The UFC selected social messaging app IRL (“in real life”) to become its official group messaging platform, according to a press release. The partnership kicks off Sept. 10 and allows fans to engage with each other and with athletes before and during UFC’s events.
With the partnership, IRL will launch a “Join the Conversation” campaign to promote live conversations between athletes and fans around pay-per-view events and will encourage fans to partake in polls, memes and prompts.
IRL will also utilize UFC’s “Social Tagboard” to highlight live commentary and polls from fans during events. The move signifies growing interest by brands to connect consumers from home.
The UFC’s choice to unite its fans under one social platform, dubbed a first-of-its-kind partnership, could lay the groundwork for similar activations across the sports industry as marketers look to appeal to both in-person attendees and at-home viewers following the pandemic.
Through IRL’s “Join the Conversation” campaign and use of the UFC’s “Social Tagboard,” fans of the fighting matches have the opportunity to come together regardless of location via chats, surveys, custom prompts and custom memes using IRL’s MeMix meme generator. By utilizing a shared platform, UFC has the opportunity to better track viewership and viewing consistency to better understand the market. The partnership also gives it an opportunity to tap into data regarding viewers’ interests and personalities as brands scramble for alternatives to the again-delayed third-party cookie deprecation.
In return, IRL gains access to UFC’s 185 million social media followers through prominent placements and content integrations at live events, in broadcast features, and through content distributed through UFC’s social media channels. Though a leading social platform among younger millennials and Gen Z consumers, IRL’s 20 million active users is just a fraction of UFC’s 690-million-person global fan base, unlocking the potential for the platform to mass appeal to target market segments.
Other activations for IRL include a branded presence inside UFC’s famous Octagon fighting ring at select pay-per-view events. The social platform will also be a presenting partner of UFC Live on TikTok, another move that could attract new users as one in five streaming users watch TikTok Live, with 62% watching it daily, according to a survey by Ipsos.
“The partnership marks an exciting pathway for IRL to tap into the devoted and passionate global UFC fan base, and we’re looking forward to continuing our growth alongside such a renowned organization,” said Abraham Shafi, CEO and founder of IRL, in the release.