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).
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.
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:
- Sign up for e-mail updates for when the full site launches this May and a PBS special airs in October.
- Hit FOLLOW on Twitter: https://twitter.com/half (great handle; has 1,315 followers at launch of this little birthday project -- let's see how it can grow.
- Hit LIKE on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/halftheskymovement (has 17,027 likes).
- Hit FOLLOW on Tumblr: http://halftheskymovement.tumblr.com/ (has 22 Tumblr followers).
- Hit FOLLOW ALL on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/halfsky/ (has 98 followers).
- Make the "Half The Sky" book jump on Amazon again: http://amzn.to/halfskybook (buy the book and/or tweet or FB the link; Amazon ranking is No. 1,138 as I write this).
- Make a donation, no matter how small, to one of the worthy nonprofits that he has talked about before (be sure to say this is for Kristof's birthday in a comment field): Amnesty International Ladis Kristof Activist Fellowship | CAREpackage.org | Heifer International
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.