I was surprised to recently learn that a young, female colleague is a diehard Ultimate Fighting Championship fan.
There is no doubt the UFC has generated controversy – but that hasn't stopped its fan base from growing at a very fast pace. Mixed martial arts have exploded in popularity, and few expect the momentum to slow down any time soon.
As I spoke with more of my colleagues, I learned that UFC has harnessed the power of social media to build excitement and interest and connect directly with fans in an incredible way.
UFC is known for being very accessible to its loyal followers. UFC president Dana White has more than 1.2 million fans on Twitter. UFC's Facebook page has more than 4.4 million "likes" and the brand also hosts an active web site and YouTube channel.
Social media outreach from the president and the fighters appears to be a key component of UFC's marketing game plan. Mr. White is known for his frank nature and impromptu ticket giveaways via Twitter. With Mr. White at the helm, the UFC is delivering a level of authenticity and accessibility that many other big sports just don't have.
The company's investment in social media can be a lesson for any small company.
Small businesses are often faced with a classic chicken-and-egg scenario: Will generating positive media attention get the excitement of fans, or will the excitement of fans grab the media's attention?
If you run a small business and are having trouble gaining the kind of attention from big influencers that you want, it doesn't have to be a show-stopper these days.
The evolution of digital communications has transformed our collective audience into the biggest influencer of all – and through social networking and other digital communications platforms, we can now easily, and cost-effectively, get our audience excited and give them the channels and the venues they need to participate and be involved.
I may not be an ultimate fighting fan – but there is something to be said for the excitement the organization has generated with its brand.
The takeaway is this: If you're not getting the kind of coverage that you'd like, you need, in your own unique way, to keep working on getting your audience, customers and teams excited. Once you achieve that, you will create a story that will be hard for others to ignore.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mia Pearson is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies.