BACKGROUND: Jayar Donlan directs a 75-person team that curates some of sports entertainment’s most-followed social media accounts. Quarterbacking digital and social strategy is a major production, involving around-the-clock digital and social production and even training sessions for WWE’s Superstars, who maintain their own social accounts. WWE creates bonus content and original programming exclusively for digital and social, weaving storylines across TV, digital and social channels. It’s all designed to feed WWE fans’ insatiable appetite for pro-wrestling content and make them feel like they have a front-row seat. “We have social producers all over the world, at 500-plus events,” Donlan says. “Being authentic on social is key to our success.” Prior to joining WWE in 2013, Donlan was VP of analytics for MXM Social, a digital agency with clients including NBC, Disney and Sony.
2017 HIGHLIGHTS: WWE’s YouTube channel hit 20 million subscribers, ranking as the service’s top sports channel. The company counts more than 850 million followers across a wide portfolio of social channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat, and WWE Superstar John Cena ranks as the most popular active U.S. athlete on Facebook with more than 45 million Facebook likes. Exclusive shows were created for Facebook Watch and Snapchat Discover.
WHAT’S AHEAD: WWE is growing into augmented and virtual reality, including six VR experiences featuring highlights from major WWE events. Gaming is also a priority: YouTube gaming channel UpUp-DownDown counts more than 1.4 million subscribers. Among other emerging YouTube channels, one starring the Bella Twins, former WWE Superstars Nikki and Brie Bella, attracts a coveted female demographic. (In one real-life overlapping storyline, Nikki Bella is engaged to Cena.) WWE also will produce more episodes for its popular new Facebook Watch series, “Mixed Match Challenge.”