Social media is transforming sports and sports businesses. Although businesses traditionally seek to benefit from hospitality, sponsorship and networking, social media offers greater reach and direct engagement.
By engaging fans via social media, sports rights holders can open new communication channels with their audience that can be measured and valued as a new commercial opportunity with sponsors.
The aforementioned platform has been likewise used by the constantly-growing world of mixed martial arts (MMA). Given how little exposure the sport received in its early stages, its rise in popularity over the last 25 years is nothing short of a phenomenon.
A large part of MMA's success worldwide comes down to its aggressive social media strategy, with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter aiding its mainstream development.
Since its inception in 2011, ONE Championship has been utilizing the flexibility of social media to promote its unique brand and to tap a wider audience.
Along with the rise of MMA as a whole, ONE Championship has taken the sport in Asia to new heights. The biggest local and global brands in the world have been attracted to ONE and a number of key partnerships have formed over the years.
The list includes Disney, Marvel, LG, Kawasaki, Panasonic, Haier, Universal Music Group and Tune Talk, to name a few. The company's ability to form deals that are mutually beneficial to all parties has been essential in its growth.
With innovative content and marketing initiatives, ONE Championship has been able to bring world-class MMA action much closer to diehard and loyal fans.
Asia's largest sports media property has further extended its influence on Facebook, which has 1.79 billion monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2016.
In 2014, ONE Championship's total reach on Facebook was 75 million. It grew to 926 million in 2016, having an exponential growth rate of 1,134%.
On the other hand, its total impressions raised the bar up high in 2016 with a 268% progress. From 352 million impressions in 2014, 2016 had an astonishing figures of 1.3 billion.
ONE Championship also released an array of informative and in-depth videos in 2016, which gained 130 million views in total. It grew significantly from 312,000 in 2014.
Meanwhile, ONE Championship had 454,000 shares on Facebook in 2016, flourishing from modest numbers of 16,000 in 2014.
At the time of publication of this article, ONE Championship's official Facebook page has 3,078,730. It is expected to broaden its leverage on Facebook with its blockbuster 2017 schedule.
Being the biggest MMA promotion in Asia, ONE Championship's ability in producing relevant and top-of-the-line content is undeniable. From short profile infographics, interesting interviews, to thrilling teaser videos, ONE Championship fans have followed the brand and conveniently made the organization's social media one of the leaders of online sports content.
ONE Championship followers found touchpoints that enabled them to connect with their favorite MMA stars and even interact with their heroes behind the scenes through their posted stories.
Its relevance and talkability among the target market – fans and athletes alike – have furthered ONE Championship's growth and led its way to becoming the greatest sports media property in Asia.
ONE Championship's strategy of creating unique content has also helped them build successful partnerships with both mainstream and modern media platforms, which in return resulted to the expansion of its social media audience through captured audiences from one partner to another.