UFC Brings Social Media into the Octagon

20 August

UFC Brings Social Media into the Octagon

If there is one businessman who not only understands the importance of social media, but is able to leverage it, it is Dana White. White, the current president of the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) uses Twitter and Facebook to promote his organization but, more importantly, to interact with fans. Under his watch, the UFC has become the second strongest sports presence in social media (beat out by the NBA). What is White doing right – and what can you learn?

UFC has moved comfortably into the mainstream, and in addition to TV spots, fight fans can catch bouts on pay-per-view. To take advantage of the audience, and to build an even larger one, UFC decided to broadcast live events on Facebook. The first pro sports league to do so, this broadens the reach of an already international brand to 650 million users. Some more stats:

The UFC has 5.8 million combined Twitter and Facebook fans, not counting individual fighters’ accounts, Spanish-language accounts, or White’s 1.46 million followers. Part of this stems from their traditional fan base, but part is also due to the reach they have achieved via social media. They have taken fighting out of the Octagon and put it into mainstream America. “Everything is for tomorrow. Our Facebook page has grown unbelievably since we started putting up fights on it. And what happens is you end up turning more fans onto it, and you continue to grow your fan base and build your brand. You educate people about the sport and get more people talking about it, which is vital.”

White recently spent nearly a quarter million dollars on a social media incentive program for fighters to develop their skills in the social media world. White also points out that it provides retiring fighters with a strong presence and continued fan base that is important as they pursue other careers. Other initiatives White has employed:

• Weekly video blogs on YouTube.
• Letting Facebook fans “like” the page and then watching live fights.
• Training UFC fighters how to use Twitter effectively and creatively.
• Responding in real-time to consumer complaints. White says, “Now, as these things are happening, I have people running around fixing all the problems that are happening that I’m reading on Twitter.”

So, say you have a business that tens of millions of people do not tune in to watch. Does any of this apply to you? You can’t really stream “Live from My CPA Office” on YouTube and expect hits. But you can do other things that White does:

• Offer your audience information (or entertainment) that is relevant to them. White ups the ante by providing live fights and video recaps. This may not be applicable directly to your business, but think about how you can enhance content, whether it is by adding updated news features or by connecting with a Twitter feed.
• Set up the profiles – and use them! White regularly interacts with fans via Twitter. He keeps them updated on UFC news and events.
• Respond to your audience. Good or bad, respond to people. Social media is about interaction. Dana White may be fielding questions about who is going to coach the next Ultimate Fighter. You may be fielding questions about why your pizza is the best or if you use organic products in your business. Whatever it is, respond and contribute to the dialogue.

TAGS: Social Media, Digital Marketing, General