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.
As a professional storyteller I have become used to the standard response to my profession......
"Do you tell in pre-schools?"
At this point I usually give my little elevator history lesson about how storytelling is a very old performing art, which can provide entertainment for all ages. I usually place a particular emphasis how folk stories, from the world's cultures, cover pretty much all of the human condition.
When I started my new business, White Fox Social Media, I made the mistake of assuming that this was an occupation that was fairly self-explanatory. So I was particularly surprised by the bemused reaction of many of my friends. And then I learned that there was also a second, consistent, reaction that came from business associates.
My friends, at the point I've declared, "I've gone into social media marketing," give me a incredulous look. Followed by an, "Oh." And by both look and tone they make it clear that I have said the equivalent of, "I have decided to re-create the Pyramid of Giza out of fluff bunnies."
Reactions are better when I mention this new occupation to business associates, since they are very aware of the power of social media in their marketing strategy. In many cases, though, it is apparent that they view the multiple needs of social media as akin to grappling a giant squid.
So now I am developing two new elevator speeches.
One for my friends about how social media has evolved to play a vital role in marketing.
And one for my business associates to explain that the giant squid can be handled - one tentacle at a time.
Some may wonder how a storyteller wanders off into the full-time business of social media marketing. And, I'll admit, I have occasionally wondered that myself, though not with any regrets. Social Media offers an intriguing array of opportunities to tell stories, and I am looking forward to doing so for my clients.
Over the last year I have been aggressively networking for my storytelling business, White Fox Productions, Ltd, and during many lunches social media was discussed. Often times one of the luncheon members would give a little talk on the topic, and it never failed that many of the listeners said that they didn't have the time to do their business's Facebook page consistently.
And that wasn't even getting into all of the other platforms, such as Twitter, or Pinterest.
The idea lurked in the back of my mind, where I was beginning to pull together the realization I had the needed skills.
Over the last few years I had been studying how best to market my storytelling, and so was learning about how best to use Facebook, and other platforms, to my benefit. And I also have a background in writing, which has been used for the blogs, but still under-utilized.
Many years back I had dreams (delusions?) of being a novelist, and did a creative writing portfolio for my Masters in English. Somehow, though, the novel sidetracked me into storytelling. I had been trying to write a believable folk musician, but I did not play a musical instrument or sing. And at one point I had the opportunity at a writer's conference to ask writer/musician, Emma Bull, how to write a believable musician. She told me, "Perform something. Get in front of an audience."
A year later storyteller, Dan Keding, offered a workshop in storytelling.
That was perfect! I loved listening to folk stories, and figured that I could at least practice my new found skills on family - and hapless friends.
And after twenty-six years I am still storytelling (the novel is in the file cabinet), and now it is time to combine the storytelling and the writing into a new business venture.
So, last week, White Fox Social Media was born.
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.