Social Media Storytelling Strategy with UFC’s Eric Yee

“There’s certainly a lot of aspects to take into account each fight,” said Eric Yee, Social Media Manager for UFC. “We want to always stay on-brand and also stay relevant to the night itself.”

Overseeing all social media for UFC President, Dana White, and producing original content series like UFC Quick Hits Live, Eric Yee has a big responsibility to capture and tell big-time stories, while maintaining and growing the UFC brand. By leaning into the larger-than-life personalities of UFC’s biggest stars and celebrity fans, Yee has provided UFC fans with more exclusive access than ever before.

Live from the #Storyteller Experience stage, Eric Yee joins us to share stories of innovation from UFC Fight Island, strategies on how to capture and tell powerful stories using social media, and how to leverage big-time personalities to grow the brand.

On the creation and promotion of UFC Fight Island:

We used the mystique of this concept of Fight Island — where in the world was it? Are fighters going to be on the beach fighting underneath the palm trees and drinking coconut water between rounds, or really what is it going to entail? There was a whole lot of speculation, so we went into that fully. Everything from social media assets, postcard style, promotional posts, and engaging with fighters to really lean into the concept that this is UFC Fight Island.

On the concept of UFC Quick Hits:

We do interviews with influencers and celebrities. And then we also do post-fight interviews with the fighters, still drenched in sweat and, their hair is still messed up and stuff like that.

So really the goal was to provide fans with the other side of it — what’s it like to really be at an event? You can see fighters walking past, you see fighters engage with each other as they’re about to go to the octagon or as they just get back from their medicals. It’s really been interesting for fans.

On building up the storylines using social media:

The entire (UFC) roster is full of alpha males and females who really think that they are the best at what they do. So we’ve been integrating tweets and instant reaction on quick hits — from call-outs to friendly banter between fighters, between celebrities, and even betting odds to really kind of help feed along the storyline.

Keys to success on UFC Quick Hits viewership:

We lean quite heavily into influencer marketing. Fans like Steve-O from Jackass, who’s a diehard fan, or Chase, the main character from the Netflix special, Outer Banks. We leveraged his, meteoric rise with Netflix combined with a big event that we had here in Las Vegas and connected him with the talent to talk about expectations for the night and make predictions. So really leaning into the pop culture aspect, along with the UFC environment and fandom.

On involving UFC President, Dana White, more into the content strategy:

We get to throw stuff at the walls and see what sticks. So one of the things that we tried was, knowing that Dana has quite the Rolodex, doing Instagram lives. Very casual at-home conversations between Dana and his celebrity friends or people who have been to events, seeing what projects they’re up to, if they have a prediction, or if they’re rooting for a certain athlete throughout the night.

It’s just a whole lot of fun to talk about two different worlds — Dana’s world within the UFC and the influencer, be it JJ Watt preparing for the season or Swizz Beatz pulling in these huge name artists.

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