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Kathleen Colan of Your Story Social LLC

Meet Kathleen Colan, founder of Your Story Social LLC, an online marketing practice specializing in helping organizations tell and amplify their stories online with social media. The firm is located in Cleveland Heights, and has two employees and 12 contractors.
Did you always know you wanted to go into business for yourself?
The feeling was always there -- deep down and niggling -- but I had a lot of fear blocking my way. Suffice it to say, the fear has been smashed.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
After graduating from John Carroll University in 1991 with a communications degree I worked my way up in the public relations field until I was national media relations manager for Progressive Insurance in 2000. After the pressure-cooker of working for corporate America, I took a year off to get sober and travel. It was only after this period of introspection that I followed my heart’s desire to become a journalist in 2001.

Why did you start your business? 
When the market crashed in 2008 and the newspaper industry started to bleed even more jobs, I was laid off as editor of The Plain Dealer’s custom publishing division when it closed. Once again, I took about six months of light duty to meditate and figure out how I would use my storytelling skills as a viable business for the rest of my life. I came to a few conclusions: Newspapers were over; online storytelling had already trumped traditional storytelling; I needed to immediately gain online marketing skills.
During this time of meditation, I served as marketing director for a technology startup in the online marketing industry and I took the contract. From 2009 to 2011 I went to dozens of online marketing conferences around the country.
I then knew I was more ready to hang my shingle, but still needed to refine my value proposition and overall business skills. I spent a year at Shaker LaunchHouse working with entrepreneurs, taking classes and seminars. I finally launched Your Story Social in 2011.
Why is social media an important facet of marketing today?
The biggest misconception people have with social media is they think that if they establish their accounts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn they’ll immediately have success.
The reality is that there is so much branding, marketing and content preparation that goes into planning and executing a social media strategy. That’s where our sweet spot is. We specialize in helping clients plan, strategize, train employees and execute social media strategies.
What’s the most unique way you’ve found a client?
As entrepreneurs we see every person we meet as a possible client. Two of our best customers recently came as a result of strangers reaching out on LinkedIn. Whenever someone we don’t know reaches out, we reply with a short message saying that while we don’t know you we’d be delighted to learn more and, by the way, here’s what we do so please let us know if we can be a resource to you. The strategy works. Social media is kind of amazing that way. 

Where will your company be in five years?
We’ve already lined up an impressive roster of clients for 2013 and plan to grow the business into a larger agency in the next five years. 

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