Sharon Feder is the Chief Operating Officer at Mashable, a "leading source for news, information and resources for the Connected Generation." Sharon started as an Editorial Assistant in 2008 and is now responsible for the company’s business operations including sales, marketing, community and human resources.
I've witnessed Mashable's rise over the years, from a personal blog to a "one-stop-shop social media hub," and I have great admiration for the team's ability to grow and evolve while taking a stand for all things "social good."
In this Q&A, Sharon tells the story behind #GivingTuesday, and shares her thoughts on some of the most memorable trends and stories of 2012.
“We now have more than 2,000 partner organizations and companies planning activations around #GivingTuesday with their respective communities.”
Social Nerdia: What's the story behind #GivingTuesday?
Sharon Feder: Henry Timms, the Deputy Executive Director of New York's 92nd Street Y approached me and others with this great idea that he had started thinking about during last year's holiday season: We have a day for giving thanks, two days for getting deals. Why shouldn't there be a day for giving back?
The idea is simple: Why not create a structured day that encourages corporations, individuals and families to give back in a way that's meaningful to them, whether through volunteerism or donation. We started to recruit partners, participants and social media ambassadors and quickly saw online communities embracing and taking ownership of #givingtuesday and turning it into a movement.
We now have more than 2,000 partner organizations and companies planning activations around #GivingTuesday with their respective communities.
Social Nerdia: Mashable has done a lot to encourage "social good" over the last few years. What does contributing to the world mean to the Mashable team?
SF: A few years ago Mashable's CEO and Founder Pete Cashmore donated his birthday to Charity:Water to raise money to build a well in Ethiopia. His efforts were successful and we were all moved by what our community was able to achieve.
We realized we have a powerful platform that can inform and create positive change. As a result, we've become more involved over the years in covering innovations in social good, we've partnered with organizations like 92Y, UNFoundation and others to host our annual Social Good Summit, as well as become involved in initiatives like #GivingTuesday.
We truly feel that technology has the ability to solve global problems and make this world a better place.
Social Nerdia: What did you think about how companies leveraged social media this Black Friday?
SF: I was more focused on the general shift to online this Black Friday. For the first time ever, Black Friday online sales topped $1 billion. Brands like Amazon were smart to push big deals on Black Friday and also smart to push their customers to their price check app.
Social Nerdia: You've been Mashable's COO for almost a year now. What were some of the news stories and events of the year that you will remember as highlights?
SF: This truly has been an incredible year with big trends, shifts in consumer behavior and lots of global events. It's been incredible to see visual sharing networks like Pinterest and Instagram take off and to see people increasingly valuing and sharing beautiful photos and images. Additionally, to see such a big shift to mobile and the rise of big data. All of these trends and more inspired the new Mashable, which launched in beta two weeks ago and will be launching to the public soon.
I think the biggest story for me this year was Sandy. It personally affected me, my family and the neighborhood I grew up in: Rockaway, Queens. Experiencing the storm and a week of blackout in NYC was one thing, but now seeing the power of social media in sharing the stories of those affected by the storm and organizing the grassroots efforts to recover and rebuild are another.
Social Nerdia: What advice would you give to young professionals who want to drive meaningful change in the world by leveraging social media?
SF: I'd say go for it! And #GivingTuesday could be the perfect day to start. You have the drive and the tools. It's time to make something happen!