Caitlin Thayer ’07
Owner of Barefoot Media LLC, Hartford, Conn.
Caitlin Thayer does not take her feet for granted, and with good reason.
As a competitive runner, those feet carry her over hundreds of miles of New England roads each year, hitting the weather-worn, traffic-scarred pavement for races ranging in distance from 5K to a half marathon. And that’s not to mention the practice runs — three times a week if she’s being good.
But here’s the thing: Thayer doesn’t fear doing all that without the benefit of wearing shoes. She is an avid barefoot runner, often eschewing anything that comes between her soles and the street.
Her business — appropriately named Barefoot Media — is as equally scrappy as her running style. Thayer launched her company (originally called Thayer Consulting) on the notion that she could coach nonprofits on using social media to spread the word about their organizations effectively and cheaply. Her clients, like The Alliance for Nonprofit Growth and Opportunity, the Hartford Public Library, the United Way and the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, hire Thayer to train them and strategize ways they can employ social media platforms to their advantage.
Thayer is no stranger to the nonprofit world. Following her graduation from Clark, the Maine native moved to Hartford to work as assistant manager of visitor services at The Mark Twain House and Museum. She was soon asked to run the museum’s Facebook page, and realized she had a knack for optimizing social media. Over time Thayer was approached by other nonprofits to help with their online presence, her clientele list expanding to the point that she quit her museum job to start her consulting company.
“I actually think my young age made it easier to go out on my own,” Thayer says. “My biggest challenge has been that I don’t have a business background, so it’s been a learning experience dealing with invoicing, taxes and the legalities of starting and running a business.”
“Barefoot” is more than a catchy title — it also describes Thayer’s approach to her work. Much of her job involves illuminating clients — some who are skittish about new technologies — about the ways in which social media can be synthesized into their business plan.
“I teach my clients how to use social media in a natural way, grow it organically,” she says. “There are so many people who think that social media is just for selling products and marketing themselves, which doesn’t help their company or organization in the long run. So I teach organizations how to be natural, how to connect with their audience and how to use social media for long-term success.”
Thayer’s own success is getting her noticed. She’s a familiar presence in the Hartford media, who frequently seek her out to comment on social-media topics. Hartford Magazine named Thayer one of the county’s top young achievers, and she leads training seminars to help nonprofits enhance their online portfolio.
As her business grows, Thayer is compiling tips and techniques she’s developed for clients over the years and will post a do-it-yourself social-media manual that folks can download for free. She knows effective communication, like running, cannot be fettered by traditional methods; that success will take you in exciting, sometimes unexpected, directions. Yes, Caitlin Thayer is on the move, but she also has her feet firmly planted.