Thanksgiving is a time when we all pause to reflect on the people, places and things that have brought joy to our lives. If “Social Media” doesn’t come to mind when recounting your list, I ask that you keep reading. Perhaps you’ll be squeezing it in before the month is out.
Here are my Top 10 Reasons to be Thankful for Social Media
10. Foursquare Tips: Why spend twenty minutes perusing a restaurant menu in search of something that sounds appealing. Now I can check-in on Foursquare and discover the clever kernels of information other patrons have left behind in the tips section. How else would I be brave enough to try bone marrow and beef tongue if the Travel Channel hadn’t advised, “you won’t be disappointed.” I’m always thankful for good advice.
9. Hashtags: Except for hash browns I admit I’m pretty sheltered when it comes to anything relating to hash. But I have come to be thankful for the space-saving features of the hashtag. It is extremely useful on Twitter for following a topic of interest. And it’s so efficient. Just add the pound sign and drop all spaces and punctuation. Makes you wonder, #whydontwewritelikethisallthetime?
8. Instagram Filters: I never knew how much I missed those rounded-corner square photos of my childhood until I discovered Instagram. Rather than capitalize on the saturation of high-definition color reflected on my iPhone’s retina display, it’s great to see the design trends are opting for the red-orange cast and faded color that channel technology of yesteryear. Now that’s progress. So when it comes to Instagram I’m thankful I have the ability to choose.
7. Followers: Social media just seems to call on the stalker tendencies in everyone. Not in a creepy ‘restraining order’ kind of way. More like an ego-boosting, pseudo celebrity fan club. On Facebook our contacts must go through a screening process, apply and be accepted into the inner circle otherwise known as Friend. Whereas Twitter turns everyone into a voyeur. I can follow whomever I like, listen to their conversations, and chime in I want to. And followers are a great source of information, feedback and ideas. Thanks to a network of friends and followers I’ll never be lonely. When I’m frustrated or elated I know there’s always a listening ear. And if I’m constipated I promise to keep it to myself.
6. YouTube Instructions: While most people are devouring videos of dogs on skateboards and lipdubs (or at least the handful that remain after claims of copyright violation,) I’m searching YouTube for how-to videos. When I want to master a new technique in Photoshop or unlock the secret to the perfect pom-pom bow for my Christmas packages, I know I can find it on YouTube. Well, truth be told, my mom taught me the secret to the perfect pom-pom bow. But we logged on together to learn how to make ribbon roses this year. So watch out Santa, we’re upping our game.
5. LinkedIn Connections: Forget six degrees of separation. I’m pretty sure the LinkedIn algorithm can find a way to make me a 2nd degree contact with Kevin Bacon. In fact, I think I’ll keep connecting with people until he shows up in that list. And when I make that connection I’m going to endorse him for Skills and Expertise of inspiring the six degrees in the first place. So, which one of you knows Kevin? Find me on LinkedIn and add me to your professional network so we can get this party started.
4. Klout: I am thankful there is finally a website out there handing out Klout. Here I am, working hard to become an expert in my field. I teach people how to improve their design skills and take a creative approach to marketing. I also work in the tourism industry to promote the people, places and businesses in my northern Michigan hometown. But according to Klout I am influential on the topics of Bill Cosby, Shoes and Money. Hey, I’m just grateful my influence has any Klout at all.
3. Power to Pin it: I don’t know what I did before Pinterest. Well actually I do. I had manila office folders bursting at the seams filled with pages torn from magazines, notes to self, cocktail napkins with crude Sharpie sketches, brochures, maps and photographs all squirreled away for future reference. In fact, it’s not fair to say that in the past tense. I still have them. But it’s been a decade since I opened the rusty file cabinet for a scan. Once an idea hoarder, always an idea hoarder. Thanks to Pinterest I can pin productively. And I will actually cook that crockpot cake, and make owl crafts from my toilet paper tubes. I swear I will.
2. Sharing: It’s true. Everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten. Take sharing for example. From link shorteners like bit.ly to the ShareThis widget, nobody makes it easier to share than social media. I’m thankful for Instagram because they make it so easy. I snap a photo with my iPhone of a scrumptious dish at my favorite local hotspot. In three taps I can share it on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Suddenly I’ve started 4 conversations about tacos. And who doesn’t doesn’t love tacos? They lead to margaritas.
1. Status Updates: The number one reason I’m thankful for social media is the status update. The posts and tweets I scan on a daily basis connect me with family and friends in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Thanks to Facebook I know I’ll see photos of my niece’s baby before my mother even hears she was born. When snowmageddon arrived last March and our entire community was searching for news on when the power would return, or whether the roads were clear in town, I relied on Twitter to find the answers. I know more about local and world events thanks to the articles and links streaming through my feed on Tweetdeck. Social networking has redefined how I stay in touch with long lost friends and introduce myself to new business contacts.
So there you have it. My top 10 reasons to be thankful for social media. The long and short of it is, social media reminds me that life is about connections — creating them and maintaining them. I hope you’ll practice your social skills and find some reason to connect this holiday season.