By Pat Graham
Even with the best seat in the building, UFC president Dana White spends more time staring at his phone than the fights in front of him.
At these main events, he’s simply more interested in a ringside view into the world of social media.
With the fights in full swing, White closely monitors the Internet traffic on his BlackBerry, keeping tabs on what fans are discussing through Twitter or Facebook and handling potential problems before they fester.
If the cable goes out in Iowa during a pay-per-view event, White will become aware of it through Facebook and call a contact to investigate.
Should a problem arise with tickets, he will know through Twitter and instantly address it.
White and the UFC have embraced all aspects of social media to broaden the appeal of mixed martial arts.
The connection is a natural fit because the organization relied heavily on the Web to promote itself nearly a decade ago, when hardly any of the mainstream media gave the events much coverage.
And monitoring reaction in real time is a boon for White’s business since it helps him instantly deal with any gripes.
Before each big event, White assembles what he calls “The Lab” in a back room. It’s a bank of computers set up to track everything that’s being uttered about the UFC on social media.
“I’m not the guy to go out and tell these other leagues what to do; the NFL and NBA have been very successful without my advice,” said White, who’s in Vancouver, British Columbia, for UFC 131. “But the reality is this: The younger generation, they’re on Twitter, they’re on Facebook, they’re on the Internet. The world is changing and it’s changing fast.”
UFC now boasts more than 5.6 million Facebook friends, second only to the NBA (9.4 million) among America’s big sports. The organization also has more Facebook popularity than the league home pages for NFL, MLB and NHL combined (5.5 million).1 2 3 next >>