Craig Newmark is famous for his list. That would be Craigslist.

What I find interesting about Craigslist is its utilitarian aspect. The homepage is an overwhelming list of bright blue words on a drab gray background. It’s not “pretty” nor will you find shiny bells and whistles on the site. It’s just a bare bones incredibly powerful site.

But it has absolutely changed the way we search for products, services and offer products, services

The Customer is Top Priority

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, has an estimated net worth of more than US$ 1 billion, but still chooses to work in customer service at his company.

Stories like this restore our faith in business, and most importantly customer service.

Craig is engaged with his users to say the least. He tries to answer every email, tweet and phone call. He told me he has not heard the term “social CRM” -- but he’s doing it.

While Craigslist has received a lot of flack for prostitution scandals the site is still the gold standard for connecting people -- there will always be a handful of users who abuse a social business site like Craigslist. The better we understand the technology, and more importantly how people are using the technology, the stronger our business ecosystem becomes.

Social Business at SOCAP

Craig keynoted the SOCAP conference last week that focused largely on social business.

President of SOCAP, Matthew D’Uva told me,

For SOCAP, ‘social business’ means understanding the needs of your customer, putting those needs first -- whether it’s a particular cause or issue that is important to the customer -- and then engaging with customers based on their needs and/or interests.”

The lineup of speakers from the SOCAP focused on social media including brands like Ben & Jerry’s. D’Uva said, “Social media has become a major focus for SOCAP because it is a rapidly evolving channel for our members (customer care executives) to engage with their consumers.”

Craigslist was one of the biggest sites to show the change in consumer behavior. Brands need to take some cues from Craig in learning how to serve the social customer. Check out my interview with speaker Craig Newmark below.


Blake Landau: If there was one message you would like to send to the people of SOCAP and their businesses what would it be?

Craig Newmark: Treat people like you want to be treated.

BL: It is not every day one of the most infuential founders in the world decides to work in customer service -- how does being a customer service agent provide you a different perspective?

CN: For over fifteen years I've directly communicated with people in our community, and that keeps me focused on the grassroots. Nowadays I always look at things from the bottom up, and I don't think that was my prior perspective.

BL: Do you think more CEOs should have their hands in CRM?

CN: Yes. It could be done by someone very close to them, but I'm guessing.

BL: Have you heard of the term Social CRM? If yes, what do you think about its relevance today?

CN: Haven't heard.

BL: You have donated money to dedicated to keeping the internet free. What are your thoughts about the idea of "Free" as it relates to Facebook?

CN: I donated to them as an experiment in citizen journalism, and now focus more on citizen news curation, possible networks of fact checking and traditional journalism values.

BL: What is your involvement with the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS)?

CN: Mostly I've affirmed that they're on the right track to serve the country better, and also have helped get the word out.

BL: What is the legacy you would like to leave with Craigslist?

CN: Maybe just that we've helped tens of millions help each other.

BL: As the internet evolves, how do you think the use of Craigslist will change?

CN: I just don't know, but we're paying attention and are flexible.


For more on Craig of Craigslist you can follow him on Twitter.
Founded in 1973, SOCAP International represents a thriving global profession of best-in-class customer care experts across all industries. SOCAP is a member-driven organization committed to promoting customer care and customer engagement as a competitive advantage in business. The Association’s members include vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors of customer care and consumer affairs from top Fortune/Forbes 1000 companies as well as hundreds of business partner organizations. Visit for more information on SOCAP International.