This weekend sees a return to the ring of one of Britain’s boxing legends of recent years. Ricky Hatton is one of my favourite sportsmen of all time, totally grounded and humble yet one hell of a boxer. I can even remember back to the start of his pro career in the days when ITV were showing all the big fights.
Ricky is now 34 and has not fought since his big money defeat to one of the best boxers there has ever been, Manny Pacquiao. Now he is back and looking in good shape again as he looks forward to fighting Vyacheslav Senchenko at Manchester Arena on Saturday.
Social media has played a big part in the plans set out by Ricky and his team to help build up the fight, his career and get bums on seats for his fights. They, probably rightly, would have looked at the first fight and wondered if anyone would turn up (or sell out the fight anyway) as he is not the force or public figure he once was.
So this year they have been building things up steadily. Ricky started on Twitter in January this year and gives a great insight into what he gets up to on a daily basis. He also gives access to fans to speak direct to him and he is very good at getting back to as many as he can.He now has a following just shy of 200,000 fans which gives him a good base to start from.
He also has his team active on several platforms. His site www.hattonboxing.com keeps fans up to date with everything he is doing and interviews other boxers in his stable. The YouTube page has almost 3,000 subscribers and over 3m views, providing a great source for boxing fans in general, not just Ricky fans.
Recently he ran a quick Twitter Q&A where he took questions from his account and then filmed his responses which were released in 2 YouTube videos. They haven’t had a huge pick up, only 5,000 views but it shows how willing he is to open up to his fans and bring them closer to the action.
On top of this he has been asking fans to send in their motivational messages for him using the tag #RickysCorner. It’s a great way of getting the fans attention and rewarding them for helping him for his big fight. The nice thing to take it a step further is to take his favourites and make them into posters.
These posters are displayed on the wall of his gym to provide extra motivation and then signed and sent to the fans, as well as giving them a shout out on Twitter showing their words on the design. It’s similar to what brands have done before but in such a nice artistic way that it will really appeal to those who have liked him over the years.
This morning he also revealed a great new pair of shorts for the fight that include his twitter hashtag. It is the result of working closely with Fast Track Agency on pushing him on platforms that just weren’t that relevant in 2009 when he last fought. Also Twitter UK have been helping him on his Twitter presence via their Head of Sport, Lewis Wiltshire.
Graeme Harrison , Head of Digital at Fast Track, has been quoted on the Twitter UK blog saying; “Ricky always has and always will be a boxer who is close to his fans. However, Twitter enabled Ricky to engage and build deeper connections.
“Throughout his comeback campaign, everything that we did was aimed at creating a greater interaction with his fans and redeeming Ricky in the eyes of the general public.
“#RickysCorner allowed us to take something “virtual” (a tweet) and make it physical (a poster) which Ricky would then sign and send back to his fans. This gives his fans something that money can’t buy, a set of posters that motivate Ricky and helps communicate Ricky’s key message to fans and the wider audience.”
All of this has proved fruitful as his PR machine in the background has made sure that everyone is covering his big comeback. All the major papers and news outlets have been interviewing him and covering his press conference.
I for one will be supporting him on Saturday and hope he can get back to the top again. It will be interesting to see what new ideas he and his team come up with to celebrate his win and then ramp up interest in his next fight.
If you want to follow him on any of his accounts you can find them here;