Dafna Michaelson at the Visitor's Center in Philadelphia
Dafna Michaelson at the Visitor’s Center in Philadelphia

As I have traveled the country with the Dex Digital team over the last two years I have met small and medium sized business owners and entrepreneurs who, like the rest of us, share a goal of success. Successful businesses, successful personal lives, successful communities. My task when I work with these groups is to demystify social media for small business success in a 45 minute chunk. That’s right, 45 minutes to impart the basics of how to post, where to post, what to post how often to post, why to post, whether or not to post, who to hire to post and on and on. Impossible, right?

These workshops, lovingly coined Social Media 101, come at the tail end of a long day learning from small business experts about getting their businesses found and chosen. When they get to my break out room they are tired but juiced. They want to know how to get their message out there and how to get down to the business of being selected. They look to me to show them the light.

Many in the room have tried social media before, they’ve hired “experts”, they looked for a young person they believed were genetically modified to speak social, they programmed days worth of tweets…and they have had no return. They are “burnt out” and “too busy” and have developed the belief that time spent creating content for social media is time that is detracting them from the overall business of creating success.

We have a lot of fun in my session and generally I am able to change the perception of the business owners and they are ready to take a fresh approach to finding their social media voice. The first step I always tackle is what on earth you should be putting out there to begin to turn social media from a time suck to a funnel filler. The first step to creating compelling content: know your story and tell it.

Once the people have taken their seats and buckled their seat-belts for the lightning round I do my social media mission statement exercise. I run them through it at 2 minutes per question and at the end a few brave souls raise their hands to share. Today I would like to tell you about what happened in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

We were in one of the theaters in the Visitors Center across from the Liberty Bell. As a child I had spent many a field trip sitting in these same pew like benches watching the movies about how our freedom came to be. It was surreal for me to be standing in front of this theater to address this eager group. No sleeping school children here.

We were in the groove. Rocking and rolling right through the exercise. The first woman timidly raised her hand to share. She told us how she wanted to help connect children to mentors in the community. Her business model was to find the throw away kids and match them with those who could show them the options that were available to them in life. She used powerful descriptive words. The audience was interested but that’s where it ended.

I asked her to work a little harder, I asked her why?

Her first response was pretty predictable:
“I love kids.”
I probed further. “Why you?”
“Because I was one of those kids.”

Her eyes moistened as she said the words. The hair on my arms stood up. The room hushed and the energy shifted. Before we were moderately interested in this woman’s business. Now we were committed to this woman who revealed to us that she was a champion of her people. Did she use those words? No. She simply shed a bit of light as to what motivates her to succeed. A little insight to the soul, the grit, the determination that had to live in her to bring her from being “one of those kids” to a small business owner hell bent on shaping a positive future for children who found themselves in a situation she was intimately familiar with.

This revelation helped the other business owners in the room begin to reflect on the driving factors that rest within them. Dig deep. What is at the root of the business you have chosen to begin? Why do you work 7 days a week, 20 hours a day to make it happen? Communicating that story in the content you develop to share on social media platforms will be the beginning of using the tools the way they were intended: to build conversation, share inspiration and to connect you with the people who need what you have to offer.

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