Social Media Strategy, Personal Branding, Social Media Marketing

What Rex Ryan Taught Me About Social Media

You might think he’s overrated, a blowhard, or a fatso but New York Jets coach Rex Ryan understands human psychology.

Unlike most NFL teams, the Jets do not control players’ media access. Any player is free to speak with any reporter at any time. Ryan has just one rule that governs the interactions between players and press:

“In all interviews, players must acknowledge at least two teammates, and one coach.”


Football is a group exercise, and ensuring that players are talking about other members of the team in addition to themselves drives that point home with clarity and conviction.

Do you have the same rule for your social media initiative?

As the folks at Brains on Fire advise in their terrific new book, you need to focus on the Passion Conversation, not the Product Conversation. And the passion comes from focusing on people, not on logos.

Sure, there are a ton of social media success metrics out there. We devote an entire chapter to them in The NOW Revolution. But, do you want to know the quickest way to gauge the success of a company’s social media effort? Take a look at their communication patterns on social outposts like Twitter, Facebook, and their blog. If they are talking predominately about the company, effectiveness is likely mediocre at best.

It’s Not About You

Social media gives your company a conduit for being so much more than a collection of press releases, and businesses that focus solely on the media instead of the social are simply blowing it.

So quit talking about yourself so much, and talk more about your customers, business partners, employees, and friends. Don’t just tell stories about what your products do, but rather tell the human stories of the people your products help.

Learn from Rex Ryan. The more you shine the spotlight on other people, the more they’ll shine that light back on you.

(image by Shutterstock, a Convince & Convert sponsor)

Facebook Comments


    • says

      I tell my friends to never dim their light, but if you don’t want to cast shadows you must use your light to light the torches of everyone around you – then the idea you are sharing is the vibrancy in the room and everyone wins.

  1. says

    Thanks for this post! I think this is a great policy by Rex Ryan but I wonder how you use this policy when bad things happen e.g., the tripping incident of this past weekend. To that coach’s credit, he apologized and already spoke to the media. However, “bad form” such as tripping the opposing team’s player lingers.

  2. says

    “Don’t just tell stories about what your products do, but rather tell the human stories of the people your products help.”
    A good guide to doing this is your local newspaper. Just look at the stories that interest you. It’s rarely about sewers or local tax rate levies. 99 percent of the time it’s about people and pets. It’s about the impact of a city council decision on everyday people. Our local newspaper runs a daily column highlighting interesting tidbits about people in our community. While none of the individual pieces warrant a story, collectively it’s one of the most read things in the paper, after the obituaries (also about people). We connect with others through our humanity, so the stories that connect best are about being human. It may feel like a stretch in some verticals to add a human element to it, but I guarantee you good stories that deal with people are in every business, because every business is filled with people.

    • says

      Absolutely. The big mistake a lot of newspapers are making is using wire copy from AP and Reuters instead of paying reporters. I get the economics of that, but it makes the newspaper a slow, irrelevant version of what I can get online. The smart papers (like Flagstaff Business News owned by my friend Tom) focus on something (local business) that the “main” paper cannot and will not cover. Stories about local people doing interesting business things. Presto! Instant business model.

  3. Henry Bruce says

    Love your post, but your analogy does not fit. Sexy Rexy does not practice what he preaches. unfortunately, as several incidents this season have shown.

  4. Anonymous says

    Love Ryan’s rule. I’m always glad to find parallels between sports and life (there are so freakin many). Next time work doesn’t get done because I’m caught up watching sports, I’ll point to this post and comfort myself that I’m doing research…

  5. Kris Bradley says

    I really like this, good points. No different when an NFL team tries to dominate their players than when a company does it right?

  6. says

    I often follow the recommendation from Chris Brogan. I tweet about other 12 times to the one time I tweet about myself. Rex’s rule is very smart. People don’t like to hear us brag about ourselves.

  7. Joey Strawn says

    Amazing. I don’t follow a lot of sports, but this is a great example. I’ve been researching a lot about passion lately so it’s great to see it here as well. It can really be a deciding factor in the success or failure of a company online.

    I’m looking forward to you stopping in Nashville in February. Maybe I can take you out for a coffee if you have the time.


  8. Yonica Pimentel says

    Great advice. Always looking for ways to better my social media experience. Certainly shining the light on someone else will help build not only social relationships but business as well.

  9. says


    Being a HUGE GIGANTIC, I bleed green JETS fan I naturally love this article. That aside, the message is what matters. While this is not always the case as we have seen some instances where this does not ring true, the majority of the time, we have seen Coach Ryan and the team follow this rule.

    Coach Ryan is not your typical coach. He had great success as a defensive coordinator and in his 1st season as head coach, got his team to the playoffs. After the awful showing vs the Pats on that Monday night, he buried the football (Belichick did the same in 2001) but the symbolism of it had an impact on the team. He probably wished for more as we lost our very next game however we see this in business where the are the ups and downs when departments do not communicate with each other and also do product talking and not consumer talking.

    Businesses are all trying to learn social media and how to incorporate it into their marketing plan. Many had departments separated and they brushed shoulders in the hallway in passing. Now we are seeing where the departments have to come together and work as one unit to further the marketing efforts and also position the company as a leader in their industry.

  10. says

    Love the part about being passionate about the cause, not the product. The people who have been most successful are focused on the why they do it not what they do. If you don’t have your day to day tied to a greater why, then you lose the passion – your passion is your light. Business is personal. Every time. The more personal you make it the more vulnerable you are, but in truth you will always find the connection with others who share your vision and passion. I always say “If content is king, then context is queen – be relevant AND extraordinary if you want to go viral.” Thanks Jay for more great stuff. You keep raising the bar for everyone – that’s a good thing.

    • says

      We want to do business with and be surrounded by people we know, like, and trust. Social media lets us find and connect with those people in a personal or business context. It’s about people, not logos.

  11. Susan says

    What did Rex teach you at the end of the Jets-Steelers game last Sunday when he mouth a nice expletive? Haha. Couldn’t blame him at that point.

  12. letstalkandchat says

    I just found a great company that builds websites for info products. To keep your costs low, they’ll mentor you on how to create your site, design a marketing funnel (one of the guys works in Hollywood and makes really slick videos), and the other guy programmed Myspace. If you’re looking to have professional web design for your small business and not waste any time or money then check their site out. Check them out:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *