By Ashley Mayo
Winning the Masters propelled Bubba Watson into the spotlight. Fans all over the world fell in love with his shot-making ability and, of course, with his pink Ping driver. But Watson has managed to maintain that level of celebrity, in large part due to the way he uses Twitter. On the night he won the Masters, he replied to everyone who congratulated him, most with a simple "thanks" or "thank u."
"Bubba tries to respond to as many people as possible, even if it's with a 'yes' or 'no,'" says Amy Jo Martin (shown, left), who helped Watson hone his Twitter skills back in 2009. "I introduced him to his first social media endorsement deal. Twitter was still new at the time and Bubba only had 10,000 followers, but Discount Tires saw value in him because of his ability to engage and his willingness to try new things. His personal commitment to social is still very obvious, and he continues to build a day-after-day connections with fans."
Amy Jo Martin knows sports, and she knows social media. In 2008, as the director of digital media and research for the Phoenix Suns, Martin began to realize the power of social platforms. That's when she helped Shaquille O'Neal step up his Twitter game, and eventually guided him as he announced his retirement via the network, the first star athlete to do so. More recently, Martin wrote the New York Times Best-Seller, "Renegades Write The Rules: How The Digital Royalty Use Social Media To Innovate."
Martin knows that even people who actively use social platforms can do so more effectively. Here, her tips for consuming social media:
- If value isn't noticed right away, you're following the wrong people. "Don't be afraid to unfollow," says Martin. "If you have feeds of people talking about things you're not interested in, none of these social platforms will become valuable." A great way to find interesting people: Identify those you value the most, then see who they follow.
- "A lot of people don't know they can organize content and make it more consumable," says Martin. "In the real world you wouldn't have a conversation in five minutes about 10 different aspects of your life, and you don't want to hear from everybody in your life at the same time." Martin's advice? On Twitter, create lists to organize this sea of sameness into specific discussion. Lists like "professional golfers" and "golf media" and "colleagues" will compartmentalize conversations and make them more digestible. (Here, for example, is our Twitter list of Golf Digest editors.) You can do the same within Facebook, making it easier to see updates from "close friends," "college cronies," etc.
- "Golf brands and golf companies are giving tips all the time," says Martin. "Everybody's goal is to deliver value, if they're doing it for the right reasons, so you have to identify those entities." If you don't, you'll miss that information about the golf course you always wanted to go to, or a good deal for those polos you've wanted for a while.
- "There are lots of golfers who are able to provide a mix of value and not just make it about golf," says Martin. "John Daly is entertaining, for example, and Paula Creamer is a great example of someone who offers insight into her life off the course. By following these kinds of golfers on various platforms, you'll see through this window into their lives that was never there before."
- Beyond Facebook and Twitter, Martin also loves Vine, Instagram and Pinterest. "Vine lets you create six-second video clips, and is very compliant with twitter, which makes all the difference in the world for the user," says Martin. "Instagram has become one of my favorite platforms because of its simplicity. Imagery that comes from the pros, golf resorts or even golf fans can become a valuable second screen. And Pinterest, as much as it's gotten a rap as being female focused, is starting to change. More men are relying on it. Being able to do things from your phone and being able to avoid complexity is key, and these three platforms get that."
Martin has more than one million Twitter followers and more than 11,000 Instagram followers. In 2011 she founded The Digital Royalty, which provides classes for those who want to sharpen their social media skills.
(Photo by Jill Richards)