An Interview with gDiapers’ Social Media Master

As I’ve mentioned before, I really like gDiapers.  And a big reason why is because they do a great job of reaching out online and creating a community.  In my former professional life, I was responsible for Online Marketing and you always strive to engage your audience – This is social media at its best.  I’ve been super impressed and over the last couple years, I’ve been privileged to get to know the mastermind behind gDiapers’ online presence.  Her name is Kelli Martinelli and she has been gDiapers’ Communication Manager (and from all accounts, she’s awesome).  She’s moving on to new ventures but before she left, I wanted to ask her a few questions about her life as the online personality of a wonderful company.  Forgive the poor formatting.  Wordpress hates me.

1.  What part of being gDiapers’ online personality will you miss the most?

I have a feeling that what I anticipate and what the reality will be will differ. But what I am anticipating is missing simply the engagement. The “gDiapers’ online personality” is really just a more PG version of myself. I truly love engaging with the g community. Of finding new bloggers or partner companies to work with and new stories to share. Of asking questions and gauging responses. Of coming up with new ways to play together. It’s been a steady drumbeat to my day, my evening, my weekends,  and it’s been my long-term strategy and my on-the-fly and off-the-cuff itch that I get to scratch. We’re all here cause we want to be, really, and I have been so honored to guide that conversation. And you know, Zuckerberg nailed it with that thumbs up thing. When I post something like “Your baby is your happy place.” and it gets liked and shared hundreds of times over, my inner thumbs up smiles a bit bigger. No lie.

2.  What would you say were the hardest parts of your job?

Watching the competition slide right in and acquire fans through cheap tricks is maddening. The gDiapers community has been built organically, through friends and customers who really want to be hanging out with us on that page, not just to score some “free trial” offer or to rub theoretical elbows with a shiny celeb. Ugh. Ruiners. Also, it’s been hard to wear so many hats. My head isn’t really very big, and my ears sit a tad high which makes some hats kinda awkward. When you wear a lot of hats not everyone truly knows what it is that you do, exactly (even your own colleagues). Integrated social media strategy and execution, email marketing, creative project planning, customer service management, blogging, copywriting, they all take time and are inter-woven. But in most companies, they’re separate positions, not one job. It has been a balancing act, and I have longed to be able to trim away some of the hats so that I could give more focus to one or two and be able to do them to their greater potential. But when you’re in a little company there simply isn’t the resources to hire a new body for every detail, so you end up doing them all, which can be taxing and can allow some details to take a backseat to others.

3.  Be honest.  Does it ever get old – liking pictures of babies?

No. In fact as I get older, and my own babies begin asking questions like “Are the Greek gods more real than the Roman ones?” I’m becoming more of a moth to a flame when it comes to babies. I WILL HOLD ALL THE BABIES!

4. How often do you “sympathy like” people’s babies? Let’s be honest – not all pictures are awesome.  HAVE YOU DONE THIS WITH PICTURES OF MY BABIES???  🙂

It  makes me pretty sad that 99% of all the babies I like across the interwebs I’ll never get to meet in person. The babies that I’ve blogged about, the profile pic lovelies, the babies that turn into toddlers and then hug their younger sibling babies in photos, GAH. Kills me. Just when I’m getting ready to wrap up a little something special in a size small for Sia, BAM, she’s gone and grown. I need a time delay remote and a really fast private jet.

I do not give sympathy likes on facebook, just like I don’t give chest bumps at hockey games . But there have been times where I have liked photos so that fans know that I (gDiapers) has seen them (for a contest, perhaps). And there may be an errant chest bump in my past somewhere ….
5.  What are you most of proud of when you look back at your accomplishments from your 7+ years at gDiapers?
It’s hard to think of “proud” so selfishly. gDiapers is a team. A tiny team of 18, though so many think g is a huge corporation (which is a huge challenge in and of itself!). And tiny teams don’t put the pride all on one player. Our marketing team kicks ass, and without Dodge and his kitten calendar, and Doe and the gMums, and Michelle and her partner relationships, and Heather and her slick new postage machine (along with so many others!), “my” accomplishments would be no more than hot air in a porous balloon.
6.  Did you have any surprising complete flops while in this role?  What did you learn from it?
I did early on. It was when social media was just starting to get underway and the bulk of my day to day revolved around customer service. There was a customer with an issue. And I responded with a solution, which the customer appreciated. But then I second guessed my solution and ran it by someone on the g management team, and I was then pressed to give an alternate solution to the customer, which did NOT go over well. And it shouldn’t have. It wasn’t the right solution for this customer.  My gut was right the first time. But not listening to it meant the issue turned into a problem. And if you’ve ever been in customer service, you’ll know that these problems can sit with you. You wear them in your heart and they sit like a grease-trap in your stomach. I went home that day and bawled. It wasn’t the only time that a customer service issue or a social media interaction messed with my emotions pretty strongly, but it was the day that it occurred to me that my instinct was pretty damn spot on. I knew what the customer needed, and that was more important than what the protocol dictated. I had empathy, and empathy is to be trusted.
7.  What skillset/path led you to be the social media master that you are today?  Did you always have an interest in this space or did you stumble across it?
Early on in my life I squatted down, wrapped my purple coat around my knees, buttoned it up, then waddled around the playground pretending to be a purple oompa loompa. I wrote poetry about litter in the 2nd grade. I was a cheerleader, twice. I was spirit commissioner for my high school, bringing spotlights to the Arcata Invitational Basketball Tournament for the first time EVAH. I was a camp counselor on multiple occasions and one time, at an outdoor school gig, I got a bad review from the “head counselor” but got a standing ovation from my campers. I’ve always had a knack for being myself when others were trying to be a “kins” (this was a thing, “Jennykins” “Donnakins” “Tarakins”, it was like Heathers for Humboldt County middle schoolers). My colleague and dear friend, Karen, made me cry into my egg nog the other day at my “farewell roast”, when she spoke to how I’ve demonstrated how to really be yourself at gDiapers. She said it eloquently, and I’m messing up her words. But before then, I had never thought about how being myself was much of a career strategy or skillset, but now I see it.
I sought out a job with gDiapers because I loved the company and the product. They gave me the customer service department (which at the time was just me). And I grew into new roles, ultimately driving the online communications strategy for this itty bitty company with a groovy diaper. Social media master I’m not, but I am master at being myself, which (most of the time) tends to play well with others. And that play is happening on the social media playground. Ergo, there I yam. It’s where storytelling, personal connectivity and revolutionary change is given permission to occupy the dance floor and go nuts.
8.  Any advice for your successor(s)?

Anticipate the most negative or contrary reaction you can think of before you post something publicly.

Be a magic wand, not a cookie cutter.
And don’t lose yourself. You are not a brand.

So humble, so real, so smart, so grammatically correct.  Awesome, amirite?  I feel connected to her because I wore a pillow case with a face drawn on it over my body and made a hat with cutouts for my eyes in the second grade.  I was a munchkin in our school’s production of The Wizard of Oz.  I’m not going to lie.  The performance wasn’t the only time I wore that getup.

I kept her questions mostly contained to her job at gDiapers but she’s doing some amazing things.  She is producing the Portland Listen To Your Mother show this coming Mother’s Day.  Listen To Your Mother is a national series of live readings performed on local stages, by local writers and in support of local communities. This will be the first year that LTYM has a presence in Portland.  Here’s the link to the LTYM website: http://listentoyourmothershow.com/portland/.  It really makes me wish I lived in Portland.  If you do live in the area, go see the show! It promises to be a great time!

Thank you Kelli for keeping all us gDiaper fanatics entertained and engaged.  You are going to do big BIG things.

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