craigconnects: Connecting the World for the Common Good

Craig's Blog

4 Twitter Tools That're the Real Deal



I tell folks that they should email me with social media posts to share with my networks because I believe in supporting good causes, and making an effort to give a voice to more people. Silos aren't effective in getting the job done, and social media's a great way to share your message.

My team and I test social networks and social media tools to see what's getting the job done, and here are 4 social media tools (that're free or pretty inexpensive) that might be worth checking out:

1. Twtpoll – Twtpoll is a social survey tool. You can use it for lots of different surveys. You can conduct hashtag surveys, where votes are sent via tweet using the hashtag. You can do simple polls, these are one-question surveys. You can choose to do multi-question surveys, or you can do a quiz, where you have a series of questions with correct answers.

twtpoll descrip

This one's not free, but it's just $7 per question. What would you poll your audience on?

2. Bluenod – Bluenod is a social graph that  gives you the global picture of any community related to a Twitter user or hashtag in map-form. You just enter a user or hashtag and can see a dynamic visualization of Twitter interactions. This tool allows you to filter based on  biggest influencers. You can even display the map on your site.


3. Topsy – Topsy's been called the Google of social media. It's a realtime search engine that indexes and ranks search results based upon the most influential conversations that folks are having every day about specific terms, topics, or pages. My team and I used Topsy to monitor the use of the hashtag #squirrels4good when we raised money for the National Wildlife Federation, for example. You can search everything or you can get more specific and look at links, tweets, photos, videos, or influencers.


4. TweetChat – TweetChat is a tool that lets you facilitate and monitor Tweet Chats and the use of hashtags. It's a great way to engage and expand your community. It's also an efficient way to highlight an issue. TweetChat has livetream feeds for each hashtag to let you participate in realtime.


What are you favorite tools for any social network? My team and I are always looking for new suggestions. Thanks!

6 Veterans Groups You Need to Know

Maybe seven years ago, I was at a lunch, sitting next to a guy from the Iraq & Afghanistan Vets of America (IAVA). Finally, it clicked. We really need to support regular people who gave up a lot to protect us, and that includes their families.


Now, I'm on the board of IAVA and Blue Star Families, and am involved with lots of vets and military families groups, including the Department of Veterans Affairs (I'm their official nerd-in-residence).

Here are 6 veterans groups that really have their boots on the ground giving back to veterans and their families (please note- this is just a small subset of the groups I support):

1. IAVA Their mission is to connect, unite and empower post-9/11 veterans. They address critical issues facing new veterans and their families, including mental health injuries, a stretched VA system, inadequate health care for women vets, and GI Bill educational benefits. They also provide valuable resources and empower veterans to connect with one another, fostering a strong and lasting community. Through education, advocacy, and community building, IAVA strives to create a country which honors and supports veterans of all generations.

2. Swords to Plowshares War causes wounds and suffering that last beyond the battlefield. Swords to Plowshares’ mission is to heal the wounds, to restore dignity, hope, and self-sufficiency to all veterans in need, and to prevent and end homelessness and poverty among veterans. They are committed to helping veterans break through the cultural, educational, psychological, and economic barriers they often face in their transition to the civilian world.

3. Bob Woodruff Foundation The Bob Woodruff Foundation works to ensure injured veterans and their families are thriving long after they return home. That’s why they find and fund innovative programs in communities where veterans, their families and caregivers live and work. That’s how they tackle the problems that can prevent our veterans from fulfilling their dreams for the next chapter of their lives.

4. Blue Star Families Blue Star Families was formed by a group of military spouses to create a platform where military family members can join with civilian communities and leaders to address the challenges of military life. Blue Star Families includes active duty, National Guard, Reserve, wounded, transitioning service members and their families from all ranks and services, as well as veterans and civilians who strongly support us.

They're committed to connecting military spouses to one another through the unique challenges of military service and asking the larger civilian population to help as well, strengthening military families regardless of rank, branch of service or physical location, and leading military family members towards opportunities to build strength in individuals, families and communities.

5. National Military Family Association The National Military Family Association is the “go to” source for Administration Officials, Members of Congress, and key decision makers when they want to understand the issues facing military families. Through the support and programs they provide, and their respected voice on Capitol Hill, at the Pentagon and Veterans Administration, the National Military Family Association is always looking out for the families who stand behind the uniform and for those who serve.

6. Department of Veterans Affairs The VA's mission is to fulfill President Lincoln's promise "To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan" by serving and honoring the men and women who are America's veterans.

The Dept of Veterans Affairs does a lot of different things for vets. Most of the workers are on the VA medical side, but there's also a group that processes benefits payments for vets. That's the Veterans Benefits Administration–VBA–and they work on over a million claims from vets each year. They work hard but get a lot of crap. So this extra thanks is for them…

Bottom line: if someone volunteers to risk taking a bullet to protect me, I should stand up and help out.

