Why it Pays to be a Renegade: An Interview with Social Media Guru Amy Jo Martin
By Maria Russo
Amy Jo Martin has always been a renegade. In fact, one piece of advice she often gives to people is to “color outside the lines.” And outside the lines is exactly where Martin is most comfortable.
While working for the Phoenix Suns, her boss told her it was impossible to have a successful family life, personal life and career life, and in order for things to work, she had to pick two of the three. That was just the sort of fuel Martin needed to prove that she could, in fact, have it all — a career, a family and time for herself — without neglecting any important aspect of her life.
Martin knew she could continue her work without having to give anything up, so she left the Suns and moved on to start Digital Royalty, a firm that develops digital integration and social media strategies for corporate and entertainment brands, professional athletes, sports teams and leagues. In addition, her company provides customized social media education programs through Digital Royalty University, which offers a comprehensive curriculum blending strategic and tactical training.
Through her work, Martin built a large following of 1.2 million (and counting) on Twitter where she tweets about anything from the latest happenings at her company to newsworthy events that could use a little extra justified attention. She continues to share her knowledge with the world through specialized lectures and talks where she addresses the latest trends in social media; how to monetize various social platforms through; and how to successfully build a personal brand by utilizing social media.
Martin’s latest accomplishment lies in her new book, Renegades Write the Rules, a groundbreaking social media “tutorial” that conveys “how to use the latest communication channels to turn branding and marketing on their heads.” We caught up with Martin to hear more about her approach to utilizing social media and why she believes her book will help people navigate these platforms to build, and perhaps redefine, their personal and professional brands.
Culture-ist: Social media continues to evolve at a rapid pace, what has been the most challenging aspect of building your clients’ personal brands over the past couple of years?
Martin: Doing things differently makes people uncomfortable, for various reasons. Some people are afraid of change, being vulnerable, and the unknown. They grow accustomed to the way things have always been done and are hesitant to explore new ideas. I call these things “innovation allergies”. Luckily, my clients have been willing to experiment and color outside the lines, without crossing the line. They understood early on that when trying a new approach, adversity and healthy tension will always follow. The key is to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Culture-ist: Statistics show that social media is dominated by women. Do you see these platforms as a potential way for women to leverage their influence in business, politics and media?
Martin: Yes. However, social media is equal opportunity space, for men and women alike. Within the world of social media, there are no geographic boundaries or gatekeepers. People and businesses have direct access to one another. For example, I have more Twitter followers than Mitt Romney. In no other medium would a girl from Wyoming like me be able to reach as many people as a presidential candidate on Twitter. Social media is an ultimate equalizer, and value always rises to the top.
Culture-ist: In your soon to be released book, Renegades Write the Rules, you talk about being told by your boss at the Suns, “Work, family, self. Pick two, you can’t have all three.” How did that statement inspire you to start Digital Royalty? Martin: I’m a renegade by nature and I’ve never wanted to conform to society’s rules. To me, that statement was a challenge; and I love a good challenge. Through the experience, I found that you can have it all, you have just to define what your all is.
Culture-ist: What has been the most challenging moment you faced while building your business? Martin: Learning that what you say “˜no’ to is just as important as what you say “˜yes’ to. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. It’s important to surround yourself with people who believe what you believe.
Culture-ist: The greatest lesson you have learned… Martin: I discovered what I call “Royal Bliss”, or where your purpose, passion, and skills collide — happiness resides.
Culture-ist: What do you hope people will take away from reading Renegades Write the Rules? Martin: Social media can be used as a force for good in the world. This became crystal clear to me the night of the Japan earthquake. While up late on the elliptical, I witnessed live footage on CNN showing semi trucks getting washed away and people trying to outrun the waves in their vehicles. I wasn’t sure what to do but I felt accountable and compelled to help in some way given my reach and influence with 1.2 million followers. I sifted through relevant tweets and links. Conveniently, the most valuable people, stories, and media outlets found their way to the social surface fairly easily. However, these valuable pieces of info didn’t always have the largest distribution. Not knowing what to do, I started retweeting, asking people to send me valuable content so I could share to a larger audience and connect the dots. We were all in the business of humanity and we are only bound by the speed of technology.
In my book, I share many case studies and personal stories. I believe if we can share our stories and lessons we can allow others to leapfrog our mistakes and snag our lessons free of charge. By doing this, we can accelerate the process of learning and the process of innovation.
Culture-ist:What do you see as the “next big thing” in social media? Martin:Fatigue, consolidation, and the continuing struggle to remain relevant. There are simply too many options out there. People are busy, so social media platforms must continue to find interesting ways to engage users. With so many choices to choose from, simplicity and value reigns.
About Amy Jo Martin:
Amy Jo founded Digital Royalty three years ago to help companies, celebrities, professional sports leagues, teams and athletes build, measure and monetize their digital universe. Digital Royalty’s clients include: Shaquille O’Neal, FOX Sports, SELF, Chicago White Sox, UFC, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Los Angeles Kings, Jabbawockeez, Doubletree by Hilton, Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos.com and author of the The New York Times #1 Bestseller, Delivering Happiness, Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Martin is a regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review and Sports Business Journal, and in October 2012 she published her first book, Renegades Write the Rules. She and Digital Royalty have been featured in top-tier media outlets including Vanity Fair, TIME, Forbes, The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN SportsCenter, USA Today, MSNBC and Newsweek. Follow her on Twitter @AmyJoMartin.
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