Tomorrow is Social Media Day.
Now in its seventh year, the annual celebration was created by Mashable.com as a way to recognize social media’s impact on communities around the world.
There are many ways to join the worldwide celebration, including using the hashtag #smday when posting images and messages.
Feel like throwing a party? Get together with fellow social media users to celebrate.
According to the official website at mashable.com/smday, meet-ups happened all over the world in 2015, including events in Egypt, Spain and San Diego.
Meet-ups in the U.S. this year will take place in Chicago, Denver, Des Moines and Chicago. The largest meet-up is in New York City, co-hosted by Mashable, Splash and feedfeed.
I asked social media professionals for tips on how social media users and small businesses might celebrate the big day.
If you own a small business, Cheryl Lawson, CEO and founder of Social Media Tulsa, suggested hosting a workshop.
“Order pizza and or cupcakes and teach your team how they can help the business on social [media],” Lawson said.
“Hold your own social media day awards ceremony,” Lawson added. “Celebrate your most active customers and award them #smday winners. And there’s no need to rent the auditorium. Just post winners on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and thank them for being so awesome.”
Dennis Schiraldi, owner of CYO Marketing and co-founder of Youngstown’s first-ever digital marketing conference, DOYO Live, also focused on how businesses might leverage #smday.
“Typically something like [Social Media Day], the trick is to grab the attention of the more connected, typically more social [media] savvy person,” Schiraldi said, describing these social media users as “influencers.”
“Identify your influencers on that particular day, whether it’s a topic or a region,” Schiraldi added. “It would make sense to build a list on Twitter or follow these individuals on Instagram.”
Many events highlight local businesses. “In Tulsa, we have been bowling, we’ve hosted a social media panel for musicians, we have eaten at the newest BBQ joint, hosted a pool party, had a local business owner share his experience, and we’ve had speakers and panel discussions,” Lawson added.
Some fun ways to participate on your own include creating unique hashtags and taking selfies.
Lawson suggests highlighting “all things awesome in your city or school. Try using #smday(yourcity) or #smday(yourschool).”
“Have selfie contests,” Lawson added. “That’s what we’re all doing on social media anyway, right?”
Scott Monty, owner of Scott Monty Strategies and former social media director for Ford Motor Co., asked “Why does social media need its own day? It furthers the notion that social media is a standalone effort. Celebrate every day.” Lawson and Schiraldi echoed this sentiment.
In fact, Mashable.com notes, “Every day is essentially Social Media Day.”
When I was a new college professor, an older professor told me, “They probably know more about some of this stuff than you do. The trick is to make them think you always know more than them.”
That advice never worked for me.
Last week during Youngstown State University’s annual Summer Honors Institute, I had the fortune of teaching some very smart high school students about social media communication.
“There’s no way I’m going to stand up here and pretend like I know everything about social media,” I said during the opening lecture. “In fact, I bet a lot of you use some cool apps and know some cool tricks that I don’t know.”
“I hope you teach me about them.”
Here are a few things I learned from these amazing honors students:
1. They still use Facebook.
For a long time, social media marketers have been downplaying the impact Facebook has on pre-teen and teen purchasing decisions. The truth is, teens are still using Facebook to connect with the world, just maybe not in droves.
Sure, not all of my students were using Facebook. But then not of all of my students were using Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat either. The takeaway here is that we will probably never have a universally adopted social media platform, and that’s OK.
The trick is crafting messages for multiple platforms in hopes of meeting the audience where they are.
2. Tumblr is still rolling.
Tumblr is a micro-blogging social app for posting images, videos, text, links and other content from a browser or mobile device. According to Tumblr, the site hosts more than 300 million blogs and more than a 135 million blog posts.
Two of my students claimed to be active Tumblr users and said many of their friends were also on the platform. When pressed about why they used Tumblr, two answers emerged: Our parents aren’t on it, and it’s really easy to use.
One student noted the “Smash Cache” feature on Tumblr, which allows users to free up extra memory on their mobile devices, delete the cache, make it run faster and crash less.
3. MySpace is still a thing.
Remember MySpace? Between 2005 and 2008, it was the largest social media platform in the world. It pre-dated Facebook in popularity and growth, but quickly dropped in usage.
For some users, it’s still a relevant social media platform, so much so that a few weeks ago, MySpace made news when its usernames and passwords were hacked and put up for sale on a hacker forum.
Security breeches aside, my students use it to stay up on their favorite bands, comedians and other entertainment. One student said “You don’t have to be logged in to listen to music, so passwords aren’t even an issue for me.”
Photo sharing has come a long way in the last 10 years.
Gone are days of grainy, unfocused, high-gloss prints that graced our mother’s photo albums (or, in my case, a few dozen shoeboxes). From Canon 35mm cameras to the instant gratification of Polaroids, we were once amateurs determined to capture important memories.
In recent years, however, we’ve become pseudo-professional photographers.
We’re really good at image capture and video editing thanks to easy-to-use social media apps.
Instagram, the crème de la crème of the social media photo and video-sharing platforms, makes our images look amazing.
And there are a lot of us using Instagram. According to their site, Instagram has more than 400 million active monthly users. More than 80 million photos are uploaded each day, and those posts receiving 3.5 billion likes per day.
Instagram facilitates the public- and private-sharing function of these creative shots beyond the app’s platform through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Swarm (a companion to Foursquare).
For many Instagram users, it’s as much about sharing the image as it is about the 40-plus creative filters and editing features that accompany the app.
Add to these built-in features the third-party apps that tie into the Instagram platform, and you have a photo- and video-editing toolbox that will make you the envy of most Instagrammers.
Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Boomerang. Boomerang creates short, looping videos using high-resolution shots. Best part: It takes only a minute to learn. I tried Boomerang while taking shots of my kids jumping in the pool. After a few takes, I figured out the timing (which meant more pool fun for them). We ended up with some creative loops.
When you press the Boomerang button, the app takes several quick bursts and puts them together in a short video. As the app name suggests, it’s not a “start to finish” loop, but rather “forward and backward” loop (like a Boomerang).
You can shoot in portrait or landscape and share on several platforms.
Word of caution: give your device some time to process the video. I was a little impatient and inadvertently caused the app to shut down.
One Instagram faux pas is the rapid-fire succession of photo and video posts. If you’re a prolific Instagrammer, there’s a good chance you might be annoying a follower due to your multiple posts.
2. Layout. Layout, Instagram’s collage app, will take these images and collapse them into one image.
Open Layout while you’re in the Instagram platform and you’ll find previews of custom layouts using images from your camera roll.
The Faces option selects images from your gallery that feature people.
From there, you can flip, rotate, zoom, and rearrange multiple photos in a creative canvas, all the while using Instagram’s image filters. It’s fun and, like Boomerang, easy to use.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.