Craig Newmark, Craigslist
In 1994, Craig was working at Charles Schwab evangelizing the Internet. It's an information-intensive business. He began to comment on arts and cultural events. His buddy Jim Buckmaster is the Webmaster. "We pretty much do one thing well. We prefer not to screw it up. I pretty much do full time customer service. I still do. "
Bought a year ago by the New York Times. Our audience is so different than
We're now about the 10th largest on the Internet in terms of business services. We're a distributed publishing network. We're also a technology company... we've developed search optimization and other technologies that are propagated around the company. I didn't start this business. About.com started as a human search company.. rebranded it as About.com to be a full-service portal. We retrenched as search took off.. We made all the people who were organizing content into journalists. and organize communities around those pieces of communities. We've got 600 sites today, each one captures. 60,000 topics. We have the biggest pregnancy site. We also have one on Tatoos, cats, etc. Help you find information and people who share the same interests...
Alexandra Samuel, Social Signal
My previous life was in politics and social science. We worked on on the internet--helping political organizations do grass roots outreach. There were limited ways to mobilize the passion. A couple of years ago, Web 2.0 tools made it easy to mobilize -- A community at the March of Dimes for parents with children who are in neonatal intensive care.
Alex: You have to connect with people who are passionate about your brands. The approach we use is "Reflective Glory Marketing".. create a community of something that people do feel passionate about. Example: You can Change Everything if you change your bank..Vancity credit ... let's you list all the things you'd like to change in your community... you can't sign up for a credit card there. You can declare what you care about in the community.
Craig: We are a community service to a degree. If you focus on being a community service, you tap into that human social need to connect and to help. Newspapers used to perceive itself as community services, which is important in a country that is trying to be democracies. But in recent years, they've focused on profit margins; they've fired investigative journalists. That's a mistake. There are now folks who are helping journalists get paid for doing investigative journalism. For example, what lobbyists are paying what congressmen for what legislation. It all comes down to community service and trust. It's an interesting observation that the most trusted name in journalism in Stephen Colbert and John Stewart.
Alex: Right, Colbert really gets 2.0.He lets his fans build and maintain the Colbert Nation web site and he just plays with them on it.
Scott: I Told the Boston Globe--guys here's the fundamental problem with traditional publishers, I just rented my vacation cottage on Craig's List. You need to decide what you're trying to achieve. If you're a news organization, you have to decide what you're trying to achieve. The NYTimes doesn't want citizen journalism. Lots of people talk about OhMyNews in South Korea. They have 12 or 15 editors, all the content is sent in from folks out in the field.
Craig: Companies should engage their communities to provide better customer service and to improve products. If you have customer company reps on discussion boards where they're helping customers solve problems and have company people visibly listening, to actually change the products and services. Provide discussion boards, engage your community thru them, take some chances. If someone says the wrong thing, it may haunt you, but it's worth the risk. We should also have internal discussion boards. The people on the front lines know a lot more about what's going on... Everyone tells their boss what they want to hear. Internal discussion boards offer the possibility of breaking the internal communication failure.
Scott: About is actually a pretty small organization... 600 people. A lot of our content is generated by contractors. They have their own internal discussion site to share what's going on. It's incredibly valuable. Talk about Control: We did things with NBC for the Olympics.. it's all about the Control of the Olympic Committee. We had a blog that allowed people to sound off about what wasn't working in the NBC coverage of the Olylmpics, which they wanted so they could get out from under that control.
What was your biggest mistake?:
Alexandra: Our first client was Telecentre.org--companies that provide internet access for communities. They had a big budget. Altho it was a technology-oriented community, they didn't want to spend money on technology; they wanted to spend money on people who would animate their community. That's been a really different decision to get clients to do. They had a ratio of 4 to 1--people vs. technology. You need to have at least 6 people staffing your initial site. It's hard to let go of control. What happens when people post something unpleasant.. When that first blog post goes up saying something nasty about your post.
Craig: In the middle of 2000, we started posting peoples' real email
addresses..It was a disaster. helped keep spam at bay.. people could
post an anonymous email address that we relayed to their real email
addresses. We recovered and followed thru.
Scott: biggest mistake--trying to use traditional business metrics
for measuring our success. The second one is when you try to engineer
the community. We didn't listen to our own guides. There's our team --
130 of us in NYC. There are 50 million people who interact with the 600
folks who are on the front line.. This is not a technology problem.
Not everybody has to be an employee but you need to find the people who
have the special sauce.