Introducing PerkettPR’s New Interview Series – “Persuasive Women”

PerkettPR is excited to present a new series of interviews entitled “Persuasive Women” – featuring women entrepreneurs whom we admire.  These influential females will share their thoughts on how they’ve built their businesses, give insights on the hurdles they have encountered, and highlight some exciting tidbits on what they have planned next.

The first ”Persuasive Woman”  we are featuring in this series is none other than the fabulous and witty, Melanie Notkin, otherwise known as “SavvyAuntie.”  Melanie is the founder of SavvyAuntie.com, an online community for aunts (Aunties by Relation, Aunties by Choice, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and all women who love kids) and author of the best-selling book Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids.  Melanie has over 17,000 followers on Twitter and is known as one of the most powerful women in social media.  Her site is on the Forbes Top 100 Sites for Women list and Melanie’s column over at Huffington Post is both entertaining and thought provoking.

You can follow Melanie on Twitter (@savvyauntie), check out her site SavvyAuntie, or join in the fun on Facebook at Facebook.com/SavvyAuntie. We hope you enjoy this new series and please feel free to share your comments below.

You recently celebrated three years of SavvyAuntie.com.  Has it turned out to be what you expected? Is it what you envisioned many years ago?

Savvy Auntie has turned out even better than I expected. I had always envisioned Savvy Auntie to be a multiplatform media company, and with the addition of popular social media platforms, TV appearances, spokesperson gigs and a national best-selling book – that it is! But the journey I’ve been on is most wonderfully surprising. Finding potential I hadn’t realized until now has been the best reward.

A lot of us have ideas from time to time and many of us sit idle waiting to find the time to commit to the new project or idea. How did you push yourself to move forward with this concept?

I woke up one day in June 2007 and decided I was an entrepreneur. That morning I went to a class on how to write a business plan. It wasn’t the right class for me – but I was determined to do something that day to move forward. It was about momentum. I started to invest time and money in the business. And I never looked back. I knew if I did, my idea would turn into a statue of salt and I’d never move forward. You just have to keep going.

What was the biggest hurdle as you worked on growing the business?

I’m self-funded so what I earn goes back into growing the business. Bandwidth suffers from that but I felt if I took investment dollars, I’d be following someone else’s vision for my brand. That’s not why I became an entrepreneur.

Who was your biggest supporter?

Me.

If you could name one thing that truly made a difference in bringing your business to the next level, what was it?

Unconditional belief in myself and my business.

You recently published your first book which has become a best seller.  Will there be another book and if so, what can we expect?

I’m working on what that will be now! It’s very exciting. If it happens, it will be much more personal and closer to the voice I have in my Huffington Post column.

What TV or movie character are you most like?

If I had to pick one, I’d have to say Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City - but I have more faults, fewer shoes, and bigger ambitions.

If you could have dinner with one big celebrity, who would it be and why?

Jennifer Aniston. We’re the same age. No kids – and I think she handles the pressure about that extraordinarily well. I think we’d be friends… No point just having dinner if it can’t lead to Sunday brunch one day soon after.

What’s next for SavvyAuntie.com. Are there any new features to be added or new partnerships you would like our audience to know about?

Well, I just launched SMITTEN by Savvy Auntie: Deals Curated with Love by Melanie Notkin. It’s a partnership with Saveology so I can bring the Auntourage deals designed just for them and their lifestyle. https://www.saveology.com/offers/savvyauntie. There’s more to come but I can’t talk about it just yet. Needless to say, I’m thrilled and excited for what’s next.


photo credit: Ana Schechter

Persuasive Picks for the week of 04/05/10

How Can SMB Owners Learn Social Media?
Lisa Barone provides some concrete ways SMBs can begin learning the ins and outs of social media on their own without the help of one of the gazillion “social media experts” out there. (Of course, it’s all about having the time to do it!)

Making the real-time Web relevant
The future of online search includes getting information in “real-time.” This CNET post from Tom Krazit gives a great overview on the new direction in search and the struggles that search engines like Google and Microsoft Bing are working through to provide information as it happens.

7 B2B Social Media Tools you haven’t heard of
This SocialMediaB2B.com post from Adam Holden-Bache provides seven new tools that are worth checking out. I’m impressed to finally come a across a list of tools that are all new to me!

10 Tricks For Getting Inspired to Write
Have you officially launched your blog, but have found it difficult to continually come up with fresh ideas for creating content? This Copyblogger post by Jonathan Morrow provides great tips and techniques for writing inspiration.

