I have to admit: when I heard that Dana White would be keynoting at NMX 2013, my initial thought was, “Who?”
Our co-founders, Rick Calvert and Dave Cynkin, were extremely excited, both being huge UFC fans. But as someone who is not into UFC or other fighting sports, the name was not familiar to me. It is now, in a huge way.
With over 2.3 million fans on Twitter and a complete sports empire built on social media, anyone in the social space would be shooting themselves in the foot not to listen to what this guy has to say. After his keynote at NMX, Dana sat down with Rick and Dave to talk about Twitter and dish out a little general social media advice to anyone smart enough to listen. How did he grow his personal following and his business using social media? Check out what he has to say:
You can see Dana’s full keynote at NMX University, where you’ll also find access to more keynotes from our 2013 event, bonus interviews with other speakers, and more.
Social Media Success Secrets with Dana White Transcript
Rick Calvert (0:05): We are backstage in the green room, here with Dana White. Dana I know…
Dave Cynkin (0:10: At New Media Expo!
Rick (0:11): At New Media Expo. And I know you get this, I mean, as Dino said earlier, was talking to you. I don’t get star struck either. I’m freaking star stuck, man.
Dana White (0:21 Thank you. I’m honored.
Rick (0:23): I mean, we’re huge fight fans. Thank you so much for coming to the show, we really appreciate it.
Dana (0:26): Pleasure.
Rick (0:27): You said something in the keynote that you love Twitter. Why do you love Twitter so much?
Dana (0:33): I love Twitter because, first of all, it give me the ability to cut out all the middle men. Meaning the media or whoever it might be. And I can talk directly to our fans or whoever wants to talk to me. You know, you’d be surprised how many, you know, how many amazing things that I’ve done, you know, real time with our business through Twitter.
Rick (0:56): By the way, is this the strangest place ever don an interview before?
Dana (0:59): No, actually it’s not. Funny you should ask.
Rick (1:01): What is the strangest place?
Dana (1:02): I’ve literally done one…I did this interview one time in the bathroom at the Hard Rock. Because the guy liked the tile in there, so we did it in the bathroom.
Rick (1:11): And were people coming in and?
Dana (1:12): Yeah, people were walking by us and, whatever.
Rick (1:16): Very good. So, Google+, you haven’t used Google+ yourself, but I was talking to your content guy earlier, and I know you said you weren’t using Instagram. But as an organization, you’ve got people on almost every social channel.
Dana (1:28): Every platform. Every platform or social media that has ever been created, we’ve been on and we’re engaged in some way. But me, personally, Twitter is for me. It just works a lot easier for me. Twitter is…Twitter is what I’m into.
Rick (1:43): Do you think it’s important to pick one platform and just kind of live there? Or can you do two or three different things good?
Dana (1:49): I think you can do two of three things good if you’re really into it. I’m really into Twitter. It’s easy for me, it’s fast, it’s simple. You know, it’s what works for me. And that’s the thing. When I talk about social media, whether your thing is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever it might be. Whatever works for you, you absolutely 100% should do it and figure out what does work for you and what works for your business or your brand or whatever it is you’re into.
Dave (2:19): What about control? I mean, you, I don’t want to say let things get out of control, but most companies are so shielded and so guarded about what they say. They don’t let people from their company speak without following a specific legal policy. And you let it fly, and it’s great because everybody…all these fans feel like they’re like you, and you’re like them. You’re just another fan.
Dana (2:37): It’s what’s made us unique and makes us different than every other sport. You know, I’ve been the way that I’ve been day one, since we started this company. And it has allowed me more slack than some of these other guys have or will ever have. But I think that it’s…The way that I run the business, the way that I interact with the fans and the way that the UFC does things. I think it’s the future. I think you have to be this way, you have to be. The younger generations, they live on social media. This is where these kids live. They live on the Internet. They live on YouTube, the Internet, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and all these others. That’s where they live. If you don’t go meet these people and engage with them where they live…I don’t know. It’s not good for the future of your business.
Rick (3:31): So, one of the questions I was going to ask is if you think the UFC is particularly positioned, you know, in the world that you’re in makes social media easier for you? And, say, maybe a Fortune 100 company, maybe Ford, can’t be as transparent as you because their business is different than yours. Or do you think they should be just as transparent as you?
Dana (3:50): No, it’s not about being as transparent as me but, I don’t care if you’re Ford or Microsoft or whoever. You should live where your fans are. You have to get in there at some point and live where your fans live. You have to be there. Or your customers, or whatever you want to call them. You don’t have to be like me. I would never recommend going out and acting like me on Twitter or any other place because that might not work for you. But it worked for me.
