No one can be sure what parent first uttered the phrase "Every day is Kids Day," but generations later, we still find it amusing. During my childhood, when May would roll around, I would see the gifts and love (deservedly!!!) lavished on my mom each Mother's Day and wonder when it would be my turn. I was stunned to learn that "Kids Day" had yet to be declared. How could this be? My mother dispelled all such notions with a smirk and that simple refrain, ending the discussion for at least another year
"Every day is kids day." A phrase that represented a grave injustice now makes perfect sense. I now understand from firsthand experience that the duties of a parent are infinite and constant. Neglecting that primary role is never an option because of the potential consequences. Once you've made the commitment, there's no looking back. Every day is indeed Kids Day. I have scaled back my own expectations of my own two sons.
These memories were unlocked recently when a peer asked innocently how I planned to celebrate "Social Media Week." The parallels suddenly coalesced. I wonder if I smirked as I reflexively replied, "Every week is social media week."
I might as well as have said, "Bah Humbug." The look of disappointment on my colleague's face was profound. Not the answer she was expecting from a social media marketing strategist, I suspect. I was tempted to ask what she felt might be appropriate. Party hats and streamers? Do we exchange gifts? Send a card to Mark Zuckerberg? When you care enough to send a tweet or text...
Social Media Week? What exactly are we celebrating? And who is celebrating? Most people don't know about this holiday. I don't remember ever stopping to mark "Word Processor Day" when Wang was the hottest "fad." And, if there was ever a "Telegraph Day," my history teachers skipped over it. My indifference to Social Media Week is apparently shared by the general public, despite a growing affinity for digital communication across all generations. To me, social media is still not mainstream and, so what is there to celebrate? I will celebrate when the annual "Social Media" parade marches down Fifth Avenue in New York City, and spills over onto the sidewalks with enthusiasm, rivaling the St. Patrick's Day parade.
In actuality, my aversion to "Social Media Week" is a bit more complicated and existential. If social media zealots are speaking only to other social media zealots, especially in a corporate context, what have we really accomplished? The "Social Media Week" mentality is a really symptom of a larger problem. Most organizations still view social media as something that can be compartmentalized, when success requires consistency and collaboration. The "social media department" is a place of isolation in many firms. This is especially true of my field, financial services. Maybe I would celebrate if Wall Street continued down the road toward greater adoption, including less fear of the "new" and embraced even a small portion of the opportunity for online platforms for all people, and instead of one siloed department.
In case you did not know, "Social Media Week" is a global phenomenon. And what a difference a geography can make. Last year, I happened to be in Hong Kong for Social Media Week 2012. It's a digital party every day over there, with WiFi on public buses, and over 100 percent mobile adoption rate. It was startling to learn just how dramatically the U.S. is lagging in regard to technological infrastructure and overall adoption. However, most Asian emerging economies have grown up with these innovations. Using digital technologies -- and strategies -- is second nature. There is nothing to "celebrate" when it's a cultural phenomenon. Practically everyone in Asia is wired and using social media channels.
So this year, I will put away my hats, noisemakers, Twitter-blue decorated cupcakes, and other celebratory items, and go back to my work. I hope that I can make a difference in helping Wall St become Facebook friends with social media. Hey, that would be something to celebrate!