Interview: Lovely County, A Celebration of Women
Janet Alexander – The Social Media Cheerleader
by Beth Bartlett 2010 for Lovely County Citizen
Janet Alexander wants you online. Now. Before you whip those pants off, understand that she’s interested in your business, not your booty. Her new business, eCHI Marketing, is on the bleeding edge of social networking, and is the culmination of a life’s work in art, theater, education and media.
Alexander lists herself as ‘Eureka Springs’ Social Media Cheerleader,’ a perfect title for one of the town’s homegrown heroes. Born in Fort Hood, Texas, her family moved to Eureka
Springs when she was just three years old, which made her too young for city politics but close enough to be a native. Her self-starting, entrepreneurial nature kicked in early witha door-to-door dog-washing business when she was 10, followed by the tried-and-true Eurekan path of restaurant and retail employment.
“I was always working,” she said.
As an adult, she has lived in Los Angeles, Miami, Memphis, Mexico and Germany, and received education in art, theater and teaching, but she always found her way back home to Eureka Springs, where she became an essential part of the art and theater scene. Her willingness to take on any project and throw her heart and soul into it made her a key player in many special events, festivals and city promotions.
That experience gave her the sharp eyes to spot the coming evolution in media and marketing.
Alexander started seeing the shift to online promotion during her last traditional job six years ago. The position involved a lot of marketing, and social networking on sites like Facebook and MySpace were just beginning to catch on as away to connect businesses as well as people.
“I started moving other people in the office with me, teaching them how to use certain networking sites to broadcast what we were doing in the company. In my head, I thought, I would love to do just this for a living,” she said.
After she left that employment, she found herself at home wondering, “What do I do now?” Alexander knew her next project needed to be creative. Already involved with several social media sites, she realized that marketing online worked for her on several levels: it would allow to her to stay at home,
work on her own terms, and yet it would encourage that extroverted, theater-trained side of her personality. Once her extensive research into making the work pay was done, she was on the forefront of the next big thing in networking.
Before she even officially hung her shingle, she was approached by people asking for help in the new media arena. She realized this endeavor into the virtual workplace could bring some good to her hometown.
“It was about my friends, the ones I know by name herein town, the ones I grew up with and have known all my life,” she said. “Their shops were struggling to bring in money and nobody’s helping them. They’re doing all they can, but they don’t know enough. ”
She created new media personas for several businesses, including Melange, a trendy boutique located on Spring Street. These personas included profiles on networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, giving the businesses a way to connect directly with customers. Within the year, Alexander’s
business shifted from creating a new media platform for clients to using her own persona as a platform, and all by popular demand.
“I’ve done a one-eighty in my business,” she said. “I created these personas for people, but everyone kept coming to me for my take. They didn’t want to talk to Melange, as much as they loved it, they wanted to talk to me.”
She created her own personality called Eureka Janet, and now takes clients into her world, rather than creating a virtual world for them.
“Eureka Janet has become big in social media circles and I have a strong presence where my voice is heard,” she said. “If I pick up a product to emphasize and broadcast through networking I become their spokesperson.”
She added that she only works with brands she trusts, and that have been thoroughly vetted. By speaking on behalf of her clients, a brand is given that word-of-mouth appeal that a regular commercial or ad doesn’t convey.
“They’ve got me behind them as a personality, saying, ‘I’ve seen it, I’ve done it.’ I don’t have to force anything now. Eureka Janet is this personality that has found it, no matter what it is. All those years of theater and writing and everything I’ve ever done is in this bag and it works.
“Her clients range from small, local businesses like Melange and W.T. Fockers to large corporations like the Ford Motor Company, who saw her work on Twitter and approached her for her honest, standout
personality. While major clients like Ford receive full-on blogging and networking service, she also believes in giving away twice as much as she gets; her site offers free advice, and she has several price points for online business direction and evaluation.
Just following her on any of the popular networks like Twitter and Facebook can teach hungry minds some valuable lessons in marketing and sharing information. She’s a part of more than 300 social sites as Eureka Janet, but fans can usually find her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, her blog at http://eurekajanet.wordpress.com [http://eurekajanet.com] and her Web site at eCHImarketing.com.
Although her business continues to grow, she always has room for more local interests. Currently she also works with worthy causes like the Merlin Foundation and Clear Spring School.
“Eureka matters in my life. I’m very passionate about Eureka Springs,” she said.
Even though she’s online at least 18 hours a day, Alexander still gets out and attends national conferences in marketing, promotion and social media, and keeps up with what’s happening in northwest Arkansas by going to events and Chamber of Commerce meetings. She may be the busiest person on or off line, and she’s found a new contentment in following her own path.
“I get to work in my bunny slippers and hold puppies on my lap. Yeah, I’m happier than I’ve been in a very long time.”
A CELEBRATION OF WOMEN – 2010
The author, Beth Bartlett, can be found at Squiggle–The Writing World of Plaid Earthworm