Social Media Analytics Case StudyUFC Packs a Punch with Social MediaUFC demonstrates social media leadership using Simply Measured analytics. Social mediainnovation leads to measureable success for UFC.UFC, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is the fastest growing sport in the world inpart due to an innovative approach to social media. UFC recently implementedSimply Measured to super charge social media analytics and reporting for a recentevent. Along with UFC, we had the opportunity to create this case study highlightingUFC’s social media strategy and measurement approach using Simply Measured. thWe focused this analysis on the UFC event in Rio on August 27 and the core socialmedia efforts used to support this event.Facebook Fights: Exclusive Live Streaming for FacebookOverview of Program and Tactics:Facebook Fights are probably the best known and most successful social media program in the UFC’s playbook. By“liking” UFC’s Facebook page, fans gain free access to an exclusive live stream shown right on the UFC Fan Page.The UFC Rio event leveraged this program with two hours of free “Facebook Fights” leading up to the TV broadcast thand Pay-Per-View main event on August 27 .Measurement Approach and Analysis:For innovative social media programs that enter unchartered waters, measurement is critical. There are noindustry standards when you are blazing your own trail. By closely tracking engagement across channels duringUFC Facebook Fights, we can start to gain insights about this program’s impact.Looking at Facebook Engagement in 5 minute intervals during the UFC Rio broadcast, shows that Facebook Fightsset the tone. Naturally, Facebook engagement was the highest during this period. However, Facebook Fights alsoappear to be a catalyst for the ongoing conversation and engagement across channels. This program set the tone
for the evening with a massive initial burst of fan activity on Facebook generating news feed impressions, hashtagusage, and engagement with the @UFC Twitter handle.For market context, we compared UFC to other major in-season sports on Facebook. The activity generated forUFC Rio is above and beyond MLB and NFL brands pages at any point over the last 6 weeks. UFC also maintainshigher ongoing engagement rates compared to the NFL and MLB Facebook pages, even in the face of NFL week 1kick-off and MLB pennant races. Of course, this is not a perfect apples-to-apples comparison – NFL and MLB teamshave separate social media profiles that are not included. UFC has differentiated their social media strategy bydeveloping fan engagement around the UFC brand – not just the teams or athletes.In total, UFC Facebook programs have not only set UFC ahead in the size of their Facebook audience (“likes”) fromother leagues, but also total engagement levels and response rates on a per post basis. Using our six week sample,UFC’s Facebook dominance against these other sports brands is clear.
Event Hashtags: Focused and IntegratedOverview of Program and Tactics:UFC clearly understands the need to support organic conversations alongside their owned social media channels.UFC proliferated hashtags for each event, giving the organic conversation focus and a cohesive structure. UFCleveraged the streaming and TV broadcasts to promote these hashtags with frequent on-screen scrolls thatencourage viewers to participate in the conversation on Twitter.Measurement Approach and Analysis:Due to the fast-paced nature of the UFC events, reporting on 5 minute intervals was key to understand theconversation. A daily or even hourly analysis will hide most of the key trends in this case. Activity was strongthroughout the event – fans were reacting in real-time to all three parts of the broadcast. Naturally, the mainevent drew the largest spikes in activity.So just how big was this event? Going forward, we can use Rio as an internal benchmark and closely compare UFCevents to other major sports. For one recent data point, we compared UFC Rio to the 2011 MLB All-star HomerunDerby. This provides some context for massive scale achieved by UFC Rio. Going forward, this can be benchmarkedagainst major events across sports and pop culture.
The hashtag data collected gives UFC an opportunity to learn more about their fans’ preferences, behaviors, andstyles of engagement. For the purpose of this case study we won’t explore every angle. We took a quick look athow the conversation took shape around featured UFC athletes. This type of analysis can be used to find risingstars, popular match-ups, and inform future programming decisions. This become particularly powerful whencompared against past and future events.
Real-Time Fan Engagement on TwitterOverview of Program and Tactics:In addition to supporting the organic conversation on Twitter, UFC has developed a highly active Twitter presence.The @UFC handle has over 350K followers. UFC leveraged this channel to engage fans in real-time during the UFCRio event. The @UFC handle tweeted often, following the organic conversation, and reacting to the fights in real-time. This created fan engagement with the @UFC handle, complimenting the conversation around #UFCRio andFacebook Fights.Measurement Approach and Analysis:Again, this conversation was happening fast, so reporting on 5 minute intervals was critical to understand thetrends. Isolating @UFC sent Tweets alongside Retweets and @replies from followers helps show the specificimpact of UFC’s Twitter channel. This conversation was strong throughout the 3-part broadcast as UFC consistentlyand activity engaged fans.Zooming out, we can see that Twitter was clearly a focal point of UFC’s balanced strategy. Each channel served aclear purpose and generated a clear impact. Twitter was UFC’s primary outbound channel for real-timeengagement.
ConclusionUFC has become the world’s fastest growing sport, and their forward-thinking social media strategy has played acritical role in this rapid growth. This case study only shows a small sample of UFC’s balanced digital strategy. Forbrands like UFC that continue to push the envelope in social media, measurement and reporting is critical.Extracting timely insights about performance, customer behavior, and market trends, helps managementunderstand social media impact and make better business decisions.UFC has already blown past 3 of the 4 mainstream American sports in social media – we expect them to take thelead soon enough. That said, UFC isn’t just about getting fans and followers – they have a balanced and wellcoordinated strategy that drives engagement, advocacy, and real value for the UFC brand. In addition, the UFCteam understands the importance of measurement as they take this strategy to the next level.