By Chris Olsen
When Mark Zuckerberg announced a couple of years ago that the Facebook algorithm would be prioritizing “meaningful interactions” with friends and family, I started paying attention. I wanted to see if more of this content showed up in my news feed. The shift was particularly evident at the beginning and end of each school year. During those times, social media feeds overflowed with photos of kids. In the fall, there were children standing on porches with fresh haircuts and new outfits, holding letterboard or homemade signs displaying the grades they were about to embark on. And then again at the end of the school year, the posts were back with kids looking a bit more disheveled, taller or with longer hair, clearly ready for summer.
I admit, I adore these first and last day of school photos. As I scroll through Facebook, I show my support for the parents, most of whom seem elated that their kids are returning to their school year routines, or proud of what they have achieved. I feel genuinely happy as I click the heart emoji on these posts. And I click all of them. Every single one. Even for the children of friends I haven’t seen since high school. I’m not alone. Statistics show these posts rank right up there with birthdays and weddings.
Here’s the thing about supporting kids and parents online during those first and last weeks of school: It takes almost no effort to do so. All that’s required is a quick click as you scroll through your news feed. A split-second positive affirmation. The kid feels good and the parent feels good. Even if you’re not a big fan of Facebook or other social platforms, this is what social media was made for. It can be a powerful tool for building connections and communities.
It got me thinking—what if we supported the small businesses of friends and family members on social media the way we support kids embarking on the first and last days of school? What if we made an extra effort to cheer on the businesses of female founders who receive significantly less support to start and grow small businesses? What if, every time your friend, former coworker, sister, cousin or aunt posted something about her business, you simply clicked the heart emoji? A split-second positive affirmation that says, “I see you over there building your enterprise, boss lady.” And, “Keep doing what you’re doing, fierce founder. You’re making a difference.”
If you have more than a second, by all means, comment with an emoji or actual words! Share the post and shout out your friend who is running a successful company despite the odds stacked up against women business owners. Tag a friend or two or 10 to help raise awareness for this thing that your friend or family member is putting her heart and soul into every single day. Post a photo of her products and a link to her website. Leave a favorable review to let the world know you think she’s a badass. None of these things cost a dime and make all the difference in the world to a small business owner.
And when you do spend money on back-to-school and summer gear (because let’s be honest, you will be spending money on these things), make it your mission to shop women-owned businesses.
About the author: Chris Olsen is a radio veteran turned communications consultant, educator and author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose”. Through her work as a consultant partnering with startups, Chris realized her WHY—to support womxn-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose and impact, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.