Who would you add to this list?

5 Nonprofits That Are Igniting Change

Folks, lots of nonprofits really have their boots on the ground doing good work, but my team and I wanted to highlight a few that have been on our radar lately.

ignite change

These nonprofits have been disruptors and changemakers, and deserve some recognition.

1. Blue Star Families – Blue Star Families was formed by a group of military spouses to create a platform where military family members can join with civilian communities and leaders to address the challenges of military life. Blue Star Families includes active duty, National Guard, Reserve, wounded, transitioning service members, and their families from all ranks and services, as well as veterans and civilians who strongly support their work.

They're currently asking that folks fill out their 2015 Blue Star Family Military Lifestyle Survey.  This survey's big for policymakers to help decide what is hype vs. what needs funding. Your voice is really important.

2. Donors Choose – Donors Choose is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from all over America post classroom project requests on the site, and you can give any amount to the project that most inspires you.

Public teachers are a great case, doing mission critical work for little recognition and less pay. Once in a while they find students they prize, who show real promise, and that can be rewarding. Otherwise, it can be a tough life, worse when you feel the need to pay out-of-pocket for needed supplies, like pens and paper, with low pay. Please help out if you're able.

3. Voto Latino – Voto Latino's a nonpartisan org that empowers Latino Millennials to claim a better future for themselves and their community. United by the belief that Latino issues are American issues and American issues are Latino issues, Voto Latino's dedicated to bringing new and diverse voices to develop leaders by engaging youth, media, technology, and celebrities to promote positive change.

4. Columbia Journalism Review – CJR is news regarding the evolution of news.

As a culture, we need to ensure that journalism fulfills its role as the heart of democracy and its mission of seeking truth and building trust. The press should be the immune system of democracy. Turns out that what we have now are a lot of ethics codes and policies, but very little accountability. This is something I often discuss when I talk about trustworthy journalism in a fact-checking-free world.

5. Organic Health Response – The Organic Health Response seeks to activate social solidarity, information technology, and environmental sustainability on Mfangano Island, in Kenya, to turn the tide against the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS. They support the people of Lake Victoria in cultivating a resilient, healthy, locally-directed future. They're also proof that tech can turn a community into a global village.

Folks, what nonprofits in your communities are having a real impact? Thanks!

4 Leadership Lessons I've Learned the Last 20 Years at craigslist

Folks, 20 years is a lot of time to make mistakes, fail fast, and learn some lessons about leadership. They don't teach you this at school.

Customer service is a big part of what inspires me; also consider that "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." (Martin Luther King Jr.)


Here's 4 leadership lessons I've learned over the last 20 years at craigslist, and over the last 30 years of my career:

1. The qualities that make the most effective leaders? This includes the capacity to listen and to act, to be restrained when useful, and to get outta the way when needed.

Sense of humor might be necessary (remember: salvation through comedy).

2. My biggest leadership challenge? It's been to recognize my limitations as a manager, and then relinquish my CEO role… I did this in 2000. A LOT of people still think I'm the CEO of craigslist, and it gets reinforced by inaccurate articles that persist on the 'net. Note: This is why I haven't had any role craigslist in management in 15 years.

3. The best leadership advice I've received? To use my sense of humor, while recognizing that I'm not as funny as I think I am.

4. What I wish I'd known starting out that I know now? That I should see things as they are, and avoid denial. This means taking charge of your brand, too.

What are the most valuable leadership lesson you've learned? And did it take learning it the hard way for it to sink in?

Giving Back to Vets: When Their Service Ends, Ours Begins

Folks, you might remember that I started an Indiegogo Life fundraiser to support Swords to Plowshares, veteran and Bay Area hero Starlyn Lara, and women veterans. Our goal was to raise $2,000 to pay for job readiness training, job placement, and mentorship activities for women veterans in the Bay Area with the Women Veterans Professional Network (WVPN).


Good news: In less than a month, we surpassed our goal. With everyone's support, we raised more than $2,000, and like I said, I matched every dollar up to $1,000. This means, with my contribution, we've raised over $3,000 so far. This is in addition to much larger contributions to Swords, and other vets' orgs. It's not altruistic, it just feels right – If someone volunteers to risk taking a bullet to protect me, I should stand up and help out.

How will the money raised be distributed?

It'll go toward supporting the 80 women currently enrolled in the WVPN, provide them with a mentor associated with their personal and professional goals, and bring them together for in-person professional development sessions.

It'll help provide eventual placement for 40 women from the WVPN with Employment and Training case managers at Swords to Plowshares.

Thanks for all you've done, and let's continue supporting vets and milfams.