Monday, January 12, 2009

Is the Community Evangelist making a comeback?

The big news in the social media space over the last few days is that Radian 6 has tapped Amber Naslund to be their new Director of Community. This move is absolutely perfect, as Amber has already been working with Radian 6 for a while in her marketing consultancy, and she is an expert at connecting and building relationships with others online. A classic win-win move if ever there was one.

I started paying a lot of attention to this space in late 2005, and one of the first big moves I noticed was Riya hiring Tara Hunt to head up the startup's marketing and build community for Riya. Tara did an absolutely amazing job in building excitement for Riya's launch and connecting with its community. I assumed that this would be the start of companies reaching out to social media/online 'experts' to head up their customer/community evangelism efforts.

But for whatever reason, that really hasn't happened to the degree I thought it would. Sure, some companies have been smart enough to get some of the leaders in this space to oversee their social media efforts, such as Shannon Paul with the Detroit Red Wings, and Scott Monty with Ford Motor Company.

One area where I think social media holds amazing potential is in letting a company find and embrace their online evangelists. I think so many companies are so concerned with doing 'anything' with social media that they miss how these amazing social tools can help you connect with and empower your most passionate customers. This is where I think companies should be looking as they move forward, to bring in people that have proven that they can use these sites/tools to form connections with their customers. People that can bring the voice of the company to its customers, and perhaps more importantly, the voice of the customer back to the company.

Hopefully, Radian 6 hiring Amber as their Director of Community is a sign that companies will begin to look to this space to find their community evangelists. I am obviously biased when it comes to Amber, as I think she is absolutely brilliant and Radian 6 was incredibly smart to bring her on board to direct their community efforts. The big question now is, who's next?

Pic via Flickr user AmberNaslund


Kelly Olexa said...

Great post Mack, and I totally agree. Instead of waiting for some "qualified on paper" applicant to find them, companies should be aggressively courting those that "get it" and "get it well". I think the second mistake in this area is to put this type of focus off until 'next quarter' or until the 'economy picks up'- rather, now is the time you should be focusing MORE time in this critical area where success can be had with simply an investment of TIME. Time - yes is a valuable commodity but we on the inside see that the ROI is immeasurable.


Mike Ashworth said...

Congratulations to amber on this new position.

The one thing that Companies must not do is lose sight of the passionate customers / evangelists who are not online.

In fact some Companies may have Customers who are mostly offline anyway. Obviously for a Company such as Radian6 it makes total sense to focus online.

We all must ensure that we do not, by accident, create a 2nd tier of customers, those who are poorly supported.

Amber said...


Oy vey, I should have been here ages ago to say THANK YOU for this awesome mention. I'm so excited to be part of the team and in a really super exciting role.

To Mike's point, community positions are as much offline as they are online. I plan on spending a lot of time at in-person events to meet and talk to the people that use our platform. Not all of them are as comfortably or frequently plugged in as I am (or we are), and it's critical to follow what (in my mind) is rule #1 of community engagement: connect with people where THEY are.

I can't wait to watch this space evolve this year and see how many other companies embrace these types of roles. And I'm looking forward to working hard from the inside to understand the challenges, opportunities, and learnings that go hand in hand with crafting new roles.

Thanks again for your advocacy and support, Mack. You're a wonderful friend.