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How It Took Off
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Getting His Fans Involved
At this point, Ryder saw that he had a true connection with his fans and started to show appreciation back by including photos of all of the signs fans would bring into his YouTube show. He included an interactive portion of the show where fans would audition for a segment called “Broski of The Week”. “It was just like this crazy snowball effect. Everything was happening so fast and the fans were such a huge part of it, so of course I had to include them in what I was doing.”
“I didn’t have a cool T-shirt of my own, they made like a generic $15 one of me just standing there.” But Ryder was determined. He tweeted and gave his fans incentive to get the shirt and if they tweeted a photo of themselves wearing it, Ryder personally sent each one an autograph.
After a few months, Ryder found himself with more spots on WWE shows across the country, using his Flipcam to record every entrance out to the ring and incorporating it into that week’s episode of “Z! True Long Island Story”. He fashioned an “Internet Championship” belt out of his little brother’s toy replica WWE belt at home and started showing it off on his show. After a while, Ryder sprang for the real thing. “I got it made, paid $1600 plus shipping and handling and got a real belt. It looks, weighs, and feels like a real title. I showed it to the WWE and they were like, ‘There’s no way you’re coming out with that on TV’.”
Although the famed title never made an appearance on one of WWE’s many programs, Ryder’s YouTube show and social media efforts had resonated so strongly with their audience that WWE did end up making one of Ryder’s dreams come true: He got his own cool T-shirt. And what’s on it? The Statue of Liberty holding up the Internet Championship belt. In fact, Mattel just released a new Zack Ryder action figure that comes packaged with a mini Internet Title of its own. But what interested us the most about Ryder’s merchandise was his use of QR codes.
“They gave me a bunch of ideas for a new shirt and one of the ideas was just a QR code on the front. I said, “There’s no way we can do that.” So he designed his own merchandise that incorporated everything that got him to where he is today: Long Island, the Internet Championship, and a QR code so you can find Zack online. Now, the code is on everything Ryder related – from action figures to the trunks he wears to the ring.
Ryder’s Social Impact on the WWE
Since the social media “Ryder Revolution,” Zack has enjoyed his time in the spotlight and has been noted by many for bringing more social media strategies to the WWE’s attention. And they certainly listened. In the past year, they’ve partnered with social video site, Tout, produced their own mobile app, signed a streaming deal with Hulu, and saw a huge success thanks to the social media promotion of their flagship event, Wrestlemania.
Ryder attributes an enthusiastic audience to the huge success WWE has seen across all social media channels, especially Twitter. “You’re able to communicate with someone you regularly watch on TV, and it’s just this crazy environment that WWE has really been able to capitalize on.”
With no signs of stopping, it seems that the “Ryder Revolution” could just be getting started.
Be sure to watch Zack on the next WWE Pay-Per-View event on October 28.