Golden deep-fried turkeys. Sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows. Brightly colored cranberry sauce. Sounds like a pretty good Thanksgiving Day spread, right? Well, it also sounds very similar to my Instagram feed all day yesterday.
As Thanksgiving and Hanukkah aligned for the first time in over a century, families gathered together and documented the occasion the digital way – with Instagram uploads of friends, family and of course, food.
Apparently it wasn’t just my Instagram feed that was overwhelmed with images yesterday, as the company announced in a blog post today that Thursday was the busiest day in the social network’s history. Holidays have a once-in-a-lifetime collision and social networks reach record numbers? If that is not a sign of our digital times - I don’t know what is.
Unlike waiting for another Thanksgiving and Hanukah to cross paths, I don’t think it will take a few thousands years for Instagram to again reach record numbers. The social network, which has only been around for 3 years, has grown immensely in that time, currently boasting over 150 million active users around the world.
While Instagram didn’t provide specifics on the number of uploads it received yesterday, this was the second year in a row that Thanksgiving set the record for number of posts. Last year, the company said more than 10 million photos related to Thanksgiving were posted and for several hours during the day photos were uploaded at a rate of more than 200 per second. With this year’s steep increase in users and added video capabilities, we can bet that last year’s numbers were easily trumped.
Did you help Instagram set their record yesterday? While I am late to the Instagram game – only having joined within the last 6 months – I couldn’t help but document a few fun moments from yesterday on the network.
Now that Thanksgiving is over and we can all start looking forward to Christmas, I thought I’d take a minute to look back on the Thanksgiving shopping hoopla.
If you’ve been living anywhere with access to wifi you’ve probably been seeing ads for holiday sales since before Halloween. While millennials might be okay with Black Friday taking over the weekend and expanding in to Thanksgiving Day, most adults aren’t excited about the rush towards yuletide spirit.
A recent survey by Harris Interactive of 2,038 shoppers 18 and older found that 81% of adults think stores shouldn’t play Christmas music before Thanksgiving and 77% think stores shouldn’t be decorated for the holidays until after Thanksgiving.
The ‘Christmas Creep’ has been controversial for years, but this year the PR battle between opening stores and staying closed for the holiday has taken over the media. Today several retail giants have been carrying out proactive PR plans to defend the decision to open on Thanksgiving Day.
This morning Walmart’s US CEO Bill Simon made the round of morning talk shows to discuss the retailer’s rationale for opening their doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Almost simultaneously, Walmart distibuted a press release stating that their stores had a record breaking Thanksgiving Day with 10 million cash register transactions between 6pm and 10 pm Thursday evening alone.
In the release, Simon described Black Friday as the “Superbowl of retail.” He went on to say, “We ran a play that only Walmart could deliver and our customers loved it.”
While customers may have loved slashed prices, social media suggests that they may have loved the viral entertainment more. The record number of shoppers yesterday evening sparked a hash tag “#WalmartFights” where twitter users across the country tweeted and posted photos and videos about the injuries, fights, and arrests in the first few hours of true holiday shopping.
Additionally, workers groups and union activists across the country have lodged protests against many of the big box stores, but Walmart, the largest private employer in the US, has attracted the bulk of the attention.
The overwhelming financial success of Walmart’s Thursday opening may look incredible on paper but the question for retailers remains, is it worth the PR fight?
Other major retailers like Costco and Nordstrom refused to open their doors on Thanksgiving day, claiming that the decision to stay closed and let employees spend time with family is an easy one to make.
So tell us, did you rush out to the big box stores to shop after Thanksgiving dinner? Did you post something hilarious with the hash tag #WalmartFights? Do you believe that stores should let the holiday be a holiday? We’d love to hear your take on Black Friday’s creep in to Thanksgiving Day.
