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Kristofize: Social birthday present for Nick Kristof aims to do good

Fans of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist are using social media to celebrate his birthday -- and to bring attention to some good causes.

Getting Kristofized: The extra "of" is an accidental tribute to Nick Kristof.
Sree Sreenivasan

Dear Friends (the real kind and social media kind):

Let's Kristofize! (Or Kristofise, if you prefer the British version of this made-up word.)

Nick Kristof (@NickKristof), the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times columnist (he was a finalist this year, too -- but hey, they need to spread the wealth) is someone who uses his talents and platform to make a real difference in the lives of people around the world.

Whether he's saving girls from brothels in Cambodia, bringing attention to the troubles in Darfur, or talking about the environment in a serious-yet-accessible way, Kristof has done more than any journalist in memory to prod, cajole -- and, yes, scare -- us into helping "change the world" (as he told Willamette University students on Monday in his home state of Oregon).

Kristof's Twitter profile photo

Along the way, he's creating a new kind of journalism by using social media tools to tells stories, to amplify his reporting, and to connect with his audience (which includes 1,248,800+ followers on Twitter and 446,000+ connections on Facebook, 4,110+ subscribers on YouTube,, and millions of readers of his twice-a-week NYT column and "On the Ground" blog).

His birthday is this Friday, April 27, and those of us who are his fans and readers can use social media to do what Kristof would do: use his birthday as an occasion to get some attention to the causes he cares about. Except, in this case, he has no idea ahead of time that we are doing this.

So, here's the deal:

See the main photo above. It's my accidental tribute to Kristof (thanks to a printing error at an event I spoke at) and we can use it to inspire a simple global tribute to him, using Twitter and Facebook.

ON TWITTER: We'll change our full names on Twitter by adding "of" to the end of them (not our handles or usernames, which are too complicated to change).

Starting on Thursday (or anytime before Saturday your local time), please change your Twitter FULL NAME (not your handle/username) by adding "of" at the end of your last name. If your last name already has an "of" on it, add another at the end.

How to do this:

a. Log in to Twitter.com and visit your SETTINGS page from the dropdown menu in the top right corner.

b. On the left, find PROFILE tab or go directly to https://twitter.com/settings/profile

c. Under NAME, add an "of" to your name. There's a limit of 20 characters in that field, so you may need to play around with it. The main thing is to get the "of" into the end of your last name.

d. Click SAVE CHANGES at the bottom of the page.

e. Leave it like that through Saturday or Sunday your time, please. And then you can switch back. Why not do this on just his actual birthday, Friday? Because, like Kristof himself, this is a global project and time zones make things hard to pin down. Also, as you know from Facebook birthdays, the exact date is less important than wishing someone around his or her birthday.

f. Tweet about this with #NickKristof + @nickkristof and a specific link to this post, http://bit.ly/kristofize

SAMPLE TWEETS: In honor of @NickKristof's birthday, I added an "of" to my full name on Twitter. You can, too: http://bit.ly/kristofize #nickkristof

It's @NickKristof's birthday; time to #Kristofize - add an "of" to your name on Twitter: http://bit.ly/kristofize #nickkristof

I'll compile stats to see how much traction this gets. You must use the hashtags and handle above for this campaign to register.

Don't forget to change your Twitter bio to reduce confusion among your followers.

ON FACEBOOK: Write your name, Kristofized (i.e., add "of" to the end of your last name) on a piece of paper, a white board, or anything similar and take a picture. Post the photo on Facebook and say something like: In honor of Nick Kristof's birthday, I've added an "of" to my name. Learn about the Kristofize project at http://bit.ly/kristofize

PLEASE NOTE: The Twitter and Facebook stuff are just cosmetic actions -- our way of saying "Happy Birthday, Nick." If you really want to help his mission, then consider connecting with the Half the Sky Movement, named for the amazing book, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide," that Kristof wrote with his wife (and fellow Pulitzer winner) Sheryl WuDunn (@WuDunn).

Here's what you can do at HalfTheSkyMovement.org:

OK, let's go out and Kristofize!

[If you're wondering about the title of the book, it comes from a Chinese proverb that says women hold up half the sky. You can hear Kristof and WuDunn talk eloquently about how we all can help the world's women in an October 2009 BlogTalkRadio Webcast that I helped produce for the South Asian Journalists Association. As you will see, back then, his Twitter handle was @NYTimesKristof.]

CNET NEWS READERS: If you've been reading my posts here, you know that one of the things I am trying to do is learn what works and what doesn't on social media. It's such a fast-evolving, confusing world that I believe we can all learn together. This is on one of those efforts. I hope you'll participate. Please post your thoughts in the comments below or e-mail me or tweet me at @sree or #sreetips on Twitter. Thanks for reading this far.

Some responses to the #Kristofize project on Twitter