Forget Bill Belichick or Tony La Russa, the real coaching icon in 2011 is a former high school cheerleader.
Unless you're a real tech geek, chances are pretty good you've never heard the name Amy Jo Martin. The 32-year-old Wyoming native has become the most powerful "coach" for sports stars in social media.
A former PR assistant with the Phoenix Suns, Martin began her career working online promotions for the NBA team. Without permission, she started calling herself the Suns' Director of Digital Media. In that role she built a huge following on Twitter and convinced 25 Suns co-workers to sign up for the microblogging site.
Martin is best known for helping then-Suns center Shaquille O'Neal become arguably the most influential person in sports on social media. The retired future Hall of Fame basketball player has 4,471,667 followers on his @Shaq Twitter page. Thats more than anyone else in sports, not the NBA, NFL or MLB can claim to have more followers, according to wefollow.com.
Shaq was convinced by Martin to join Twitter after someone had created a bogus account under his name and sparked an angry column by someone who thought it was really him. O'Neal is believed to be just the third national celebrity to join Twitter, following Barack Obama and Lance Armstrong.
Martin used Shaq to test out all kinds of hijinks, including Random Acts of Shaqness, which had Shaq using Twitter for the better good. The former Arizona State student also got O'Neal to a play the game "you're twit," where he announced via tweet that any fans who touched him at an Arizona mall would get free tickets. Martin is the queen of shenanigans, talking Shaq into becoming a living statue at Boston's legendary Harvard Square during a more recent escapade.
After her success with Shaquille O'Neal, Martin left the Suns and started her own company coaching clients on how to use social media.
You could call her the Twitter coach to the sports stars, and the list includes some big names.
Martin's startup is doing so well, she's moving her 15 employees from Phoenix to Hollywood in order to be closer to entertainment bigwigs. Businessweek reports most of her employees are pretty young women.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship thinks so much of Martin's business they send their fighters to five days of social media schooling each year with her business. The UFC also gives out a bonus of $240,000 for athletes who tweet the best.
Martin convinced UFC boss Dana White to tweet his cellphone number out to fans who wanted to talk about an upcoming fight. Bubba Watson put up a video of himself hitting a golf ball inside his house, over his pool, and then into a bucket before jumping over a pool in an effort to convince Ellen DeGeneres to put him on her show:
Businessweek reports Digital Royalty bills in the mid-seven figures annually, not bad for a two-year-old company.