Photo via Los Angeles Times
Between Twitter and Facebook, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has nearly six million followers, second only to the NBA in all of professional sports. In fact, UFC President Dana White alone has close to 1.5 million.
Not bad for a sport that still isn't considered "mainstream."
The UFC has continued to increase its social awareness by live streaming preliminary card fights from select events, like this past weekend's Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 Finale on Spike TV.
It also offered financial incentives at last month's fighter summit to anyone on the Zuffa roster able to significantly increase their social media presence.
As White explains to ESPN.com, it's all about building your brand.
"When we go live, the fans are always saying on the Internet, 'Oh he's such an idiot. He's got the best seat in the house, and he's always on his phone or looking at the TV.' The reason for that is I'm watching the TV screen because I'm making sure that everything looks good on TV. I'm on my phone because I'm reading Twitter. Before [social media], if I was going to make an appearance somewhere, I would have to buy radio, online, newspaper, whatever, and you still wouldn't know if you were reaching the people that really care. But 1.4 million people on Twitter opt in to follow me. They go out of their way to say, 'I want to follow this guy. I want to know what's happening.' That's huge. It's not only good for all of us, but when the fighters retire, they have this built-in fan base. When they move on to that next chapter in their life and they continue to do other things, they're still connected with all these fans. 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. Not only has social media been amazing for us the last couple of years, I think it's going to be monumental in the next five. We're working on big things right now for the next five years, and most of them revolve around social media."
White frequently holds ticket giveaways in surprise appearances in the days leading up to major events. He'll drop the location of his next appearance via (you guessed it) Twitter. That's in addition to his popular video blog series and Facebook fights.
Forget about sports -- is there a company president that has been as instrumental as White in developing brand loyalty and customer interaction?
Marketsmith Inc., one of the nation's most sought-after firms in developing social media and online branding strategies, tells MMAmania.com it's not unusual for "companies to spend millions of dollars in an effort to retain an audience only half as large as the UFC has been able to capture."
The Pinkberry is mightier than the sword!