let’s compare the view count of two clips of Jon Moxley calling out Chris Jericho. AEW’s official page has the video titled “JON MOXLEY HOLDS NOTHING BACK | AEW DYNAMITE 1/29/20, CLEVELAND”. With 903K subscribers to the channel, this video only has 103K views.
Whereas Chris Jericho’s YouTube account, which has no official affiliation with the company, uploaded a clip of the segment titled “Jon Moxley Describes What Type Of Man Chris Jericho Is On AEW Dynamite”. Jericho’s page only has 117K subscribers, but the video has 250K views as of the time of writing.
Editor’s Note: The video has been set to private since the publication of this article.
Jericho’s page should theoretically be doing less numbers than AEW’s official page, but viewers have an easier time finding the clip on his page than anywhere else. AEW being unable to capitalize on important events in a shareable way is not just a YouTube blunder. They did it on Twitter when Kenny Omega dressed up as Undertale’s Sans – which was posted immediately on the website by a fan page and had over 1 million views in under 24 hours. The official digital team should be the first ones to release that content in a manner that can be easily found and encourage it being shared. They hurt their numbers by not being the account that can do that.
All in all, All Elite Wrestling could have a tremendous social media presence. They are hip, they are new, and they are the alternative that the wrestling world has been patiently waiting for. It’s 2020, there’s no reason why they cannot lead the revolution online either. The more you do well online, the more people will want to follow your product.
AEW as an online brand needs to find itself. Once they figure that out and work out the kinks, they can change the world — one tweet and one video at a time.