National Friends Day …and what it means to create a movement on social media

We’ve all heard it from the naysayers around this time of year: Valentine’s Day is just a silly holiday Hallmark made to increase consumerism. True? I’m not so sure about that (neither is history.com).

But today, I logged onto my Facebook like everyone else, and my Facebook was filled with #friendsday videos. As usual, people had mixed reactions to the holiday, even though Facebook allowed for folks to customize their videos if they didn’t like the original algorithm’s results.

Then, I learned that today actually isn’t National Friendship Day. That’s actually celebrated in August, and today is actually Facebook’s birthday! According to CBS News, Facebook decided to declare today Friends Day in honor of their birthday, to commemorate the friendships that have stayed strong because of Facebook. Not surprisingly, #friendsday was trending on Twitter for most of the day, according to a Mashable article. Even #DiaDelAmigo was popular on Twitter!

This leads me to a bigger question: what does it mean to create a movement on social media? Why are social media movements good? Are they created intentionally? What are the tangible benefits?

For some social media movements, the tangible benefits are money. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a great example of that: $115 million dollars raised in a few weeks during a social media viral movement in 2014.

ALS

For others, like KONY 2012, the goal was awareness. The website states, “Could an online video make an obscure war criminal famous? And if he was famous, would the world work together to stop him?” 100 million views in 6 days is a great accomplishment – I’d say that goal was achieved!

KONY

These are some of the obvious intentional goals. But what about the dress? Was there a purpose to that movement? Was there a benefit? [It’s blue and black, by the way.]

dress

But here’s my challenge for you. What are the benefits for Facebook of a nationally trending Twitter hashtag about a brand-new holiday they just created? Are there perks from the buzz they created? Why would an already-successful organization like Facebook use its currency just to create some video sharing, without any immediate monetary benefit?

I’ll let you share your guesses below. Now, your turn!

Beth Awalt, @eawalt01

co-founder of Starfish Foundation @starfishchange

Emerging Media Graduate Student

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