Lani Voivod was working at Mattel’s online division and loving her job in 2001, when she got pregnant.
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Working as the content strategist for barbie.com in Los Angeles at a time when brands were just figuring out how to integrate web marketing and sales with their bricks-and-mortar, “I had this awesome opportunity to watch barbie.com ... expand exponentially,” Voivod said. “It was literally the best job - I loved it. I loved the people, it was inspiring, every day was an adventure.”
But after she had her baby in 2002, she found herself crying on her way home every day because she missed her child so much.
“Once you become a mother, the whole game changes and you see things differently. I couldn’t imagine living somewhere where, 40 to 60 hours a week, someone else is raising my child,” she said.
So, Lani and her family moved back to her home state of New Hampshire, and, in January 2004, she started online content development company, Epiphanies, Inc., out of her home with her husband. Today, Epiphanies serves clients on both coasts. The couple’s signature "A-Ha!" New Hampshire Social Media Business Summit, brought nearly 200 professionals together for presentations from 10 speakers last year. And, with two kids now at home, Lani says her social media career allows her to put her content and marketing skills to use while still being able to see her kids off to school.
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The Innate Ability to Connect
A multitude of women say they are finding that the skills honed in careers prior to having children - particularly if they have marketing, content, or communications backgrounds - are coming in handy when looking for ways to continue earning a paycheck while staying home with their children. They say they see the social media wave as an opportunity to not just hop on and ride, but to lead.
“I’ve always been really into technology and marketing, and when social media really came on the scene, I just knew from everything I was reading that this really was the wave of the future and I wanted to be a part of this,” said Cindy Earl, mother of two children, ages 10 and seven.
Earl, who is based in Cleveland, Ohio, left her job as a college marketing director in 2001 after giving birth to her daughter. Since then, she has become a marketing and social media coach and consultant. She said her company, GetKnownGetClients.com, is dedicated to teaching women entrepreneurs how to use authentic relationship marketing and online strategies to get known, get more clients and make more money in their business.
“Women are naturally relationship builders so that translates really well into the social media space,” Earl said. “Moms in particular are very good at multi-tasking so there’s a lot of detail-oriented work that’s involved in social media. Mostly, I think it’s the relationship part. It’s the next evolution of networking and women are natural networkers.”
She’s not alone in her thinking.
“At the root of it, it’s a passion for communicating,” Voivod added as to why social media is so attractive to women. “What we women are so good at - we are communicators, connectors and community builders. ...That’s what we are anyway, so we see these types of tools and we say ‘Oh yeah, this is so awesome.’”
The social media business also provides a great outlet for moms who want to continue to work - but under their own terms – keep their skills sharp in an industry that is literally changing by the day, and stay connected to civilization as they deal with diapers and naptime, temper tantrums and potty training, parent-teacher conferences and serious sleep deprivation.
“As a brand new mom, it’s very isolating,” said social media consultant Kathryn Rose, founder of Kathryn Rose Consulting and mother of a 4-year-old. She is expecting her second child in March. The social media business “gave me the ability to connect with these people all over the world,” Rose said.
Rose was laid off from her job as a Wall Street sales executive in 2007 as the mortgage meltdown hit and she was in her eighth month of pregnancy. She then launched her own business, specializing in search engine optimization, and said she soon realized, like Voivod, that few brands really knew how to fully utilize new social media platforms.
Her 4-year-old can set up a Facebook page, said Rose, “but it’s that marketing brain - how to talk to people, how to get them to engage with you,” that is a vital asset. “That’s not something someone right out of college can get.”
Plus, she said, it’s the female voice, in particular, that helps foster relationships - and what many brands are seeking out as they try to tap into the women and mom markets.
“Often times, women are natural connectors anyway - we sort of get that whole relationship thing,” Rose said. “It’s what social marketing is built on. It’s not like ‘Hey, buy my stuff.’ It’s ‘Hey, how are you today’ ... it’s a little bit of a different feel.”
If Moms Can Sell Vegetable Consumption to Kids...
Not only are moms in the U.S. flocking to social media as a profession, women across the globe are turning into WWW gurus in order to run their own business and spend more time with their families.
Zoe deLuca is a social media marketing specialist, speaker, trainer and mentor in Queensland, Australia. She started her own home-based health and wellness business in 2003 after leaving her job as an environmental consultant to spend more time being a mother to her five children. She said after learning how to effectively use social media to promote her business in 2008, she began getting calls from other companies on how they could do the same. She created a social media training program and community Web site, SocialMediaShortCut. Today, deLuca operates multiple businesses from her laptop while traveling the world.
“Being able to think strategically while training others to understand often complex concepts proved to be the perfect combination of skills for a social media specialist,” deLuca said. “Both [previous and current] careers required me to adapt to constantly changing technology and apply a scientific analysis to the training I was developing.”
Whereas that holy grail of “work-life balance” is out of reach for so many moms who have to answer to an employer or commute into work every day, many who have succeeded in parlaying their communication and networking skills into the rapidly-evolving field of social media have found that this particular work-at-home job is not only sustainable, but rewarding - both professionally, and personally.
“I have had the advantage of growing my business around the children for the past nine years,” deLuca said. “This flexibility is repeatedly the reason I see other moms developing social media businesses. This is also the reason I believe moms make such good social media marketers, as we are juggling multiple tasks, roles, and responsibilities on a daily basis. The ability to plan and schedule with military precision, combined with the flexibility to adapt to changing situations in an instant, is a requirement of successful motherhood.
“Watch any mom ‘sell’ consumption of vegetables to a child and you can see why we find marketing an easy transition. Combine that with our innate need to socialize (watch us … lunch with our girlfriends), and you have the perfect blend for a social media marketer.”