The Professional Fighters League, also recognised as the ‘PFL’, is a unique combat sports promotion that presents MMA through a sport-season format. The PFL obtains a play-off and championship structure within their promotion, making them stand out against other companies like the UFC and ONE Championship. Across social media, the company have gained 2.8m+ followers (primarily across Facebook and TikTok) alongside 336k YouTube subscribers. This blog will discover how the PFL has built their brand online through fan engagement tactics, storytelling methods for its athletes and strategies to build connections with new audiences.
Across Twitter, PFL content involves the brand promoting partnerships through athlete-driven marketing, sharing fight announcements and highlights alongside paying tribute to fighters depending on their life events.
Some of the PFL’s widely recognised partners recently include fan token company, socios.com, MMA scoring platform, Verdict MMA and game developer Rival Games. For example, PFL fighter, Emiliano Sordi, has been involved in a video endorsing the brand and fans for engaging in the context. Content like this can take the brand far to raise further awareness to new audiences with initiatives like this.
Fight announcements happen to be the PFL’s most engaging piece of content across Twitter. It communicates various points for the consumers, including broadcast networks to watch events, the time it starts, and the fighters featured. Ultimately, the PFL has added value for their fanbase through a single post, which is their core product.
As my previous blogs cover, fight highlights are an essential part of a combat sports promotions content strategy. This stream showcases what the fighters are most recognised for and introduces different fighting styles that can raise awareness for new audiences of the fight game. The PFL also creates multiple purposes with fight highlights, including throwback occasions, narrating a fighter’s story alongside comparing fighting styles.
Paying attention to the life events of former and current athletes is a way to build emotional connections with your audience. For example, Marlon Moraes used to fight in the PFL but moved to the UFC and has recently announced retirement. The content team at the PFL see this as a golden opportunity to drive engagement and remind audiences that this was a figure who represented their promotion.
The PFL’s Facebook content heavily consists around fight highlights, capturing the decisions of fights going the distance, and throwback content alongside close-up shots of finishes. Their most-engaged content includes capturing the end of fights where the judge’s scorecards are announced. This demonstrates the PFL’s Facebook audience appreciates close-up/emotional moments provoking fans to feel close connections to their fighters.
The PFL’s TikTok strategy heavily promotes behind-the-scenes content, diverse camera angle footage of fights, championing their fighters preferring the PFL compared to other MMA promotions alongside integrating out-of-context moments with their athletes.
Despite the diverse house of content, the PFL’s most viewed pieces, excluding ones including superstar Kayla Harrison, consist of behind-the-scenes access to photoshoots which contributes to the final products we see on PFL graphics. Online consumers naturally have an appetite for viewing content like this to access how elements are created. Plus, fight highlights captured from close-up angles are another piece of content scoring high engagement because it showcases ‘already seen’ content from a different perspective. The PFL even resorts to sharing still images on TikTok and asking their audience to comment captions, which proves effective as they’re a well-known brand across combat sports.
Ultimately, TikTok communicates a lighter but more open tone of voice to their game through TikTok to allow new audiences to at least gain awareness of MMA.
Long-form fight highlights lead PFL’s YouTube content game, utilising YouTube shorts for highlights during competition, short-form documentary-style clips, and behind-the-scenes snippets alongside fighter interviews.
As expected, long-form fight highlights acquire the most viewership, and their YouTube channel is predominantly utilised to showcase their competition through its core product. This is sub-accompanied with personal-style access to some of the fighters.
On Instagram, their regular content streams include fight announcements, in-fight photo carousels, sponsorship endorsements through above Octagon shots, and fighter face-offs alongside short-form highlights.
The PFL’s most viewed content entails promoting fighters in trailers and compilations of finishes alongside fight announcements. Ultimately, these content streams endorse an emotional connection from the consumer.
Like YouTube, Instagram promotes the core product of the PFL, which is their fight game but in a shorter format.
To summarise, the PFL adapt each channel uniquely to match the audiences’ behaviours. For example, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter capitalise on diverse content streams to capture attention. On the other hand, Facebook and YouTube revolve around promoting more of the core product to enhance the long-term fans.
The PFL’s tactics to engage fans differs on each platform. On Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, it revolves around promoting short-form storytelling alongside encouraging engagement from their audience through ‘the best caption wins’ and out-of-context memes.
What has caught your eye about the PFL’s content strategy?