The following is a guest post by Melanie Notkin, founder of SavvyAuntie.com and author of SAVVY AUNTIE: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids.
My life changed this week. And I owe it all to social media.
I’m at the precipice of one of the most thrilling times of my life and one of the most important days for my business and brand. My book, SAVVY AUNTIE: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids is being released on April 26th. I can honestly say that I owe everything about this book and therefore my entire company, to social media.
It all started almost four years ago on June 12, 2007, when I decided to invest my life savings in developing the first online community for aunts and godmothers, specifically the nearly 50 percent of American women who are not moms but love the children in their lives, by relation and by choice. Savvy Auntie is now an award-winning multiplatform lifestyle brand for an influential and long-neglected segment of women I’ve dubbed PANKs®: Professional Aunts No Kids.
On August 20, 2007, I discovered Twitter through a blog post by Jeremiah Owyang @jowyang . It was the perfect “Peoria” testing ground as a marketer. As I was developing SavvyAuntie.com, I was able to leverage my innate curiosity (so important to marketers!) and ask my new Twitter friends about the role they play as aunts or as moms who rely on the aunts in their kids’ lives. It really helped me build a better online destination. Over time, I met true pioneers in new media such as @ScottMonty @AaronStrout @ChrisBrogan @GaryVee @Zappos and of course @BrianSolis who taught me so much on how to connect and inspire my audience.
By the time I launched SavvyAuntie.com in July 2008, the support from the Twitter community was so strong, ‘SavvyAuntie’ was the most Tweeted word that day (yes, it was way before Beiber Fever!)
By the fall, I was working on a deal with RazorFish to launch a sponsored conversation on Twitter on behalf of Disney. That idea was so interesting it made the Wall Street Journal online! Further partnerships landed Savvy Auntie in The New York Times and Advertising Age.
Fast forward to the fall of 2009 and I was besotted by a little girl named @Leah_Albert, a 7th grader in Tanzania who is part of EpicChange.org’s #TwitterKids program, enabling children from the world’s poorest countries to connect digitally. Through that experience, I met @DebbieStier, then an editor at HarperCollins, who was also taken with these amazing kids. Debbie noticed my flourishing online community and brand following and invited me into her office to have lunch. Before I left the building, we were working on the title of my first book.
In the meantime, I started to build a Facebook following. The Savvy Auntie Facebook Page now includes over 42,000 “fans,” rivaling major media companies and household name brands, enabling me to connect and engage with Savvy Aunties consistently daily.
Social media is democratic, enabling good people and good ideas to shine. It’s enabled me to connect with tens of thousands directly, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, through their networks. I’ve received letters from women who are unable to have children telling me the Savvy Auntie has touched them profoundly, changing their perspective on what it means to be maternal, and lessening their grief. I’ve received letters from women who have chosen not to be mothers, who thank me for elevating their role and respect in their Family Village. I’ve received letters from women who like me, are ‘circumstantially infertile,’ they just haven’t met their love yet, who thank me for redefining their lives in the positive. They are not childless. They are childfull. And their love is a gift.
Recently, I received a Tweet that stopped my heart and then filled it with more love than I ever knew. It was inspired by my effort to give back to @Leah_Albert and kids like her in Tanzania for being an important link in my getting my book deal. I’m giving $1 for each book sold between now and April 27, 2011 to EpicChange.org in Leah’s honor. The attention Leah has been receiving makes her feel like “mr obama!” she Tweeted. And then there was this Tweet from Leah that changed everything: @savvyauntie i like you more than you like me.i have a favour to ask you can call you mum .coz you are like a mother to me.
And that’s how social media changed my life. Being the best Auntie I could be has in effect finally made me a mother.
And I owe it all to social media.
Melanie Notkin is the founder of SavvyAuntie.com and author, SAVVY AUNTIE: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids (Morrow/HarperCollins). Melanie invites you to join the Savvy Auntourage at Facebook.com/SavvyAuntie or find her on Twitter @SavvyAuntie.