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As if the battle of Hall of Famers at UFC 109, legalization of the sport in Wisconsin and the first-ever show in Australia at UFC 110 weren't milestones enough for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, February also set records on Twitter.
Dana White, UFC president, reached 1,000,000 followers on his Twitter account, @danawhite, on Tuesday, February 9th. Fewer than 250 of Twitter's millions of users have broken the one-million mark. White's inclusion in that elite list is testament to the meteoric rise of UFC.
"I love Twitter because I get to talk directly to UFC fans," said White. "Their support is awesome and has made the sport what it is today."
Like many big-name celebrities and brands, White uses his Twitter account to break news and promote events. But White has pioneered innovative uses of Twitter that truly bridge the gap between social interaction and digital marketing. White made national news last year after a series of Tweets promising free tickets to fans drew large crowds in cities from New York to LA. Watch a Twitter giveaway below.
Amy Martin, founder of Digital Royalty, a social media brand management company, credits White with taking advantage of the instant medium. "Through Twitter, Dana uniquely humanizes the UFC brand," she said. "The genuine, two-way communication and interaction he has with his followers is rare among any brand."
In addition to Dana's million-strong following, the @UFC account is poised to break the 100,000 follower mark in February. A Portuguese account, @ufc_brasil was launched in late January, joining global accounts @UFChoy (Spanish) and @UFC_JP_Official (Japanese). Other accounts in the Zuffa family include @ufcfightclub, @WEConVersus, @ufcstore and @ufcgym, giving the brand a combined Twitter presence of over 1.3 million followers.
UFC fighters and events routinely surface as top-ten trending topics on fight nights; UFC 100 was one of the top ten Sports topics on Twitter in 2009 -- just below the NFL but above the world champion New York Yankees.