The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) began its foray into social media marketing 18 months ago, when it hired the agency The Digital Royalty to oversee projects and give a seminar on the subject to staffers. Since then, the UFC has managed to give 182 of its fighters a Twitter and Facebook presence as they communicate with fans.
One of the most popular fan tweets/posts has been: “When is the UFC coming to my city?”
The UFC is parlaying that question into a three-month Twitter-based campaign called “Hide & Tweet,” entailing a scavenger-hunt-styled effort in nine cities. Currently part-way through, the effort includes stints in San Diego, Los Angeles, Vancouver, B.C., Montreal, Phoenix, New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Oakland, CA. All of the activities so far have involved the hash-tag #Hunt4UFC.
On July 31, Dana White – the UFC president who doubles as the celebrity face of the sport brand – tweeted to his 1.1 million followers that he was heading to a Dave & Buster’s restaurant in San Diego for a so-called tweet-up. He stated that he’d be giving away tickets to that night’s fight in San Diego for participants who could beat him in a miniature basketball game (a regular Dave & Buster’s feature). The grand prize was a ringside seat next to White. (See video below.)
“Within a few minutes of Dana’s arrival, there were a couple hundred fans there,” said Amy Martin, CEO of The Digital Royalty, a sports/entertainment-oriented boutique shop in Phoenix. “I call it ‘Twitter tag.’ It’s all about bridging the virtual and physical worlds.”
Martin also “cold-tweeted” a local television reporter to see if he would want to cover the tweet-up, and the reporter obliged. Before the exchange, she and the reporter hadn’t been followers of each other on the micro-blogging site.
“We were able to generate 15 million impressions through Facebook and Twitter in just a few hours,” Martin said. The agency CEO explained that she calculated the Facebook/Twitter presences for White and her company and figured in shares and retweets to come to that number.
Other “Hide & Tweet” examples include Aug. 4, when White on Twitter directed followers to a UFC-branded gym near Oakland, CA: “The first fan to find the prize and say ‘UFC Rocks!’ wins an autographed UFC Heavy Bag and a month gym membership.”
And recently in Las Vegas, the UFC president tweeted the location (MGM Grand Hotel) where followers could win a pair of autographed fighting gloves. “Sixty fans arrived within one minute,” Martin said.
She said the campaign so far has helped create almost 2.25 million UFC followers on Twitter and 3 million Facebook fans. What’s more, the 17-year-old organization only trails the much-older National Basketball Association – among all major sports leagues – on Facebook when it comes to fans, Martin said.
“I’ve worked with all of the leagues,” she said. “When you look at the history of the MLB, NFL, and NHL brands, it’s really interesting to see…I think it speaks to how the UFC has focused on social media.”
Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.
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