First Social Media Incentive Program for Athletes

By: Britt Johnson

The NBA, NFL, and other professional sports leagues are all too familiar with handing down fines to athletes (and owners/coaches) who violate their social media policies. The UFC has no interest in collecting money from its own athletes. Instead, they are doing the reverse in handing out the cash—$240,000 annually to be exact.

This week UFC president Dana White announced the first-ever incentive-based social media program for fighters during the UFC Summit in Las Vegas where more than 300 fighters were required to go through Digital Royalty University social media training. The allotted money will be dispersed as quarterly bonuses to fighters who make the most impact with their personal Twitter accounts.

Competition was in the air as the program was announced to more than 300 fighters at the annual UFC Summit at the Red Rock Casino in Vegas. Thousands of fans, fighters and media outlets followed along here using the #UFCSummit Hashtag where thousands of tweets were exchanged real-time throughout the week. Mashable and Sports Business Journal also covered the news.

The UFC understands the power of social media. The goal for the incentive program is to encourage the athletes to embrace these new communication tools and increase fan engagement. The UFC and related Twitter accounts are already known for their fighter-to-fighter interactions. The heightened engagement will strengthen the organization’s network, allowing for quick message delivery, more fighter-to-fan interaction and most importantly it provides exclusive value to new and existing fans.

Starting June 1st, Stikeforce and UFC fighters will be divided into four groups depending on their number of followers. From those groups, three winners will be named in the following categories, each receiving $5,000 for most followers gained, highest percentage of followers gained and most creative campaign.

A social media powerhouse himself, Dana knows the influence Twitter followers carry. Factor in a few hundred additional social media-savvy athletes, and you have a force to be reckoned with.

For more information about Digital Royalty University, email Info@TheDigitalRoyalty.com

Celebrity Shares Phone Number with 4.3 Million Fans

It happened so quickly, some of us may not have even noticed. But one night, several weeks ago, a president of a professional sports league sent out his office phone number to over 1 million fans. By accident.

What happened next? Well, the expected. The phone began ringing off the hook and fans retweeted the phone number, spreading it like wildfire. What was less expected was when the pro sports president began fielding these calls and carried on conversations with numerous fans for close to 90 minutes.

This was Dana White, President of UFC. What was Dana’s initial reaction? “If I’m dumb enough to tweet my number on here, I’m going to sit here and I’m going to talk to these people.”

At Digital Royalty, we listened to the overwhelmingly positive fan feedback and knew we could build upon this situation, learn something from the “accident” and make it something bigger. We used Dana’s serendipitous, misfired tweet as inspiration to develop a concept that will give fans unprecedented access to this larger than life personality. We always set out to bridge the virtual and physical worlds, providing value to fans when, where and how they want to receive it.

Dana now has a socially dedicated phone line with a number that will be available through all his social media channels, which total 4.3 million fans on Facebook and Twitter combined. Whenever Dana has free time to chat with fans, he’ll turn the phone on and invite the 4.3+ million people to give him a ring. Taking time to talk with fans is something that Dana really enjoys. This concept wouldn’t work without an authentic desire to connect with his fans.
When asked about accidently tweeting his number, Dana said: “And then when it was over I was like, that was cool, I’m actually glad that happened.”

On Saturday, Dana gave his phone number to the 4.3 million fans. Within 5 minutes, his number reached over 9 million people via social media due to celebrities retweeting the number. We shared the experience virtually by hypersyndicating video of this taking place for his entire network to watch. The fan reaction was just as we anticipated. Fans from the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and all over the world called in to make their predications moments before the event. A powerful testament to social media providing a unique value to fans that can’t be found anywhere else.