UFC Fight Night in London on Saturday was undoubtedly another overwhelming success for the UFC, having sold out the O2 arena in 36 hours. Twitter also erupted with huge excitement over the Swede, Alexander Gustafsson and his win over home-town boy Jimi Manuwa. Here is a look at the summary of the event on Twitter, including some surprises.
Following the event, the organisation has already announced the return of the UFC to London on the 28th February 2015.
We noticed throughout the evening that there was no shortage of celebrities that were engaged to the occasion, with many not being known as MMA fans, such as Swedish PSG Striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was quick to congratulate his fellow Swede on the victory.
Big up @AlexTheMauler. I’m much more happy about your victory than about my game and record today. UFC champ next. Braaaaavo!
— Zlatan Ibrahimović (@Ibra_official) March 8, 2014
There were also surprises in terms of large amount of interactions from teenage girls. The hysteria was created by the attendance of One Direction member Niall Horan, with photos of the singer dominating the timeline of anybody searching the event. The popstar claimed the third highest number of interactions, after the official UFC and official UFC UK Twitter accounts.
We have previously written about UFC President Dana White’s aggressive strategy on social, engaging with fans on a level that is both atypical and refreshing from the figurehead of a sports organisation. We have also talked about the importance of being reactive on social media, and how momentum is key for seeking to trend on Twitter. White seems to have heeded our advice and used the popularity of the aforementioned boy band member to the UFC’s advantage, by sharing this tweet:
— Dana White (@danawhite) March 8, 2014
This next tweet by Jimi Manuwa’s personal trainer, had the highest overall reach of any ‘UFC London’ tweet, despite the original only being retweeted 18 times. It was shared by influencers such as MC Hammer (mentioned in the tweet), Rapper and UFC fan Professor Green, as well as London Welsh rugby players, Ollie Frost and Seb Jewell.
— Richard Tidmarsh (@RichTidmarsh) March 8, 2014
The growth of the UFC worldwide has been rapid, yet nothing has changed in terms of the UFC’s social media strategy.
In our previous UFC article, we also spoke about Dana White and the UFC not only supporting social media interaction, but embracing it. The flexibility of the sport means that White takes notice of the buzz on social media, and can arrange fights that will maximise ratings. The UFC is unique as a sport on social media, with the fighters given a free-voice, one that is in fact taken notice of. It has been well noted, that Alexander Gustafsson is looking for a rematch against Jon Jones and the Swede took to Twitter to voice this desire after his win on Saturday night. Dana White also reacted to the win by swiftly confirming a rematch should Jones win his next fight.
“I want my title shot. Whenever you want!”
— Alexander Gustafsson (@AlexTheMauler) March 8, 2014
They were BLASTIN!!!!!! Now if @JonnyBones wins we have a NASTY rematch!
— Dana White (@danawhite) March 8, 2014
The UFC regularly leads the way in engaging with fans through social media, and the buzz created by UFC Fight Night will undoubtedly help the organisation grow its fan base in the UK in the long term, engaging even teenage girls. Perhaps other sports organisations should follow the example of Dana White and the UFC, relating to fans on a personal level and reacting to events in the sport.
A key thing to take away from the success of UFC Fight Night on Twitter, is the importance of reaching out to key influencers, who as shown by the likes of Niall Horan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic can come in unexpected places, but can drive engagement.
The growth of the UFC worldwide has been rapid, yet nothing has changed in terms of the UFC’s social media strategy. White still speaks with his same voice he always had, his fighters are real people and his audience feel that connection.
Would the UFC be where it is without social media? From the mouth of UFC President Dana White himself, “I don’t know..but it would be much harder.”
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