Saturday 17 March 2018

'I used to be a functioning alcoholic and I couldn't do without it'- Samantha Kelly, the Tweeting Goddess

Samantha Kelly (43) is a social media strategist known as the 'Tweeting Goddess'. Born in Dublin, she now lives in Rosslare Harbour, Co Wexford, with her partner, Andy, and her daughters - Leah (16) and nine-year-old Abi

The Tweeting Goddess: Samantha Kelly. Photo: Patrick Browne.
The Tweeting Goddess: Samantha Kelly. Photo: Patrick Browne.

Ciara Dwyer

My 16-year-old daughter Leah usually wakes me at 7.30am.

She likes to get up early and get herself ready. Her bus for school is at 8am, so I bring her to the bus stop. I'm usually half-asleep and, I'm going to be honest here, sometimes I'm so tired that I just jump into the car in my dressing gown. I fly up the road, drop her off and then I come back. My partner, Andy, is at home. He's a taxi driver and  he works nights. Then I wake my daughter Abi. I get her dressed, and then I dress myself. I make her French toast and then I get her lunch ready, too. I usually have a boiled egg and toast. I'm guilty of leaving myself to last.

When Abi has gone to school, I open the laptop and have a cup of tea and a cigarette - which is probably my worst bad point. I might bring the dogs for a walk, but it depends on the weather and how I am feeling. If I've a lot on, I'll get straight into work, and then I might bring them out at lunchtime instead. They sit beside me in the office, which is in the kitchen. It's just a table.

I'll check my tweets and check my clients' tweets. I run Twitter accounts for companies who don't have the time, or don't want to do it. I put out good content for them and drive people to their website. I've been doing it for two years. It all started when some companies approached me, saying that they didn't do this Twitter thing and asked if I would I do it for them.

My first client was a hotel. Their clicks-to-sale went up 15pc and they went from 600 Twitter followers to 4,000. Once you have your first client, word spreads. I realised that I had a talent for connecting and engaging companies that normally wouldn't get that engagement.

I'm at my desk from 9am until 3pm, when it's time for the school run again. I also do Twitter workshops and consultations for companies, advising them on their social media strategy. Twitter is not about selling. The important thing is to build relationships with clients online and then take them offline - so meet them for a coffee. It's all about people making the connection. When I started on Twitter, I hadn't a clue about it, but I ended up writing a book about it - Tweet Your Way To Success. Now I have 30,000 followers. My Twitter name is Tweeting Goddess. It's a brand thing; before that I was known for a business I set up - Funky Goddess - which was a first menstrual period gift box. I ended up on the Dragon's Den with it. I eventually sold the business, but kept the goddess part of the name. I also run a small-business support network on Twitter every Wednesday night, called Irish Biz Party.

A lot of small-business owners start their business after a tragedy or a life-changing event. It was the same for me. In 2011, my life was falling apart. My second marriage - with Abi's father - was breaking up. My dad had just passed away. I was very close to him, so I was devastated. I was hitting 40 and I was caring full-time for my daughter Abi because she has a hearing impairment. She was about to start school, and I knew I had to do something to occupy myself. I had worked in sales before.

One day I had to buy a set for a young girl who had started her period. There were no starter sets and, standing there in the supermarket, I got the idea for Funky Goddess - which included things like a hot-water bottle and an eye-mask, as well as pads. My sister put me on Twitter for it and I ended up with a lot of followers. I had the business for two years, but in the end I had to shelve it and get a job. I wasn't making any money. There was no coal; I was huddled around the fire with the girls, and I decided I couldn't do this anymore. My drive was still there, but I had to think of others. Also, I was on a programme.

I used to be a functioning alcoholic. I was responsible all week, but Friday night was my drinking night. Then I realised that I couldn't do without it. Drink gave me confidence, and made me feel part of something. My lowest point was a hangover one Saturday morning. It was a sunny day, but I couldn't face bringing my daughters down to the beach. I was sick of being sick. AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] changed my whole life. I'm in recovery almost eight years. I take things a day at a time. Now I look at things differently and react to things differently. It's only because I'm in recovery that I'm doing this work as a social media strategist. I didn't think I had anything to offer society, and now I'm a useful member, and I feel part of the business world, too. Recently, myself and Tom Williams from Platinum Events organised The Social Media Summit in the Aviva Stadium, which was very successful. I believe that none of this would have been possible for me without the fellowship of AA. I go to about three meetings a week.

In the evenings, after the girls have done their homework, we eat. I'm the worst cook in the world, but Andy likes to make the dinner. He's so kind and a great support. I couldn't do any of my work without him. He doesn't have any children and he took on me, as well as my daughters and the three dogs. In the evening, I might just crash and watch telly, but then, from 9pm until 11pm, I go back online. That's the busy time for Twitter. I put out tweets for my clients and take part in hashtag chats. My virtual assistant, Sheila, is a great help too.

If Andy is working nights, I might wait up for him. He often comes home at 1am. Even though he doesn't really understand what I do, he is really proud of me and I'm proud of him. He won't let me bring the phone to bed. If it's quiet, and the kids are not around, I might get some lovin'. We like to snuggle up and talk. I'm really lucky that I have someone that I can love. I'm not religious, but every night I thank God for getting me through the day and keeping me sober. I say the serenity prayer.

In conversation with Ciara Dwyer

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