The powers that be decided to reserve today as Social Media Day. But in this day and age, one could make the argument that Social Media Day falls on every day of the week that ends in “y.” But with today’s official designation, I have an internal voice asking me what has social media meant to you?
The answer is A LOT.
Rewind the clock 15 years to a time when I didn’t even know what social media was. To think that I would one day make a career out of it was understandably preposterous. If you fast forward a couple years from that age of ignorance, you would find a sophomore in college debating whether to embrace The Facebook or not. It actually took a lot of encouragement from others to set up a profile but once I did I guess that was my initial foray into a new communication enterprise that would transform the world we live in.
Although I didn’t enter the professional world because of my social media savviness, it didn’t take long before I was working with it extensively. After I graduated college, I landed a marketing position within the athletic department at the University of Montana. About a year into that first job, our athletic director decided to place a major focus on social media and asked me to lead the efforts. Building our athletics social media presence was a blast and I became intoxicated with the idea of building an audience and developing community.
When offered the opportunity to take my higher education career from an athletic department to a central marketing/communications office, I couldn’t pass it up. Social media brought me to sunny Myrtle Beach where I worked at Coastal Carolina University for nearly six years in the Office of University Marketing and Communication. It then brought me back to the western part of the country when I accepted the social media strategist position at Washington State University.
I have literally made my living with social media. What greater testament to “what has social media meant to you” than that? Despite it paying the bills, I also admire how it has evolved. I have watched social media go from status updates and photo albums to augmented reality and challenge videos. I have watched it go from a “free” PR model to a multi-billion-dollar advertising juggernaut. I have watched it start as something that was measured simply by likes and followers to something that is now evaluated by complex analytics and ROI.
Social media has led to the rise of influencers, the phenomenon of viral moments, and the scorn of digital fails. It has caught people and brands at their best and at their worst. It has chronicled historic moments, introduced countless words into our vocabulary, and launched movements. It has held people accountable while at the same time serving as a sounding board for those spewing hate. It has united and divided.
Throughout the good, the bad, and the ugly I have watched the proliferation of social media both through the lens of a professional in the industry and as an average user. It has been a crazy and unpredictable ride. On Social Media Day 2020, I am very appreciative for this powerhouse communication medium that has provided for my family and given me more inspiration than I could have ever imagined. Don’t Blink.