How Amber MacArthur became a successful new media entrepreneur by Power Friending
Entrepreneurs often say they’re too busy working on their business to spend time on social media. For Amber MacArthur, social media is her business. The new media entrepreneur and technology journalist was using tools like online video, podcasting, and Twitter to build her business long before social media marketing entered the mainstream. Whether working on her social media company MGImedia, hosting a show on TWIT.tv with tech guru Leo Laporte, producing her technology-focused TV show Webnation, or interacting with her 50,000+ Twitter followers much of Amber’s day is spent either using new social media tools or reporting on them.
Becoming an entrepreneur was an obvious career path for Amber since she comes from a family of entrepreneurs. “My parents are entrepreneurs, so starting at a very young age I worked in the family business,” she says. “When I say young, I mean young. Whether it was stuffing envelopes or filing papers, by the time I was a teenager I knew that I wouldn’t want or have a 9-to-5 job.” When she started her own business, she decided to keep it in the family, launching it with her brother Jeff. That business, MGImedia, is a production and new media company with powerhouse clients including Microsoft and the Discovery Channel. While building the business Amber found that her biggest challenge was giving up control – with outside projects to focus on, she had to rely on the team to build the business. “The biggest challenge we’ve had building MGImedia is knowing when we need to step out of our own way,” she says. “What I mean by that is that as entrepreneurs we always want to do everything ourselves, but we’ve have to hire a team to make sure that we focus on growing the business too.”
At MGImedia Amber and her team focus on using new media tools like online video to help clients grow their presences online. Building an online following is something Amber can identify with – her network has been steadily growing for years, thanks in no small part to the diverse array of projects she has on the go at any given time. She writes a regular column for publications including The Globe and Mail, produces weekly podcasts and TV shows, and spends a lot of time speaking at conferences and events, around 40 every year. She says podcasting has really helped MGImedia build out their video business. “Our tech show commandN.tv helps to showcase our production skills, but also demonstrates that we understand the web space,” she says. And she also understands the importance of building a personal brand, something she’s done largely through her @ambermac Twitter account. “On the personal branding side I’ve used Twitter to engage online and Facebook too.” Last year Amber turned her experiences using social media for business into a bestselling book, Power Friending, which demystifies social media for small businesses. As a former daily technology journalist and frequent contributor to online publications, she says social media has made her job easier. “As a journalist, Twitter has made my job easier. The online community is wealth of information. Also, when looking for sources and when wanting to share something I’ve written, I can always depend on tweeters to help out.”
She personifies the entrepreneurial idea of wearing many hats, something that necessitates excellent time management skills. When it comes to fitting everything in, Amber says it’s all about working when she’s most efficient. “I work when I work best. Sometimes that means that I might spend two hours at the gym in the middle of the day and work late into the night. Sometimes that means that I’ll do some writing on a flight.” But no matter what she has on her agenda, there’s something that trumps her entrepreneurial endeavors: family. “When I’m with my two-year-old son, there is no call or email important enough to interrupt that time.”
Her plate might be full, but that doesn’t mean she’s slowing down. Next up is a dramatic web series produced by the team at MGImedia, and an app based on her book content. And within the next month she’ll start co-hosting a new TV show about mobile technology, a trend she follows closely. And on the side she’s taking the time to learn from other successful business leaders – right now she’s reading the book Driven by Robert Herjavec, and says it reaffirms how she’s always felt about business. “If you do what you love, it does not feel like work.”