Note to regular Bright Eyes News readers: I know that the subject of social media and Foursquare Day is a significant departure from the usual topics of eye care news and vision therapy. However, this last week has been such an interesting experience and started at Bright Eyes and I hope you don't mind another post.... -Dr. Nate.
I have had the most amazing week! I have been meeting amazing people, working like crazy, and this morning am reading an article in the St. Pete Times about me. It is quite surreal, I must say.
Why all the excitement? Well, it appears that I had an idea that has lead, through a chain of events involving a lot of hard work by Tampa Bay people, to the creation of Foursquare Day: the first global social media holiday.
But now that Foursquare Day is getting attention beyond the social media crowd (the Twitteratti, as I call them), I am getting a lot of people saying some variation of, "Hey Dr. Nate, Foursquare Day sounds really cool. I just don't think I understand it." So the point of this post is to explain my take on this new phenomenon.
Foursquare Day began as a fun way to recognize the company foursquare on April 16 each year. Foursquare is a very fun application that has the potential to enrich the life of both users and local businesses like mine. To participate, all you have to do is go to any place on April 16 where people can gather and let the world know you are there via foursquare. It is that simple.
However, as the Foursquare Day project grew, I began to think about what I was experiencing. Although I have blogged here and elsewhere for years, used Twitter and Facebook very successfully to promote Bright Eyes and create actual, real-life relationships with people, I have never experienced the raw power that social media has to literally change the world, until now. And that has become what Foursquare Day means to me.
To the best of my knowledge, and I am certain that someone will correct me if I am wrong, Foursquare Day is the first globally recognized grass-roots celebration of the power of social media as a positive force within the community.
Let's take a look at some of the pieces of that statement:
"first" - I think. A Google search showed lots of great Geek Holidays, but none specifically about social media, and just how social media influenced holiday shopping. Again, please tell me if I am wrong.
"globally recognized" - From the Foursquare Day Swarm HQ, from the Hyatt in downtown Tampa, we will be video conferencing with people celebrating social media from every continent, except Antarctica. (If someone can swing that, I'll buy you lunch!)
"Grass-roots" - It is important to note that foursquare did not start this movement, nor did they buy it. It started in Tampa and has only succeeded through the very hard work of too many people to name here. Like much of the social media activity, this is being done by people purely because it is cool for them.
"power of social media" - The ability to not just chat on Facebook and Twitter (which is important), but to use wikis, Skype and other communication tools is unparalleled to any time in human history. Not only can we do these things, but we can do them ANYWHERE - coffee shops, our bed, a park. (But not while driving, for our own safety).
"Positive affect on the community" - Like any tool, social media can be used for good or evil. But I am convinced that the overwhelming use of social media is for the betterment of individuals and communities. Not only can we develop strong, permanent relationships with people both locally and globally as well as support local, independent businesses and non-profits, we can use social media to support wonderful causes. One issue that I am passionate about is the development of children's vision to help them reach their potential. Two social media examples that help people understand what I do is the COVD blog and this grass-roots Facebook page.
So Tampa and everyone else, even if you don't use foursquare, please come down to the Hyatt to swarm with us for Foursquare Day on April 16 in celebration of social media. Bright Eyes is the primary sponsor, and it will be the biggest party we've EVER held!
And, of course, I wouldn't be a businessman if I didn't mention that you can check in at Bright Eyes on April 16 and save 50% (yes, half), on all glasses and sunglasses. Read more here and tell every one you know. You will never see a deal like this again. I am certain of it. :)
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.