Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Does Your Company Need a Community Evangelist?

James Lim wants companies to start hiring online community evangelists. He explains:
This is how fast (agile if you will) the world is changing. There is a person that you need to hire today into your company, but there is no real title for them. You can’t find a them under a category under Monster.com. In fact, it’s amazing to say, but the most talented person out there for the job may not even know that they are the perfect candidate. What I’m speaking of is a Community Evangelist or Community Manager (again, there are all sorts of titles. At Microsoft, they call them Community Program Managers). For simplicity, I’ll stick to the title, Community Evangelist for this title since I think that it’s most appropriate being that the job is one that requires a great deal of faith, belief, and passion against the odds of encouraging people to change the way they communicate with others.

Bingo. I'll go further and say that every major company should make a list of their community evangelists online, and from that list, hire at least one to serve the same role within the company. The value such a move brings to your organization is immense, as you are getting an evangelist for your company, that speaks with the voice of your customer.

This is why I absolutely love what LinkedIn did in hiring Mario Sundar to be its Community Evangelist. Suddenly, LinkedIn is relevant to me. And Mario is doing exactly what he was hired to do, he's bringing the voice of the community to LinkedIn. He's helped the site launch its first blog, and he's talking to other bloggers about what features LinkedIn should be adding. Previously if LinkedIn had tried to talk to me, I could have cared less. Then they hired a top marketing blogger that's an expert at building communities, and suddenly my mouse perks up. I've spent more time with LinkedIn in the last month, than I did the previous year.

James closes with this: "Find a Community Evangelist now to take your company into the future of customer dialogue using Web 2.0. Your customers will love you and you will see a measurable and significant ROI on this investment."

What he said.

Pic via Jeremiah

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Anonymous said...

and because of Mario and you, I'm trying to help the site (by culling feedback). The feedback thus far has been great (at my blog).

Btw, thanks for showing me around LinkedIn!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the word "evangelist" shouldn't be replaced by something else. In my mind, an evangelist makes speeches, no conversations.

But that's only a word and I really admire what Mario Sundar is doing around linkedin

Bob G said...

Nothing short of revolutionary, Mack - and I'll give the evangelist in all of us an Amen! LinkedIn, eh? I'm there but never have exactly figured it out ;) Time for a little homework

Anonymous said...

The word evangelist can be strong, but that's because it is such a revolution that's taking place right now. Other titles I've seen are Community Manager. In a way, the title of evangelist fits since it will take someone who is faithful and passionate to inspire people to change when they don't want to listening.

Mack Collier said...

What does an evangelist do? Spreads the word. Whereas a regular customer might give a recommendation about a product if asked, an evangelist will go out of their way to make SURE that you know about their favorite product/brand/company. They feel a sense of ownership in your brand/product/company, and thusly want to do everything in their power to help it succeed.

Where a community evangelist works so well is that they understand the importance of bringing the voice of the customer into the company.

J.D. said...

The only question I have as someone outside the marketing industry is this: when does being officially hired by a company cause you to lose cred as an evangelist?

Just based on the music industry example (which is my area of understanding) if you get someone out there who evangelizes for a certain band, label, brand, or gizmo, if it is discovered that he's on the payroll of said entity, he immediately is relegated to the status of a corporate stooge, and his opinions (be they right or wrong) are forever tainted and/or completely discounted.

Where does an evangelist differentiate himself between an enthusiast for the product and someone who is being paid to say nice things about that product?

Anonymous said...


If you ever want to interview an evangelist, I'm available. My self assigned role is the one of curator at Fast Company readers' network... I've been bringing the magazine to life for 7+ years. And maybe putting Philadelphia on the map in the process. Ours is a small town for such a large city (8M) and I kind'a bucked trends in a pretty snooty environment.

Mario said...

First off, THANKS for all the positive feedback guys.

CK, as usual, is awesome in collecting feedback for LinkedIn. Much appreciated. Now my goal is to figure out when all this feedback can be acted upon.

Evangelist is a strong title but it defines the passion of communicating the benefits of a product/service.

Let me know if you're interested and I can give a walk-through of LinkedIn. I can be reached at msundar@linkedin.com.

Once again, Thanks, Mack!