The Warped Brilliance Of Ultimate Fighting And Twitter
The Warped Brilliance Of Ultimate Fighting And Twitter
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It’s refreshing to see more and more people echoing the recommendations that first surfaced a year or so ago. It seems we’re finally starting to understand that more followers isn’t necessarily better, that quality often does outrank quantity and social media success isn’t always best determined by how many fans or followers you have.

Of course, there are still some businesses that are anchored to that theory. And for them, mostly, we feel sorry.

Even though I generally believe collecting followers and fans to be a misdirected strategy for social media success, you should know me well enough by now to know that I also don’t believe there rules for social media. There are instances where collecting fans and followers could be productive and good for a company. Certainly, if an increase correlates to better conversion rates, etc., there’s an argument, even if I would investigate to see if there weren’t more strong reasoning ties to some other factor.

But sometimes, an organization comes along and just does something insanely simple that makes sense.

Ultimate Fighting Championship
Ultimate Fighting Championship (Photo credit: ATempletonPhoto.com)

Enter the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Yes, UFC.

UFC president Dana White announced in May of last year the organization would provide almost a quarter of a million dollars in bonus money throughout the year to its fighters who grow their Twitter followings and provide good content through creative Tweets. In February of this year, UFC rewarded its latest round of quarterly bonuses.

So, while conservative, traditional and well-established sports like basketball (NBA) and football (NFL) are banning players from Tweeting 90-minutes before games, sanctioning fines when they complain about officiating and the like, a young, up-start player on the scene is embracing social media to cultivate more exposure and fan engagement.

Frankly, it’s brilliant. UFC needs more fans to watch, buy tickets and care about its fledgling sport. It knows that Twitter offers fans a more up-close level of interaction with the stars of the sport, so it tells the stars of the sport to collect more fans. They reward fighters with the most followers, largest percentage of growth in followers and those with the most creative Tweets. (So there’s rewards for quality, too!)

UFC has proven to be yet another example of a social media effort that doesn’t “follow the rules” or at least the current popular best practices of quality over quantity followers, yet proves to deliver results. More people are finding out and engaging around the sport because of this incentive program. (I’ll see if we can get some more quantifiable success metrics to report soon.)

So what do you think? Agree that it’s smart to push for more exposure in such an under-appreciated sport/business? Know of other examples where more is better? The comments are yours.

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Note: Big hat-tip to Josh Johnson for not only pitching me this story (though it doesn’t benefit him really), but following up like a madman because it was a story worth telling and I didn’t pay enough attention the first time. Kudos, brotha.

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About the Author

Jason Falls
Jason Falls is the founder of Social Media Explorer and one of the most notable and outspoken voices in the social media marketing industry. He is a noted marketing keynote speaker, author of two books and unapologetic bourbon aficionado. He can also be found at JasonFalls.com.
  • What excites me about social media/network for businesses is that the contacts, conversations, sharing, stories and relationship building can mean conversions to active partnerships, sales, and business growth; as well as a way to establish community and credibility.

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  • I’ve been willing to write a post about the UFC and their social media strategies for a while just because I really like what they’re doing. In addition to encouraging fighters to join Twitter, they also stream some of the fights on Facebook (and that’s pretty cool too!). 

    There’s a constant buzz around the UFC, their community engages with the company, the fighters and other fans on a daily basis through Facebook, forums such as Sherdog, news sites such as BloodyElbow and even on Reddit/r/mma. It’s such a great moment to be an MMA fan!

  • Just to provide a little balance here, it should be noted that the UFC has cut fighters for tweets they have done. The latest was just this month, Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.

    • Great point! Thanks for the additional context.