The use of social media has brought benefits to businesses and organizations of all shapes, sizes, and types, in all manner of different industries. One key benefactor has been the sports industry, where organizations and promotions can offer entertaining or educational content related to their given sport.The world of mixed martial arts is no exception, with many promotions having intelligently used social media in several ways to maximize the number of viewers and overall fan engagement.
The first and most obvious use is in the creation of poster boys and girls. These are fighters that are deemed the wonder-athletes of their time, the stars of their division. They’re often made into huge celebrities and become household names, primarily through the use of social media. Fighters such as Conor Mcgregor, Jon Jones, and Ronda Rousey, for example.
While social media is not necessarily required for the creation of poster fighters, it’s definitely a significant help. All forms of social media can be used to enhance the buzz and excitement around an individual fighter, with the sharing of content that further promotes a fighter’s reputation and image. Some good examples of such content are fight videos from a fighter’s early days, pictures of the fighter doing good (or bad) deeds in the community, or back-story videos that give insight into the fighter’s life. All such content increases the fan following of individual fighters, and therefore maximizesthe number of paying viewers on or after fight day. Research done by Betting sites shows how there are 2 million users on sites like Facebook every hour, ready absorb content and thus marketing.
Similarly, social media can be used for more generic back-story type content. Video logs and behind-the-scenes content are great ways to increase viewer buy-in and enhance long-term customer enjoyment. The UFC Embedded series is a perfect example of this, offering short 10-15 minute videos onthe day-to-day lives of the fighters, every day for the six or seven days leading up to fight week. Fans tune-in to get a glimpse of how their favourite fighters are preparing for theirupcoming bouts.
Another brilliant and unexpected benefit that social media has brought to MMA is the possibility for spontaneous social media feuds. Such feuds can arise between any mix of fighters, fans, or media personnel. Some feuds arise naturally, without any external instigation from the outside world.
Natural feuds between fighters often offer the most entertaining build-ups and fight events in the whole of combat sports, as each fighter partakes in the feud out of sheer disdain for the other. Some of the greatest include Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen, Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier, and TJ Dillashawvs Cody Garbrandt. It’s no coincidence that these fights often have the highest viewer ratings for both build-up content and the fights themselves. Such feuds would not be possible without social media, or at least would be vastly reduced in terms of frequency and intensity.
Another way that MMA has benefitted from social media is in the ability to offer early preliminary bouts, exclusive to social media platforms. Such early prelims offer those without main event access the opportunity to watch the sport and get a feel for it, thus extending the promotion’s reach to an increased number of potential viewers. Many social media users may be tentatively interested in MMA, especially with its recent growth in popularity, but aren’t quite willing to pay the fees required to watch main events. In such cases, the early prelims offer free tasters into the world of mixed martial arts.