Social Media Inspiration with Craig Newmark

TYO likes to be active on all fronts, from the ground in Palestine to the world wide web! To get some advice on social media practices and how we can best apply it to philanthropy in Palestine, we sat down with Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and craigconnects, to get some ideas.

1.  Social media is a tool for connection and mobilization, from craigslist to the tweeters of the Arab Spring. How do you see social media changing the course of today’s society?

I see large numbers of people of good will finding each other via social  media, then working together for shared ideas of the common good. Depending on the culture that might mean working together on elections, or hitting the street together.

2.  What types of messages and ideas go "viral"? What does it take?

I don't think anyone knows.  The message has to be one that people are almost ready to accept; there needs to be an incipient tipping point.

3.  What inspires you most about social media?

That it can work to make life easier for so many.  It worked with Martin Luther and Gutenberg, and worked with Ben Franklin, Tom Paine and others.

4.  What’s the relationship between social media and philanthropy?

Social media can make philanthropy more effective through better outreach, and the superior acquisition of resources.  Social media can be the means by which a philanthropic groups finds and helps a client population.

5.  We know you had a recent twitter campaign to support the common squirrel. Do you feel that twitter was an effective method to spread the word? Do you feel that it helped generate support? Do you feel you've made progress for the cause, and that Twitter has played a role?

This was an experiment in social media with matching funds, to raise funds for the National Wildlife Federation. Sometimes you need someone doing something real with real resources, they need "skin in the game," probably cash.  (That expression might not translate.)  In any case, it got some attention from people, but didn't explode virally. We'll keep trying.

Craig Newmark is the founder of craigslist and craigconnects.