By Ross Canning @MMAmicks who conceived, created and brought mmamicks.com to the position of being Ireland’s top site for quality MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) content. Here it is, in his own words…

Internet marketing on a shoestring is tough, very tough. Trying to get the biggest bang for your buck is a constant source of frustration, a series of educated guesses and a steep learning curve.

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Way back in just about this time 2013, MMA Micks was but at twinkle in my eye. A lifelong fan and part time pugilist in combat sports. I came to a decision to marry my knowledge and of all things internet and my love of  combat sports, but in particular mixed martial arts, to create what you see today.

In the eleven months since its launch on February 2nd 2014. Micks has grown to have the largest following of any site of its kind on social media in Ireland and much of the UK.

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How did that happen you might ask? What were the key ingredients and what if any have been the benefits to date?

First of all the benefits. From a personal standpoint, personalities who I would only been able to view from afar, I now get to meet and interview. I sometimes feel like a kid in a candy shop, getting to interact with athletes and personalities I hold in such high esteem. These have been some of the obvious benefits of combining my know how in digital media with a sport I love.

As we move into monetizing what we have built, the point of developing the site, our brand, was to:

  1. Build a business around something we love.
  2. Cover the sport with some personality and stand out from the crowd. Promote the sport and it’s athletes at home and abroad.

Micks consists of a number of freelance writers who dedicate their time to creating quality multimedia content for our followers. For us that is the real foundation on which our success has been built. The tagline the movie Fields of Dreams with Kevin Costner, was a constant thought I had in my mind. “If you build it they will come.”

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Plan, prepare, launch

We built it. We populated it and we pushed it. Prior to any launch we insured we had created relevant Facebook and Twitter accounts. These were live some time before we began to post and tweet about our upcoming launch date.

The targeting of key players in our industry was very important. We engaged with personalities in the national scene by including their twitter handle in relevant content. Speaking with and interviewing some of the less well known people allowed us to create a solid local base from which we could work on attracting more widely known interviewees.

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Content is key, content is king.

Trying to stay up to date and or ahead of the curve with Google algorithms had me pulling out my remaining hair. Instead we focused on the quality of our content and followed some optimisation basics. Good titles, heading, alt tags, meta descriptions, keyword content… I felt that asking my other writers to curb their style to please the algo’s was a step too far. Let others chase their tails and the tech geniuses at Google. Keep it simple, keep it natural.

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Vary your content

We pushed out a variety of content on our social media to keep our followers engaged and help spread the message, to evangelize. This was integral to our rapid growth. We sourced video, created graphics, reposted other people’s posts and tweets on our timeline. We focused on quality over quantity, and tried not to annoy people. Don’t post anything and everything in order to just keep your social media ticking over. Be selective, take off the beer goggles!

Using facebook ads

Facebook no longer want you to grow your followership organically. There is no money in that! You will be lucky if 1 – 2% of your followers get to see what you post on your business page. Seriously, it’s sometimes even less than that, maybe 0.5%. As a business page owner, we are at their beck and call. The only real way to grow your page ‘Likes’ is to use Facebook Ad’s. It may take some time and some cash. Try getting the cost of those ‘Likes’ down as low as possible. The longer you spend at it the better you will get. Be prepared to dedicate a portion of your budget to that cause. Otherwise, you may be picking up your pension before you hit those desired numbers.

 Be patient, automate

All this takes time. Automate as much as you can. Schedules posts on Facebook. Minimise as much as possible the need to be sitting in front of that pc (Note to self: Follow your own advice.) Keep things fun, exciting, educational and engaging. It’s all about the engagement. If others don’t find what you are posting their cup of tea, don’t carry on doing the same thing. Learn, adapt and pivot. Give your followers what they want, not what you want to give them.

But get it out there

In our case aggressively pushing our brand has worked. Not waiting around for others to hopefully stumble across us across the great expanses of the internet. Getting in people’s faces, showing them what we are about. Saying if you want some, here we are… yes it does sound a bit pushy. But we let users decide what they do and don’t like for themselves.

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If you’re hiding away, hoping for a knight in shining armour to come along and save your business, you will be left holding the bag. Get out there, go get it and if people don’t like it, move on. There’s plenty more where they came from. Remember! Duck and dive, stick and move and most importantly of all, show no fear.