So, it’s already December 18th, and I’ve only received three Christmas cards. I thought that maybe it was because all of my friends had newborns last year and didn’t feel the need to resend photos of their children dressed in Santa hats. That, or dogs everywhere were protesting the wearing of those cute little reindeer antlers owners love to attach to their heads in the family photo. Or, perhaps people just don’t have anything to share with me that they don’t share on a regular basis thanks to social media. That’s what Time blogger Nina Burleigh suggests in her latest post “Why I’ve Stopped Sending Holiday Photo Cards.” Is technology killing the Christmas card? I think that might just be the case.
As Burleigh states, “we already have real-time windows into the lives of people thousands of miles away. We already know exactly how they’ve fared in the past year, much more than could possibly be conveyed by any single Christmas card. If a child or grandchild has been born to a former colleague or high school chum living across the continent, not only did I see it within hours on Shutterfly or Instagram or Facebook, I might have seen him or her take his or her first steps on YouTube. If a job was gotten or lost, a marriage made or ended, we have already witnessed the woe and joy of it on Facebook, email and Twitter.”
She’s so right – I knew the second your sweet bundle of joy was born along with how much he/she weighed, name, height and their new Twitter handle, photo, etc., so why would I need you to show me again in a Christmas card? I know where my friends are going for Christmas, when they’re heading out of town, and whether or not they’re in the holiday spirit, all from their social media accounts. Although I have respect for a hand-written note, I’m actually OK with the declining rate at which I’m receiving Christmas cards. Then again, I’m also a fan of technology and saving some trees. Not to mention, if you send me something electronic, I’ll most likely have it for a longer period of time. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a complete Grinch, and I sincerely appreciate the cards I do receive. I’m just saying that I understand the decline, and I’m OK with it. And, it doesn’t seem like I’m the only one seeing this trend.
Also, if you’re looking for other ways technology can help bring you cheer this year, be sure to check out the following Holiday Apps!
As the spouse of a veteran, I have always felt that the Veteran’s Day holiday is an important time to pay tribute to those who have served our country. Perhaps I’m a bit biased, since I understand the trials and tribulations associated with those who dedicate their time and effort to assuring our freedom and safety, but also the difficulties experienced by members of their families who are left behind to hold down the home front.
I also have a great appreciation for organizations that provide services to our troops, vets and their families, and that is why this year’s Veteran’s Day was so great. This year, I had the privilege of being part of the SpeakerBox team that helped launch Troop ID.
Many of you may be familiar with TroopSwap, the online e-commerce discount site for service members and veterans. Recently, Blake Hall and Matt Thompson (who happen to be retired Army Rangers) have launched a new technology for authenticating veteran and active duty military identities so that they can receive online discounts from vendors
that already provide those discounts in their brick-and-mortar facilities. Several large brands, including Under Armour (NYSE: UA), are launching merchant partnerships with Troop ID in conjunction with the announcement. Troop ID verification can be found on UA's desktop site first, then will expanding to mobile site in the coming weeks. Startup America has also endorsed Troop ID as a best practice for its regions as a means to gate identity for veteran-centric events.
I can attest that this is a much-appreciated technology, especially now that so much of modern commerce takes place online. And, now, soldiers can actually take advantage of these discounts while deployed overseas, as well. In the official release, Troop ID Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Blake Hall described the verification widget as the means to ultimately bridge the long-standing civilian/military divide: "Without a way to verify military credentials, brands are unable to deliver discounts to service members and veterans online. Troop ID solves that problem. On the surface, it looks like we are allowing brands to give service members discounts online, but what we are really doing is letting service members and veterans know that Americans care."
So if you’ll pardon a little bit of chest thumping, we were quite enthusiastic to share the success to date for the launch, which officially took place on Tuesday, November 13. Several local DC media along with national retail publications wrote about the news, which can be found here: Washington Post, Washington Business Journal, InTheCapital, Tech Cocktail. Tech Bisnow, Daily Deal, Internet Retailer, PotomacTech Wire and USMC Life.
And, if you know any active-duty military or veterans, be sure to let them know about this new offering so they can take advantage of it this holiday season!