Written by Damon Martin, MMAWeekly.com
In the 2010, the Academy Award winning feature “The Social Network” followed the path of Mark Zuckerberg as he worked alongside friends and classmates to create Facebook.
While the story, like many in Hollywood, was dramatized at certain points, the core plot is there about the initiative and creative genius involved to launch what is now one of the largest websites in the entire world, boasting over 500 million users.
In the world of mixed martial arts, unlike many other professional sports, social media has been embraced and accepted instead of shunned. UFC officials held a fighter summit in May and one of the major recurring themes was how to use social media as a way to build a fighter’s fan base.
While there are several fighters still getting used to posting daily on Twitter or even starting a Twitter account, UFC lightweight Joe Lauzon was at the forefront of the social media campaign before his employers could even say go.
A graduate of the Wentworth Institute of Technology with a degree in computer science, Lauzon has always embraced the digital aspects of expanding his footprint with fans. Long gone are the days of simply meeting people before or after an event.
Lauzon meets his fans daily through interaction on Twitter, Facebook, and his personal website. It’s actually a business he devotes a lot of his free time too as well.
“It’s pretty cool. I’m a computer science major, so I’m a huge nerd and I understood all the importance of all the social networking stuff years ago,” Lauzon said in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio.
“I’m reading about it all the time. I put at least a couple of hours in every single day working on that kind of stuff. I’m getting an iPhone app made, Facebook, Twitter, everything, so it’s definitely cool to be ahead of the curve on all that stuff.”
For the Massachusetts area fighter, it was never a duty that he had to carry out, it was something he was passionate about when no one had even really heard of Twitter.
“When I first fought (Jens) Pulver years ago, that was like 2006 or something, and I was using my MySpace and Facebook and all that kind of stuff back then. It’s definitely something I’ve been around for a long time,” Lauzon stated.
At the UFC Fighter Summit, Zuffa officials brought in Digital Royalty head Amy Martin to speak to the athletes and help them understand the importance and dividends that go along with accepting and embracing social media.
Lauzon surely learned a few tips along the way as well, but because he had already been involved in that side of creative marketing, he was a few steps ahead of everybody else in the room.
Now with social media push in full swing, Lauzon’s head start has given him over 30,000 followers on Twitter and nearly 17,000 fans on his Facebook fan page.
“It’s definitely a huge advantage to have so much experience in doing all the social networking for this particular stuff,” said Lauzon. “Just being a computer science major, I understand a lot of the technology all behind it and how it works, and the strength of each, and how you should use each. It’s good stuff.”
Along with being involved with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, Lauzon has also run his personal website JoeLauzon.com for several years. Instead of having a manager or webmaster run it or post things on his behalf, Lauzon takes personal charge of everything that happens there. It’s yet another way he interacts with fans.
“As a fighter, there’s only so much as far as official stuff to put up there. ‘Oh, I’m fighting this guy at this card’ or it’s ‘oh, thanks to everyone who helped me get ready for this fight’ and then that’s really it. There’s really nothing fighters put on their website if anything. So I just try to put up whatever stuff, just funny stuff,” Lauzon commented.
“I put up a zombie apocalypse conversation I had with one of my guys the other day, screen caps from my iPhone, just funny pictures, anything I think is funny or whatever, I’m all about putting that stuff out. If I think it’s funny. I assume other people will think it’s funny, too.”
Technology is just part of who Lauzon is as a person. He readily admits he’s a huge fan of any Apple products that are released and trades in his laptop for a new one about once a year. He’s even waiting patiently for the new Apple software called iOS5 to be released just so the auto correct on his iPhone stops being quite so frustrating.
Of course, not all fighters are going to be on par with Lauzon when it comes to using or studying how to truly evolve with social media in the world of MMA, but it’s something all fighters should embrace.
In the changing world of news and social interaction, Twitter and Facebook have become the CNN and World News Tonight of 2011 and beyond. And if there is a new invention for people to connect created, it’s likely Joe Lauzon will be one of the first people in line to learn about it.