The 'Tweeting Goddess' is an online marvel
Rosslare Harbour resident Samantha Kelly has gone in just a couple of years from barely knowing anything about social media - or computers in general - to being known as the 'Tweeting Goddess'.
That's the name of the thriving online business she runs from her home, driving the Twitter feeds of a number of large companies from across the country, and encouraging others who are not already using Twitter to begin doing so.
She is also the driving force behind the general #irishbizparty discussion that takes place on the online forum every Wednesday night; a #wexfordhour every Tuesday from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.; regular meetings of the 'Women's Inspire Network' in Wexford, where women with start-up companies and other businesses come together to talk and learn from each other's experiences; and on top of all that, she's also been known to organise a conference or two.
A Dublin native who settled in south County Wexford some ten years ago, Samantha says the roots of her tweeting prowess came from attempts to promote her first business venture - which was a somewhat unusual one.
Entitled the 'Funky Goddess' pack, it was a gift box designed to be given to young girls around the time of their first period, to help them cope with the changes that time brings and also to make them feel special. She even appeared on 'Dragon's Den' to pitch the product, and while some investment was pledged there, it later fell through - leaving Samantha to try further develop and promote the pack herself.
She turned to some business leaders in Wexford, including Fred Karlsson (founder of DoneDeal) and Patrick McCormack (MD of Sam McCauley Health & Beauty) and says they were a great source of help and advice - and then she turned to Twitter too.
'I really hadn't a clue about it back then,' she admits. 'I barely even had a Facebook page either - I wasn't techie at all. But I started using it to get word out and to build business relationships. Also, Twitter was really my main social life at the time too as I wasn't going out and after the girls were in bed (she's a mother of two), I'd go online and talk to people about all sorts of other topics as well.'
Samantha was surprised at how rapidly her @tweetinggoddess account became hugely popular. 'It got up to 6,000 followers very quickly, and people started asking how it was working so well,' she recalls. 'I didn't really know what to tell them at the time - it just came naturally to me!'
The regular #irishbizparty discussions grew out of that, and in turn, the Tweeting Goddess business was born. From small beginnings, it has since grown to enjoy the confidence of such clients as the online parenting resource www.mummypages.ie; the satellite television channel, Irish TV; Independent Colleges in Dublin; the Green Isle Hotel at Newlands Cross in Dublin; the eircom Spider awards (the annual national award scheme for online excellence), and Big Red Cloud, providers of cloud-based accounting software for businesses.
Samantha counts Big Red Cloud as perhaps her greatest success story, not least because she helped them win a Twitter-based competition to have the Leinster rugby team wear a guest sponsor's logo for a televised match last year. 'That got them great exposure and they were delighted with how it turned out for them,' she says.
As is often the case, the growing list of satisfied customers became somewhat organic, as one told another who recommended a third, and so on, helping Tweeting Goddess become a real 'go to' point of call for all sorts of enterprises looking to enhance their online presence.
'People recommend me all the time,' says Samantha. 'In many ways, they do my marketing for me! But it shows again just how important it is to build and maintain those relationships in business. For example, there are a lot of young upcoming entrepreneurs in Wexford, and for them, it's a matter of getting out there and getting into networks and relationships, because a lot of business success is still to do with who you know.
'It's not always necessarily the case - for example, when I started myself, I knew nobody! But I worked hard at it and built up those relationships over time and that's what's still standing to me now.'
Along the way, she wrote a book: 'Tweet Your Way to Success' ('available in the Wexford Book Centre and all good bookshops!' she quips).
'And that was it - things really took off then,' she says.
'People think that when you write a book on something, you really must be an expert on it! But it did get me noticed more and some more work came out of it, so it helped everything get to where it's going so well.'
It's all going so well, in fact, that Samantha has to date engaged four other people to help with the tweeting business. All also work from home - two based elsewhere in County Wexford, and two in Dublin.
Samantha is all the time eager to spread the gospel of social media even further. She's organising a one-day Twitter workshop in the South East Learning Centre in Wexford later in March, while she's also behind plans for a major conference in Dublin later in the year, and is currently investigating the possibility of offering Twitter courses online.
She says though that just as important for business - new and old - is meeting others in person and developing relationships that way. That's the ethos behind the Women's Inspire Network that she founded, and she adds that men are welcome to talk to her too!
'I got some great help and advice from some great people as I started out,' she says.
'I'm glad to give help and advice too, and particularly about Twitter - I don't believe how many Wexford businesses are still not using it. It's a great tool that has endless potential and everybody should be harnessing it. It's more powerful than some seem to realise.'
Samantha Kelly has lately been developing another media profile, away from 'Tweeting Goddess'. She is the host of the 'Wexford County Matters' programme on satellite television channel Irish TV, which can be found at 191 on your Sky box or at Freesat 400.
It's a thirty-minute magazine programme that goes out at 6.30 p.m. each Sunday, and so new is it to Samantha, that she's still less than two months in the job. Having said that, she's already enjoying it immensely.
'I love it!' she declares. 'I love getting out there and meeting people and finding the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. We've done bits already on the arts, culture, history, sport, fundraising, and what village and community projects can achieve and so on, and I think it's a great facility for Wexford to have such access to a television programme all about the county.'
The chance to become a local television star fell to Samantha through work she was already doing as a volunteer presenter with an internet charity radio channel, www.charityradio.ie
'I always wanted to be a DJ,' she laughs. 'Anyway, I got involved with charityradio.ie and I used to do what I called 'The Goddess Hour' with stuff like Abba and The Nolan Sisters - all cheesy 70s stuff, but stuff I really love myself. And you can see that I like to keep that 'Goddess' label with me no matter what I do!
'Anyway, one evening, Mairéad O'Reilly - who founded Irish TV with her husband Pierce - was listening. I think they were looking for presenters from a few different counties at the time, and she thought she'd get in touch with me about doing the Wexford programme, because I was always trying to promote Wexford anyway on the radio programme I was doing.
'She asked if I might be interested, and I said 'yes please' - I didn't need to be asked twice - I love being on camera and the centre of attention!' she adds.
Samantha is joined by cameraman John Michael Murphy in the traipse around the county to cover relevant in interesting stories, and people can get in touch at any time with suggestions: just mail email@example.com
Lives in Rosslare Harbour.
Mother of two: Leah (15) and Abi (8)
'The Tweeting Goddess'
Has 18,900 followers - has sent over 157,000 tweets
Winner of Bank of Ireland Start-Up Hero Award 2014
Winner of Tweety Inspire Award 2013