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How TikTok And Skater Girls Are Sending Skateboard Sales Off The Wall

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My orange skateboard was plastered in peeling stickers and a dark layer of dust when I found it in my childhood bedroom last May. I hadn’t touched it in seven years, but it called to me at that moment. I needed to get out of the house, have fun, even feel the thrill of a different kind of danger — one that had nothing to do with a virus. My 25-year-old sister, Frances, needed it, too. We stepped on our boards, pushed off, and in the air between the rushing pavement below us and the sunset sky above, we were absolutely free.

A lot of people were craving that feeling in 2020.

“Skateboarding saw a growth in sales like it hadn’t seen in years,” says Jeff Kendall, who skated professionally and is now president and Chief Marketing Officer of NHS Inc., a top skateboard manufacturer and distributor.

Companies like his have spent the past year scrambling to meet a monstrous appetite for parts and boards. For a while there, with so many skaters out on the streets, there was actually a skateboard shortage at shops, just like with bikes. According to Action Watch, a data provider for the skate and surf industries, sales of skateboarding equipment in the U.S. had increased 118% by last June alone, compared with a year earlier.

Kendall credits skateboarding’s booming popularity to a few things: The pandemic led people to rediscover the outdoors. Meanwhile, social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are bringing greater visibility and representation to skateboarding. And to top it off, the Olympics are including it as a sport for the first time this summer. All of these planets have aligned, Kendall says, to fuel what might be the strongest demand the global skateboarding industry has ever seen. The market was valued at $1.9 billion in 2018. Before the pandemic hit, it was projected to reach $2.4 billion by 2025. Now, it’s likely to grow even more.

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“This is something we’re seeing all around the 80 countries that we sell to in the world,” Kendall says. “I think that by the end of 2021, there’ll be more skateboarders in the world than ever before.”

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The rise of the skater girl

Girls are helping usher in skateboarding’s revival. Kendall says there are more female skateboarders now than he’s seen in his more than 35 years in the industry.

Latosha Stone is one of them. In 2013, she started her own skate brand, Proper Gnar, in her hometown of Greenville, Ohio, where she designs and produces skateboards and clothing for girls and young women.

She says her business was always more of a hobby until the skate boom of 2020 allowed her to make it a full-time job. It didn’t hurt that on Juneteenth, Beyonce’s website included Proper Gnar in a directory of Black-owned businesses.

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“That was super insane,” Stone says. “It still feels weird talking about it. Like, Beyonce knows that I exist.”

Today her company counts more than 77,000 Instagram followers, and she says social media has helped inspire girls and women to pick up skateboards.

“You get on social media — you see all different kinds of people skating. You see women, you see LGBTQ people,” Stone says. “I’m really stoked for this upcoming generation. They’re not going to have to deal with growing up and being a skater and you’re the only one that looks like you out there, you know?”

Skaters find community through ‘SkateTok’ videos

Ruby Medina says she hears customers talking about what they’ve seen on social media when they come into her family’s two skate shops in Venice, Calif. Her parents started the business more than two decades ago after immigrating from Mexico and El Salvador, but these social media users are driving demand like never before.

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A while back, Medina’s friend showed her what was going down on TikTok — thousands of users were posting videos of themselves skating around town or landing tricks. A burgeoning online community affectionately referred to as “SkateTok” had emerged.

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Medina joined in, posting a video of herself at a beachfront skatepark. It now has more than half-a-million views.

“Honestly, I was pretty shocked,” Medina says.

Videos like these aren’t just driving demand. They’re changing the game.

“When I was younger, skateboarding was what the bad kids did. It was a way to rebel,” Stone of Proper Gnar says. “Now it’s more accepted.”

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That skateboarding will be in the Olympics for the first time this year is another sign — or perhaps symptom, depending on how you feel about it — of the changing times.

The TikTok that swept the world

But, even without the camera crews of a global event, there’s one short video that may be the most memorable of all.

Last September, Nathan Apodaca, a 37-year-old dad known as “Dogface” (after his TikTok handle, @420doggface208) posted a video of himself on the platform. It shows him skating down a highway, vibing to Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 hit “Dreams,” swigging Ocean Spray cran-raspberry juice right out of the 64-ounce bottle.

The TikTok video, which people have seen more than 80 million times, sent the song back to the top of the charts and cranberry juice flying off of the shelves. At Medina’s shops, it moved boards, too. She says she’d hear people chattering about Dogface, wanting to buy a longboard so they could be like him.

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“Just to see someone enjoying themselves so much on a board, it makes people realize that this is actually fun, this is actually cool, and it makes people like — I’m going to go skate, I’m going to go cruise,” Medina says.

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I know the feeling. Skateboarding is the one thing that’s made me feel totally alive during the daily nothingness of coronavirus lockdowns. That first afternoon with my sister last spring, I wiped the stickers and dust from my board, calling it up to a second life. Its sunset-orange color was brilliant again, and its soft yellow wheels carried me into a state of mind I hadn’t known in years.

On the sidewalk that day, a neighbor walked by and shouted over the grind of our skateboards, “Do you feel like kids again?”

My answer was an emphatic “Yes.”

Editor’s note: TikTok helps fund NPR-produced videos from Planet Money that appear on the social media platform. Google, which owns YouTube, and Facebook, which owns Instagram, are among NPR’s recent financial supporters.

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Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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