Rick (4:18): And, when I hear you talk about the UFC, and you said you’ve been a fight fan since you were a kid. We were talking about that a little bit before. Do you feel like you have a responsibility to fight fans? Not just UFC fans, but fight fans in general with the way you guys direct the UFC and where you’re taking it.
Dana (4:35): I think so, yeah. You know, at the end of the day, the way that I Iook at the business and the way that I look at my job and what I do is; I’m asking you to stay home on Saturday night and sometimes put down 45, 50 bucks, watch these fights. And, yeah, I think that it’s my job to give you the fights that you want to see. To give you as much access to the UFC as we possibly can. That’s another thing that we’re really big on, is giving the fans as much access as they can possibly have. Looking behind the curtain, getting behind the scenes. And really making them feel like a part. Because I remember being a kid and what a huge fight fan I was. And, for me, and I keep talking all this stuff that shows how old I really am, it’s like, all I had was the newspaper. Every Sunday, they would come out on the back page and it was all boxing. It’s the only thing I read. I wouldn’t read any other part of the newspaper except that boxing section. And I remember how engaged I was, how…I just couldn’t consume enough information about the fights. And I told you guys earlier, I knew everybody, man. The guy over here that rang the bell. I knew the guy who, you know, the cutmen. I knew everybody. And that’s what’s really, you know, the way that the UFC was built and designed is that fans who are really, you know, into it…everybody is interactive. You can interact with everybody from the octagon girls to the cutmen, the referees, I mean everybody.
Dave (6:07): You know, the fighters, the businesses, now, that came to this conference that are learning from you. Is there anybody that you see using social media, where you watch what they do and you say, “That’s really a good idea, I didn’t think of that,” and you learn from them? Is there anybody that you kind of…?
Dana (6:22): You know, I follow a lot of different people on there and everybody has their own unique style of tweeting. And, you know, putting out whatever message it might be. I can’t stand people who keep constantly tweeting ads. Or always pitching or selling or doing something like that. It drives me crazy. I block those people. And I don’t block many people. I like people…I follow people that are real. I like people who talk real. I like people who are interesting, and will tweet interesting things. But I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody that was like, “Wow, this guy has really got it on lock down. I gotta do what this guy is doing.” And not to sound like a cocky idiot, but a lot of people follow what we do and start, you know, doing the stuff that we do on Twitter.
Rick (7:15): It sounds like you’ve learned some things what not to do by seeing what other people do.
Dana (7:19): Yeah, and that’s…I’ve done that my whole life. I look at what people do that I don’t like and making sure that I don’t do that.
Rick (7:27): You mentioned that about boxing earlier, you don’t want to be like them.
Dana (7:28): Yeah, that was our model. Is to do the exact opposite of what those guys have done over the last 35-40 years.
Rick (7:34): So, you guys do this amazing job engaging with your fans in social media and giving us access to things that we wouldn’t get in other places. How’s the culture inside the UFC? Do you guys use, you said earlier, if anybody wants to know what’s going on with the company who works there, watch your Twitter feed. You guys talk to each other on Twitter? You send direct message to people in the company?
Dana (7:55): Yeah, I’ll see people in my company that pop up on my Twitter and say stuff. You know, we do things, you know…we let the fans see a lot of personal stuff through Twitter. At our Christmas party, we were Tweeting, you know, pictures of, you know, we had the Red Hot Chili Peppers play at our Christmas party. And people were sending out pictures of that. I was on stage drunk; I saw a few of those pictures out there. There were a lot of things going on. So we let people in. We let them deep in. And that’s part of the fun of being a fan of the UFC. There’s nothing that we don’t let people see. We let them see everything. We let them see behind the curtain.
Dave (8:34): You know, something that you mentioned today; you don’t like it when the athletes think they’re comedians and make mistakes. And I’ve seen those things and…
Dana (8:42): I’ve made mistakes too.
Dave (8:43: I just going to ask. You’ve done a lot of great things. What you done anything that you thought, “Wow, that was a real mistake,” and what did you do about it online?
Dana (8:52): Yeah, I mean, you know, to say that I’ve never tweeted anything stupid would be stupid. I have tweeted some dumb things myself. That’s always my philosophy. When somebody does something wrong, the world freaks out. Like, “Oh my God, how could this happen?” Because we’re human beings. And we’re all going to make mistakes, and we’re all going to do stupid stuff sometimes. Everybody’s had that tweet that they wish they could reel back. But, you know, once it goes, it is what it is and, there’s, you know, you have to deal with it here and there.
Rick (9:24): Own up to is, accept it.
Dana (9:25): Yeah, it is what it is. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen. If you consistently keep tweeting stupid stuff, then it’s a whole different level. You know. Then we’ve got to talk.
Rick (9:38): Dana, thank you so much for all the time. We’re honored to have you with us.
Dana (9:41): Pleasure, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.