5 Things Boxing Can Teach You About Social Media

Manny Pacquiao unleashes the “Manila Ice” against Cotto. Image by Glorius Gaduang via Flickr

Everyone who knows me understands that I have two passions in my life: social media and boxing. Believe it or not, these disparate interests are linked. The tactics of boxing also work in the social media world. How so? Read on.

1. Sluggers Sell Tickets

A slugger is a boxing stylist with one simple strategy: hit the opponent really hard, and knock him out. In doing so, a slugger will put up with tremendous punishment and even lose rounds if it means a chance to land his Sunday punch.

Everyone loves watching a slugger. Why? Because no matter how skilled his opponent is, a slugger always have a chance. It may be a “puncher’s chance” – but it’s still a chance. The harder a slugger slugs, the higher his chance of winning with one punch.

Lest you think sluggers are unskilled, think again. The art of punching hard takes great distillation. Some of the greatest fighters of all time were sluggers, including Rocky Graziano, George Foreman, and Arturo Gatti.

In social media, one consistent message – a Sunday punch – can win hearts and minds. If you can weather adversity to deliver this message, you can win.


George Foreman. Image by Michael Shick via Flickr
George Foreman. Image by Michael Shick via Flickr

2. There’s a Difference Between Slugging and Swarming

A lot of people mistake slugging for swarming. This confusion is understandable. Both sluggers and swarmers display a willingness to move forward, absorb punishment, so they can throw punches.

Yet their differences are staunchly different. Unlike a slugger, a swarmer isn’t looking to deliver his one Sunday punch. No, he’s looking to suffocate you by getting extremely close to you, overwhelm you with a heavy volume of punches, and altogether outmuscle and outhustle you.

Jake LaMotta was the only man to defeat a prime Sugar Ray Robinson. How did he do it? By moving forward, throwing heavy volume, and rolling with the punches. This is why he was the “Raging Bull”.

Social media swarmers constantly share content. They’re the engine that causes content to go viral. This heavy volume may be aggressive but is well appreciated if it’s consistent.

3. Speed Kills

Manny "pacman" Pacquiao. Image by Roger Alcantara via Flickr
Manny “pacman” Pacquiao. Image by Roger Alcantara via Flickr

Recently, Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios fought each other. Both fighters were swarmers, yet Pacquiao won. Why?

Because Pacquiao had more speed.

In boxing, you may have two fighters who have equivalent power. Yet if one of them has a speed advantage, the fighter with the faster hands will usually win. The reason: speed kills.

This holds true for social media. Want influence? Be quick, and be first. Speed kills.

4. Timing Beats Speed

Khan/Malignaggi. Image by Bryan Horowitz via Flickr
Khan/Malignaggi. Image by Bryan Horowitz via Flickr

So he with the fastest hands wins, right? Not so. Every fighter – even the speediest – has a rhythm. If you can figure out the rhythm, you can time your shots JUST SO to inflict maximum damage.

There’s a specific name for this phenomenon, and it’s called “countering”. A successful counter is all about deciphering the peculiarities of an opponent’s rhythm and capitalize on it.

Amir Khan has one of the fastest hands in boxing, and yet he was KOed decisively by Danny Garcia due to a well timed counter.

Certainly, you can use speed on social media to make an impression. However, timing beats speed.

5. It Just Takes One Punch

Image by Abelito Roldan via Flickr
Image by Abelito Roldan via Flickr

And yet, no matter how much skill you have there’s one thing that always holds true in boxing: it just takes one punch to end things.

You might have volume, speed, and timing. You may be a fighter of supreme skill. But all it takes is one punch – one Sunday punch – to change the outcome of a fight.

Here we leave off where we began – and why a slugger sells tickets. Mike Tyson may have been an all-time-great heavyweight, but Buster Douglas ended things with one punch. You see, Buster Douglas had a Sunday punch.

Just as it is with social media, you can apply a multiple array of strategies – but all it takes is one message to change the outcome of things.