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New UFC social media strategy: Fighters having phones for fan calls

According to Dave Meltzer in the newest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, UFC is encouraging fighters to be more accessible to fans.  It was even a key topic of discussion at the latest Zuffa fighters' summit (now including the Strikeforce roster) on top of the usual stuff about concussions, steroids, and financial planning.  As Mike Fagan noted at Bloody Elbow, one of these ways is increased Twitter activity.  There with a quarterly $5,000 bonus for the fighter who gets the most new followers in a quarter, the fighter who has the highest percentage increase in followers in a quarter, and the fighter who Dana White decides has written the most creative Tweets in a quarter.  The fighters are also being encouraged to post videos on YouTube.

The third suggestion is really odd, though.  It was suggested that the fighters get a separate mobile phone for fans to call at specific times to be posted online.  Are they serious?  Do they really expect anyone to do that?  While stalking is not any kind of issue since it wouldn't be a fighter's primary phone and it can be turned off when not in use, it seems like the result of thinking too far outside the box.  There might be the root of a good idea in there, like a fighter hosting a live call-in show or conference call online, but actually having a dedicated phone for fans to call during specially posted hours just comes off strange.

I honestly don't see fighters latching onto this, so UFC really should just use their existing production and streaming infrastructure to do some kind of call-in show regularly and do it at a higher level than anyone else.  They could bring in fighters to their studios if needed or have them call in, maybe using a video chat service like Skype (or an enterprise level solution like Vidyo that would provide better picture quality).  Screen the calls and have video of a specific fight cued up if it's asked about (and if their library is indexed by the move like WWE's is, cut to a specific moment if asked about).

Overall, just make it fun and relaxed and not some weird chore that every fighter is pushed to do constantly as part of his or her everyday life.  Honestly, would you ever expect WWE, any major sports league, any movie or TV studio, any record label, etc. ever asking this of their talent?  I shudder at the thought of the calls that Gina Carano would get.

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