Like rapid gun fire, her fingers fly across the keys of her computer’s keyboard, a mad dash to create the perfect, to the gut, 140 character message. Never missing a beat, her fingers curl around her coffee cup and she takes a swig, a gleam in her eye as she turns her attention to Facebook.
Perhaps you’ve got an image of this madcap social media mafia boss in your head. Likely, you’ve envisioned a Millennial, one of those young, misunderstood youths of today who grew up on Twitter feeds and Facebook walls. Heck, in this day and age, this keyboard virtuoso could be your five year old cousin. But you’d be wrong.
Deb Brown is a self-professed lover of social media. With sassy silver hair and laughing brown eyes, you might not think “Social Media Marketing Expert” at first glance. But clichés are clichés because they are true: never judge a book by its cover or the mind behind the well-crafted blog post by its creator’s appearance.
At sixty-two, Deb remembers a time when social media meant you wrote a letter and posted it in the mail. Now, that’s a thing of nostalgia, something you send to someone when you want to impress them with the fact you’ve learned cursive writing on your own. Her tattooed arms covered in a modest jacket, Deb looks just like the nicest neighbor you’ve ever had. And she is super nice; well-read (a voracious reader, something I know a little bit about myself), articulate, and wildly intelligent, Deb has vast experience in the Chamber-verse and the wilds of social media-land. She’s just the type of chick you want in your rural business corner.
“Tell your story,” she says. And she does; a masterful story teller, Deb has lists of ways rural businesses can create tiny villages within communities, self-sustaining and successful little hubs of commerce. “I’ve got one for you. I was at the Rural X Summit in July with Becky (McCray). We did a walk-through of a little tiny town called Faulkton, in South Dakota. Our version of a walk-through is perhaps much different than that of others; what we showcase is ideas that work in any town. For instance, between two old buildings, there was about a three foot space that led to a large parking area behind both buildings. It was choked with weeds, and had some trash littering the ground. We pointed out that lots of small towns have these spaces. What if they rounded up some high school students to clean it up, paint a mural, and remove the weeds. It could be a nice little ‘hallway’ between the two buildings to get to the parking area. What was once an eyesore could be a point of community pride. Getting the youth involved ensures that the hallway remained cared for, and was something they could point out and say, ‘We did that’.”
Community pride. Provide it, and the youth of your town will always come back. Give them a place to call their own, that they can be proud of. “Donated buildings can be collaborative work places for the old-timers and the youth to learn from one another. Rural communities often have a lot of retired farmers. You know what those retired farmers also have a lot of? Tools. Why not have a maker’s space? Encourage them to bring their tools and teach the young people of the community how to use them. Woodworking, metalworking, 3-D printing, rag-rug making...working together only strengthens the community and its businesses.”
We’ve convinced Deb to come share her Innovative Rural Business Models on Wednesday, September 13th and her Marketing in a Small Town Workshop on Thursday, September 14th at this year’s Rural Business & Innovation Summit. To learn more about Deb, visit our site. Don’t forget to REGISTER! You’ll be very sad and miss all the stories!