Will It Blend? – iPad
The long-lasting popularity of BlendTec’s “Will it blend” videos continues with the demise of a shiny new Apple iPad.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 02/01/09

MC Hammer TransitionHow MC Hammer went from caricature to human being – the social media story
Jim Tobin from IgniteSocial.com shares a few simple lessons for corporate marketers citing how MC Hammer has leveraged social media to help build his business and reputation with social media marketing.

ROI (Results on Insights) of Online Communities
Beth Kanter consistently offers up excellent information on her social media blog for non-profits. This post includes several perspectives and great links to additional supporting posts around the topic of ROI and Online Communities.

8 Questions to Ask Your “Social Media Expert”
Using a product or service doesn’t instantly make you an expert. How do you differentiate between the knowledgeable folks and the snake-oil salesmen in the social media space? Dave Fleet offers up 8 questions to ask any “Social Media Experts” you might be considering doing business with. Be sure to browse the comments for additional advice and opinions.

The Importance of a Social Media Support System
Are you the sole evangelist for deploying a social media strategy in your organization? Have you given much thought to how much support you’ll get from the rest of the organization? This post from marketer Jacob Morgan provides some food for thought in that area.

B2B Social Media Marketing: Why should you start?
Kate Brodock from the Other Side Group highlights last week’s post B2B social media marketing post from MarketingProfs and expand on it in the areas of brand outreach and thought leadership.

Starry Eyed Over Social Media

The Internet has been ablaze the last few months about social media and business. Everyone is trying to figure out the value of the different sites – from the “oldies” like Facebook and LinkedIn to newbies like Twitter, Seesmic, Plurk, Brightkite, etc. The value of such communities is especially abuzz in the realms of marketing and communications. People are catching on that marketing and PR are now – more than ever – about building relationships (as opposed to spinning news). PR executives who are not engaging with constituents – media, customers, partners, colleagues, competitors – in these new communities are missing a huge competitive advantage and opportunity. But who are the right constituents?

Just like anything – it’s how you yield the sword, not the sword itself, in my humble opinion. While building a fan base, securing thousands of followers or becoming a “top friend” can be fun, when it comes to business, how do these numbers translate? Where does the value lie? Does having thousands of Twitter followers suddenly make you a “social media expert?”

The ability to use – or experience with – communities like Facebook and Twitter do not make anyone a communications expert. Sheer follower numbers do not necessarily mean value – at least not to everyone. I may have 1000+ followers but that doesn’t mean anything to my clients unless I’m gleaming value specific to their goals. And even if one of their goals is to increase their user base, not all – or even the majority – of those followers are going to be appropriate users for my client’s products.

What if the content I’m sharing on these communities is irrelevant or my approach is more personal than professional? For example, some Twitter users don’t actually converse – they just spew updates about their day. That doesn’t actually build relationships. Some don’t recognize Twitter as a business opportunity but just have fun with their followers. (The smart ones do both – personal and professional communications – for reasons discussed in previous posts). Others build corporate entities only to “spam” followers and quickly lose them. So, while having a great following on these communities is important, so is understanding how to participate appropriately and glean the right value from them – and how to combine that with other communications strategies.

A lot of folks in the industry are also abuzz about “social media experts.” We’ve had plenty of six figure-seeking applicants tell us they know everything there is to know about social media. Personally, I think there are very few who can truly call themselves experts in this arena – yet – and I’m not impressed when an applicant just runs down a list of “Twitterati” that they have on their follower list or “web celeb” Facebook friends list.

Don’t spew names. Give me an example of how these relationships have helped add business value to your organization or your client’s business. How did your relationships increase a company’s users? What strategy did you have in place for using social media to build a brand and what metrics have you used to measure that brand awareness? Just using social media does not mean you know how to tie it to the bigger picture. I find this to especially be true with the younger generation of workers. Yes, they know how to use social media and are fully immersed in it. But do they understand business strategy, marketing goals and how to leverage these communities for such? Some do, but the majority may not yet understand the intricacies of business relationships and communication.

When thinking about new media and marketing, don’t get too starry eyed just because social media is a hot topic right now. Just as anyone can put a press release across the wire, anyone can build a massive following in these communities. But if the tools aren’t used properly – and combined with other elements of the business to execute a larger strategy – they become useless from a business perspective. Sometimes they can even become harmful.

What do you think? Have you found value in hiring a social media expert? How do you define “expert?”