posted on Saturday, April 21, 2012 at 3:36 PM
My digital-media-in-sports crush over the past year and change has been the UFC, which has been aggressive in the space throughout its exponential growth. With UFC 145 -- and one of the most hyped fights in recent memory in Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans -- taking place tonight, Mashable looked at their unique approach.
The UFC and president Dana White have been really proactive in self-marketing through digital channels. White was an early believer in Twitter, and used ticket giveaways to demonstrate his belief. That faith extended to the contracted fighters with the institution of special bonuses for fighters who excelled on the application (both in quantity and quality).
That's on top of White's fight-week video blogs for each major event and the impressive platform they've built to stream content from their Ultimate Fighter reality show.
The great thing they've got going is getting their fighters to buy in. One of the most compelling aspects of the growing MMA world (in my opinion) is how each fighter is more or less required to market themselves. Social media has been a place where they've made a lot of growth, and the UFC is cultivating that growth. It's a tricky proposition in some respects because the fighters are independent contractors, and the organization could spend a lot of time promoting somebody who might not always be in their fold. It's not that risky for the UFC, though, as the current climate of MMA means that a fighter doesn't leave the UFC unless the UFC asks them to go.
The model of building the organization's brand while simultaneously promoting your athletes has been great for the UFC. With proper tweaks, it's a great strategy for teams to adopt.