All Articles Marketing Brands & Campaigns Live from TWTRCON ’09: Craig Newmark on the power of real time communities

Live from TWTRCON ’09: Craig Newmark on the power of real time communities

4 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Today’s keynote at TWTRCON DC was an interview of Craig Newmark of Craigslist by Alan Murray from The Wall Street Journal. Like Twitter itself and everything at the conference (the TWTRCON “program” is, literally a bookmark), it was short and sweet. Since that’s SmartBrief’s mission too (we aim to save you time, keep you smart), let me summarize/paraphrase:

Why do people follow you @craignewmark?  Where’s the social value of the broadcast of the view outside your window?

There are a lot of people out there doing cool things and I spotlight them on Twitter. is a great example of how the Internet helps people work together better; it’s a social network where people can contribute bits of money to get projects done. And why are the random, personal observations I tweet valuable?  “I find them amusing and frankly as a human male, that’s all it takes.”  Twitter indulges my sense of humor.

Examples of social media projects you admire/support to make government better?

A lot of agencies like the Pentagon are using innovation sites where the rank and file can propose solutions.  17 yrs at IBM taught me the value of this kind of idea sourcing to create change and call management attention to a broad range of voices. The State Dept. under Hilary Clinton’s leadership is a remarkably good example of effective implementation of public diplomacy and social media.  Internally, they’ve renovated their intranet so staffers can reach out to each other through social nets.  Externally, they are reaching out to social media platforms when necessary, asking Twitter not to do maintenance while important world events are going on. The State Department is also working on funding social networking in the Arab/Islamic world.

Should the White house have its own publishing channel?   Should the Obama administration be talking back to Fox News?

We all need our own publishing channel.  Not only should the White House have its own blog, but everyone should. This White House is being more open and honest than anyone in history.  This deserves our attention.

Is the hard part getting the feedback or responding to it?

In terms of customer service – what I build my career on – the keys are to:

  • Treat people the way you want to be treated
  • Keep in mind that there are a lot of voices out there (including trolls who want to get attention and pick fights to promote their own stuff).
  • Give everyone a chance.  To this end, we are working on discussion board software to vote up the good stuff, and vote down (thereby get rid of) the bad stuff.

What do you say to people who have said you have ruined newspapers?

Trust is the new black.  With important stories about the oncoming financial crisis having been buried, the newspapers have lost public trust.  I get my news from professional outlets (NYT, New York Observer) and from friends I trust on Twitter.  This idea of curating news is changing things and newspapers need to figure out how to work together with the public to restore trust.

Can you respond to the recent Wired magazine article “Why Craigslist is Such a Mess”?

(Its thesis is that Craigslist is not as good as it should be because there are no profits to compete for – so no one competes.)

Our goal is to keep the service fast and effective. Community and feedback comes before design.  That’s what has worked for us.

We run Craigslist as a serious business and a public service.  After you provide for your family, it’s more satisfying to change things.  (For Craig’s latest change creating passion, check out his post-session blog post)

What do you think about yesterday’s news about the integration of Twitter and FaceBook into Bing search?

It’s inevitable – and mostly a good thing.

Image credit, FugeSpot via iStock