March 02, 2009

Melanie Mitchell: The Woman Whose Twitter Handle Became a Tattoo

A little more than two weeks ago, friend and fellow tech geek Drew Olanoff announced he would be raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in an unorthodox way. He offered to put his skin in the game, literally, getting a permanent tattoo of the Twitter nickname on his forearm, to the highest bidder. Why? As he wrote, "kids deserve awesomeness". With his love of Twitter and tattoos besides, the unique offer was very "Drew". But the bidding was tremendous to say the least, not to mention fun. I even bid $333 and $555, pushing the bidding forward, even if I didn't expect or intend to win (but I would have paid).

And at the end of it all, Melanie Mitchell emerged as the winner, bidding $2,112 for the privilege. Now that the bidding has closed, and Drew has done the dirty deed, getting inked, and video taping the process, we checked in with Melanie to get the back story.

@melaniemitchell on Drew's arm (via

A quick Q&A follows below:

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a marketing executive heavily involved in the search and social media industries (my bio: I also love to travel, read, spend time with family/friends and meet new people.

How did you find out about Drew's Twitter tattoo idea?

Drew and I are "Facebook friends" and he posted the twitter tattoo message there.

What did you first think?

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be a tattoo at first, but it was hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm and passion that Drew had for charity and helping the kids. I thought it was a creative and interesting idea and decided it was something I wanted to be a part of.

What made you decide to participate? And to win?

A couple of reasons. First, it was for charity. I donate to other charities that are important to me, but hadn't donated to Make-A-Wish in the past, but I always thought it was a great charity. In fact, several years ago my friends and I had a conversation about what our Make-A-Wish "wish" would be if we had a choice. Mine was that I wanted to spend the day with the writers from "The Simpsons" during a brainstorming session -- after all they say laughter is the best medicine :). That show is hilarious and I can't imagine what ideas fly back and forth in that room! Second, while I don't know Drew personally, we are in very similar industries and we have cross over acquaintances. I respect him and his work and think he is even more amazing for coming up with the idea. I would (and am) proud to be on his arm. As far as winning, I suppose it was luck of the draw as there were other people also bidding, but I did consciously choose my last bid to be over a rounded number just in case someone else picked the next rounded number up.

Is Twitter an important part of your online life?

It is a part of my life and it is important as far as what I use it for, but I have to admit I don't spend several hours a day on Twitter. I use it to keep up with friends, network with people with similar interests, but also as a learning tool to learn more about areas I'm interested in (like health and nutrition as one example) as well as keep up with trends in technology.

What do you think this promotion says about social media?

It showed me that social media continues to be an amazing way to raise awareness about good causes, as well as foster support for them. Twitter in particular is beginning to shine as a cause marketing platform. Its ability to offer instant action and reaction is perfect for fund raising -- and you are already seeing success on it. In this instance, Drew inspired even more people to donate to Make-A-Wish as a result of his promotion. It was amazing that he brought thousands of people together for a worthy cause.

As you know, Twitter is a way to join the conversation and participate in what is of interest to you. Whether its charity or tattoos or mountain biking or running – there are people out there talking about what they like/don’t like and sharing information every day. It’s up to us as individuals to decide if we want to participate in the conversation and if so then where. Then of course you have the “re-tweets”, which broadens the reach of a "tweet" even further where you can be introduced to someone and their interests/ideas that you may not have otherwise found. Or go to and search using the “#” sign if you are interested in a particular topic to help cluster results -- as was the case with #twittertattoo.

Now that Drew has the tattoo, what do you think of your name on some guy's arm?

I am honored to be on Drew's arm. As I previously mentioned, we don't know each other personally, but I knew “of” him and his work. Drew has a great reputation in the industry for being a smart and cool guy. Now throw in the fact that he got permanently inked for charity - its a great story and I am glad I'm a part of it.

Have you gotten more followers on Twitter or more notoriety as a result?

I did get more followers, but not more notoriety, however that wasn't the reason I got involved. Lots of people were involved with following the twitter tattoo story and promoting it through "re-tweets" or blog posts or video clips, but my goal wasn't to get more followers or 15 minutes of fame.

After the bidding closed, I was very humbled by the people, many that I didn't know previously, that reached out to me directly to thank me for being so generous. I thought (and think) Drew made the bigger commitment in that he has the permanent tattoo, but I went into it because I honestly thought it was a cool idea and I would have donated to Make-A-Wish afterwards even if I had lost. Since I was lucky and won, it gives me a great story to tell people that "Hey! I'm a tattoo now" :)!! Even my conservative parents think its cool.

Melanie was generous both in her donating to the charity and in donating her time to answer our questions. I've seen Drew in action and he's quite the evangelist when it comes to new media, this being a great example. Appreciate Melanie's donation and her responses. You can find her on Twitter here, or... on Drew's arm.

Video Below: