Social Media as a Means to Connect with Consumers
More and more, firms are turning their backs on traditional sources of media and focusing their effortson taking advantage of the developments in social media as a means of connecting with theirconsumers. One study (Barnes and Mattson, 2008) has found that the fastest growing companies, Inc.500, are more likely to be engaged in the use of social media as a means to reach customers than moreestablished Fortune 500 companies. By utilising new technologies firms are increasingly able toidentify and target specific segments of their target market with more appropriate messages which
meet the consumers‟ personal needs. This allows firms to build brand awareness and to nurture a
tween the consumers and the brand. Vargo and Lusch (2004) commented “
The focus isshifting away from tangibles and toward intangibles, such as skills, information, and knowledge, andtoward interactivity and connectivity and on-going relationships
One company which is at the forefront of social media promotion is the Ultimate Fighting
Championship. The UFC is the worlds‟ premier Mixed Martial Arts organisation, a private company,
with an estimated worth of over $1 billion. As a relatively new sport, MMA has developed in syncwith the new technologies of the digital age. The majority of fans are in the 18-34 demographic andare tech savvy. UFC President Dana White is an outspoken proponent of social media. His officialtwitter has over 1.3million followers and he regularly responds to fans tweets concerning both hisown company and his competition. The UFC holds approximately twenty live events per year and inthe week preceding these events Dana White records himself for his online blog, which regularlyreceives hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
In mid-January of 2011 the UFC announced a deal with Facebook which allowed them to streamseveral untelevised undercard fights live on their Facebook page. In order to view these fightsconsum
ers had to log into Facebook and „like‟ the UFC page. According to Mendoza (2011) this dealnetted the UFC approximately 66,000 „likes‟ for their page in just one weekend. This represents a
huge potential for reaching new customers as people may see a lot of their friends liking a page andthen they themselves may view the page. By giving away these fights free of charge they are hopingto encourage people to purchase their Pay-Per-Views. Many fans who may not have consideredpurchasing the P.P.V.s may have their opinion changed by a particularly exciting fight which they seefor free. This also, potentially, allows the UFC to gain access to the demographics of those who haveviewed the fights on their page, as Facebook users usually log in with their real identity. This wouldprovide them with invaluable marketing data about their consumers.