Melanie Notkin is a relative newcomer to the social media space but has already made an impressive name for herself as the founder and CEO of Savvy Auntie, an online community and web magazine for “Aunties by Relation (ABR), Aunties by Choice (ABC), Mommy Aunties, Great Aunts, Godmothers, and all women who love kids.” Melanie has made appearances at Mashable’s Social Media Hub: New York and NextWeb and and been featured in the New York Times, the Huffington Post and the Washington Post. Besides the Savvy Auntie community, you can connect with Melanie on Twitter and on Facebook. – AB
DM: What inspired you to start Savvy Auntie?
MN: I was a senior level beauty executive, traveling to Paris for work, meeting with the CEO often, and winning awards. I was a savvy, New York City executive. But when it came to the most valuable part of my life, my nephew and nieces, I didn’t know my Dora from my Bob the Builder. I was not a Savvy Auntie.
I felt it was time to develop the first online community for aunts so they could become Savvy Aunties. SavvyAuntie.com has become like a parenting guide for non-parents. It a modern resource for the cosmopolitan aunt.
You became a social media sensation since the launch of your website. What do you think have been your most successful social media tactics?
First of all, thank you. I appreciate the compliment and am honored. I think the first think to admit is that I didn’t really think of social media as a ‘tactic’ at all. Rather, I woke up one day with the decision to be an ‘auntrepreneur,’ and was rather desperate to gather as much information as I could. I started following tech and social media blogs in the summer of 2007, and heard about Twitter. I joined, dipped my toe in, and realized that the access I had to brilliant industry experts was invaluable. I was learning a lot. And the more I learned, the more I was able to share… and I also shared my story….of how I was launching my business…which inspired me to launch a blog about my auntrepreneurial journey. Listen, add value, repeat.
My presence in social media has always been authentic. I’ve shared the highs and the lows and everything in the between. Keeping it real, which is authentic to my brand and to my personality, is what I believe has helped me gather a wonderful group of followers.
You have worked with many PR professionals as editor of Savvy Auntie. What have been some best and worst moments?
Every moment is a thrill. I mean a year ago, I was praying I’d be on your radar. So every PR inquiry is a good thing.
Of course, when the inquiry or pitch is off topic, it’s a waste of my time.
On a few occasions, I’ve been called “Dear Mom” which is bad on a number of levels: The point of my site is for the non-mom; I’m not a mom; I wish I were a mom; time wasted.
I also have really bad visceral reaction to the word ‘blogger’ and ‘blog’ as it refers to me and to SavvyAuntie.com. Savvy Auntie is an online community. It’s not a blog. I’m Founder or Editor in Chief, not a “blogger.” Why must we ‘dumb-down’ ourselves by calling all online media “blogs?”
The other thing Savvy Auntie is not is a review blog. I don’t review anything. So don’t pitch me to review your product. Yes – I want to know about the latest gifts and trends for kids. That’s good! But I don’t know want to know about great maternity wear or home décor.
Also – I’m pretty cosmopolitan, so pitching me the opportunity to meet with a “celebrity” when the product is off topic, still won’t get me to go to the event.
Great pitches are ones that add value to my readers. Not to me.
Were you involved in social media before you started Savvy Auntie? How did you get started?
My entrée to Facebook was in May of 2007. My first tweet was in August of 2007. That summer and since, I began reading social media blogs (Mashable, Jeremiah Owyang’s blog, etc) to get up to speed. I spent a lot of time reading books like The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott. Then I read his blog and followed him on Twitter… and so on…
As a woman in business and in social media, what tips do you have for other women in an otherwise heavily-male influenced industry?
Think of it as an advantage, not a disadvantage. You stand out in a crowd. Plus, women inherently do better in social media because we are more social. Leverage your inner Socialite.
Graduation day is forthcoming for many public relations students. What is one lesson or piece of advice about public relations that Professor Notkin would like to impart?
Listen. Never stop listening. When you stop listening, you stop learning. And when you stop learning, you fail. Your education is just beginning… that’s why they call it a “commencement.”
What three blogs do you recommend to someone just getting started in social media?
Sorry –can’t stop at just three….. it was hard to stop at 7!
Mashable, Jeremiah Owyang’s Web Strategist, Chris Brogan’s blog, Going Social Now, Citizen Marketer 2.1, The Social Media Marketing Blog, and What’s Next.