Last Friday I stood wiping away tears as I washed off my old rocking horse for the auctioneer. Up until that moment it had sat in the basement, unacknowledged, and covered in forty years of dust, but with the contact, and the care, memories whispered back. This was the present my Uncle Dewey gave me. He had walked me across the street to the Thirfty's, and let me pick out any toy I wanted. Even if it was a black plastic rocking horse nearly too big for me. But Uncle Dewey lived large, even for a family that lived large, and in a heartbeat he had purchased it, and carried it back across the street for me.
On my daring steed I dreamed many adventures, as an only child will, and that Friday morning, as I gently washed its molded black mane, I sorrowed for forgetting my brave companion. Harder the still was the idea that I was planning on including it in a auctioneer's lot. But what does a fifty-five year old woman need with a rocking horse?
When the auctioneer began to haul stuff from the basement, and reached for the rocking horse all I could say was, "Stop."
Such memories are not given away lightly. Particularly not to someone who shrugs off other people's loves and memories with a jaded shoulder.
Originally I thought this tale more fitting for my White Fox Stories page, but I realized that it had more to do with social media.
I have heard friends say, "Our history will be lost! Everything will be digital and in two hundred years will be gone!"
But then I think of the theory that all of our radio signals and T. V. shows are eternally broadcasting across the universe, and I have to wonder - What of all the media consigned to the internet? Shared, liked, and commented on - working further and further away from its source. Does this give some immortality to our memories?
Granted I have no answers, and am admittedly waxing a bit maudlin, but any who reached middle age (and many before) are faced with the remnants of family lives. And the question soon becomes, "How many memories can I save?" "How many talismans of my life can I store?"
As I worked through my house I also found my bronze baby shoes.
"Ah, who would want the footwear of another''s baby?"
And yes, I am endeavoring to save the above memories - to send them off into a digital land of the young. Because all of this reminded me of all of those photos that are saved onto the internet - lifetimes of vacation, celebrations, births, and memorials. Personal stories of both human and pet, and the wild too.
Oh the technology and the media will change, and who knows if all of these memories will be able to be accessed in two hundred years. But I find some reassurance in the possibility that like our old radio signals the digital transmissions of our memories will live on.
Whether presenting to an a live audience, or via the power of a digital medium, a well-told story matters. A well-crafted story builds connections, and begins the process of trust.
It has been said, to the point of cliche, that we are being bombarded with information, and even if it is a cliche it is also true. Everyone, particularly every business, wants our attention. And yet, conversely, despite the flood tide of information and marketing that the digital age has brought about, it has also been said that that it can bring businesses and customers closer together.
This is particularly true for local businesses, with a target market of their hometown, and the surrounding areas. The local business that makes effective use of social media is able to have a better feel for their clients, and the clients feel that they have a say.
So how do stories factor in?
In order to create a environment for client loyalty the business, and its owner, need to present a powerful tale about that business. What was the spark for the beginning? Who are the people that have made it grow? What is the driving focus and belief? And equally important, how have the company, and their staff, supported the community?
The key to the story's power is that the presenter needs to be honest in their tale. The message has to be authentic, because the audience, the clients, know in their gut when the tale is a sham. They know when they are just being given what the teller thinks they want to hear.
It has also been said that good storyteller, or a good writer, needs to "show - not tell" when creating their story.
Businesses can do this by alerting their clients to stories about how they are part of the community, or about how they went beyond for a customer. The businesses also need to be consistent in telling their tale - it cannot be only once in a while.
For a company's social media strategy this is not one short tale, but must be considered like an epic - a powerful tale told over many, many days. A tale told with variety and creativity.
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.