The UFC: Black Belts in Social Media Marketing

According to Ultimate Fighting Championship President, Dana White “Twitter is the greatest Marketing tool in the history of the world”.

Dana White’s social media presence is most prominent on Twitter where the outspoken head honcho at the UFC regularly posts the latest fight announcements, UFC events, and fan contests to his nearly 2 million followers. White is notorious for his fan interaction on Twitter, and it’s common to see him engaged in heated Twitter beefs with MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fans. Often responding to negative messages from folks with his own not so sweet tweets (see screen shot). White does what most company executives would avoid. However, it is in part his brashness and willingness to interact with fans that makes Dana White so popular among fans – and the UFC such a force in social media.


Tune into any UFC event and you’ll notice that when fighters are introduced their Twitter handle is prominently displayed on screen alongside their name.  Not only does the UFC promote several Twitter accounts for various marketing efforts, but the organization also encourages all of its fighters to have an active Twitter account. The current UFC roster contains over 300 fighters, so the idea is brilliant in that fans can interact with fighters after seeing them perform, and the UFC can expand its social media marketing efforts even wider through its employees (something all companies should consider doing).

While it’s obvious how much Dana White loves Twitter, the marketing gurus social media presence doesn’t stop there. Perhaps even more prominent is the UFC’s Facebook page. With over 8 million “Likes” the page is one of the most popular business pages on Facebook, and a large part of that success is due to what the UFC offers to fans of the page.

The UFC currently live streams free preliminary fights for fans of the page. If you’re not familiar with the UFC, “prelim fights” are not aired live on their Pay-Per-View, but as all MMA fans know these fights are often exciting with lesser known fighters giving it their all in hopes of breaking to thru to the main card.  The innovative idea constantly pulls in new fans and draws existing fans back to the page, giving the UFC yet another opportunity to promote their events online and drawn in additional PPV buys.

In addition to the UFC’s YouTube channel that promotes upcoming matches, Dana White also regularly posts a popular video blog that gives viewers a fascinating behind the scenes look at the UFC. The blog follows White in the days leading up to an event at press conferences, weigh-ins, cage side, and even backstage.  This allows fans to get an up close look at what happens before and after the fights.

Through all these efforts, it’s clear that the UFC understands the power of social media and engaging fans online. And just as UFC fighters use a mix of martial arts disciplines to succeed in the cage so does the organization mix social media marketing efforts to propel business.

The UFC’s immense social media success speaks to its overall non-stop barrage of marketing which has helped further expand the organization worldwide with events held in Brazil, Japan, Australia and Sweden this year alone. In addition to recent plans to broadcast UFC programming in India and the rest of the sub-continent, the organization recently landed a groundbreaking 7-year deal with FOX to further position MMA as the fastest growing sport in the world.

As an MMA fanatic and an online marketing geek I found the UFC to be a great example of effective social media marketing that not only got my attention, but one I think other companies could learn a few techniques from.


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