ENTREPRENEUR, business- woman and social media specialist, Samantha Kelly has had her share of life challenges — but she’s making the most of her new-found success and is determined to help other women along the way.
Now recognised internationally as a leading social media strategist, speaker and trainer, Samantha is the founder of the TweetingGoddess.com, the Social Media Summit Ireland and the Women’s Inspire Network — a support network connecting female led businesses, with almost 10,000 online Twitter followers. To top that off, more than 37,500 people follow Samantha’s @Tweetinggoddess Twitter handle and she has been named as an international social media influencer on more than 10 global lists.
In April, Samantha is bringing the annual Women’s Inspire Network conference to the Cork International Airport Hotel, where up to 250 female entrepreneurs and business women will network, attend workshops, share their stories and hear from some of Ireland’s leading business women. The event takes place on April 5, just 10 days before she holds the high profile two-day Social Media Summit Ireland conference in Croke Parke, Dublin.
However, life wasn’t always so successful or seemingly easy for the Tweeting Goddess, who is now widely known by her Twitter handle name.
Samantha, who has two daughters — 17-year-old Leah who has type one diabetes and 10-year-old Abi who is hearing impaired and has a severe language delay — admits that just a few years ago, she was “a lone parent on social welfare who was a functioning alcoholic,” until Alcoholics Anonymous and later Twitter changed her life.
She has been sober for nine years now with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous but says she reached another crossroads in her life a few years ago in 2012, before she turned 40.
“I was kind of stuck and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my myself and my dad had just passed away. Then I had a lightbulb moment. I was standing in a supermarket aisle and I needed to get a first period gift box for girls, like some kind of beginners set for when girls reach that awkward milestone, and I couldn’t find one anywhere. So I just thought, maybe I’ll create one myself. I started Funky Goddess as a first period gift box business. My sister helped me build a website and I went on Dragon’s Den and got investment from one of the dragons which never came through due to due diligence. But I started using Twitter to market Funky Goddess and I found that I could reach a global audience.
“It was just me at night time in my pyjamas after the kids had gone to bed, making connections with people online between 9pm and 11pm and building relationships. I didn’t realise I was building relationships at the time, I just thought I was talking to people but I started getting really good on Twitter and I started to see the Twitter magic happening.
“The orders started coming in but in the end I sold Funky Goddess because, as a lone parent with a bad bank record, I couldn’t get investment to make the business profitable.
“In between times, people kept approaching me and asking me how I got so many followers on Twitter and would I help them with their social media, so I thought maybe there was a business there. So I went off and did a ‘train the trainer’ course and changed the business to Tweeting Goddess in 2014 and I now teach people how to use Twitter effectively for their businesses. I also do social media consultancy and strategy for companies and businesses and I manage Twitter accounts for people who don’t have time for social media. It’s all about harnessing the power of social media and spreading the Twitter magic,” she said.
Samantha, who still works mostly from home, says she is passionate about using her skills to help start-ups and other female entrepreneurs. She believes that women in business should support each other as best they can. That’s why organisations like the Women’s Inspire Network are so important, she says.
“All businesses need support, especially start-ups, and networking is very important. I still tweet from my kitchen table, I don’t have a big fancy office. I tweet from the bus and the train, wherever I am. I make a lot of connections through hashtag chat groups on Twitter, like the Women’s Inspire hashtag on Tuesday nights from 10pm to 11pm. It’s networking in your PJs. You don’t have to dress up, you don’t have to go anywhere. You can just sit there at home and meet new people.
“I also try to support start-ups whatever way I can. It could be something as simple as giving them a retweet to 36,000 people or introducing them to the right person who you think might use their services. That could just be the introduction they needed.
“I think that if we all support each other, we can all succeed. Even with potential competitors, I think that if we work together and collaborate, great things can be done. There’s no need to climb over others to succeed. There’s plenty of business for everybody,” she said.
The Women’s Inspire Network event in April will give attendees the opportunity to hear real life stories from female entrepreneurs who have achieved business success.
Samantha says that anyone who has started or is thinking about starting a business should attend for inspiration.
“There are people out there who might be thinking of starting a business and are just not sure about making that step, which is a courageous step and it’s not an easy decision to make. The Women’s Inspire Network conference is all about telling your story and the speakers will all be female entrepreneurs who have built businesses or are in the process of building a business. The event is about the story behind the business.
“We’ll have Fiona Gratzer, CEO of Unislim and Mary McKenna, owner of Tour America speaking. She (Mary MCKenna) started out at her kitchen table and has a huge company now, so there’ll be some real business success stories to hear from people who started small and have gone on to build empires.
“We’ll also have Cork woman, Dee O’Leary of IDME Wristbands. She has a great story to tell about the story behind her business and how she got to where she is now.
“Some of the network members will also be telling their stories and there’ll be a number of different workshops on the day to take part in and learn from. There’ll be workshops on Twitter and social media, email marketing, financing your business, how to remove money blocks; and legal issues.
“Douglas Law is sponsoring the event and giving a half hour workshop on legal issues. The network is all about adding value to your business.
“Ruth Scott of 2FM is the MC and Bibi Baskin will be there talking about her career and journey into business and we’ll also have Susan Hayes of the Positive Economist giving the Savvy Women’s Guide to Financial Freedom from her book of the same name.
“There’s so much positivity in the network and our whole objective is to help each other succeed. I think that if we all support each other and help each other, the world would be a much better place.”
The Women’s Inspire Network conference takes place on April 5 in Cork International Hotel. See www.womensinspirenetwork.com