Social Media, and the web in general gives way to individuals to connect, in which they share their real human face, thoughts, and opinions.
One way for companies to adopt to this is to hire or create a role called a “Customer/Community” + “Evangelist/Advocate/Manager/Guy/Girl” or some variation of. I know many of those that are the leaders, and at my previous company, I had that role. They often use the tools that the people in the community use, today, this toolset primarily involves blogs, and is now spreading to video, twitter, and who knows what.
The rules of a Community Manager are simple, here’s my ideology around it, feel free to share your own:
This “Customer/Community” + “Evangelist/Advocate/Manager/Guy/Girl” role typically has the following traits:
1) Community First
Puts the community or the customers as a priority over the company. This person is an advocate for the customers, and will often go ‘join’ the community, rather than try to build it. (I learned this from Tara)
2) An Educator, two-ways
Teaches the community about the company and it’s products, often in a non-invasive manner.
3) Uses the tools and communication style of the community
In 2007, this is primarily blogs, online pictures. I see this moving to Video, Twitter, and a vast array of emerging tools.
4) Puts a Human Face on the company
This person actually shows their real face, both online and at events. Forget those stock images of the pretty Asian woman at the computer, and use a real person, who can relate to the community.
5) Not just a Marketing Role
This is not just a PR or marketing role, this role actually extends to:
Product Marketing and Engineering
6) Knows when to get out of the way
Sometimes this role is to connect the right people in the company (who know more about the product details) with the right customers. Also this role will connect prospects with customers, in a new form of “customer references”.
7) Pushes the “Membrane”
Scoble told me about this in 2005, he pushed the corporate membrane at Microsoft, which is a pliable movable invisible wall. Once he felt he pushed it, and was just about to poke through, he would back off. If Corporate Comms and Management gets uncomfortable with the community manager, then you’re doing the job right.
What a Community Manager does
Can a Community Manager really sit back and shutup?
Project Manager, Product Managers, and Product Marketing Manager
Social Media changes Product Managers and Product Marketing
Update: Inspiring upcoming potential Christopher Salazar has added some additional thoughts, a must read.
Some of the profiles of the Evangelists or Community Advocates in the Technology Industry:
Guy Kawasaki – Former Apple Evangelist and current VC
Most well known for being one of Apple’s most vibrant Evangelists, in addition to his many endeavors of his own. Guy is the author of eight books including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. Guy has some of the most infectious evangelism, people are drawn to him, and this was very apparent when he started his blog and it instantly became a hit. Check out his wikipedia profile.
Damon Billian – PayPal, SimplyHired
I’ve actually known Damon longer than most folks on this list, I knew him from some mutual friends before I started my career. Damon was one of the early evangelists in the web industry, while at PayPal, he compassionately reached out to customers to help answer their questions. Damon is now involved with SimplyHired and is the Community Manager, I myself have interacted with Damon in the SimplyForums where Damon was facilitating some great discussions. Damon can be found either in Silicon Valley or Thailand visiting his sweetheart or on his blog.
Scott Beale – Laughing Squid
Scott is the founder of Laughing Squid Web Hosting for over 10 years, as a well-respected photographer, he takes pictures of community events and personalities and spreads his stickers that end up on all kinds of interesting places. He’s also know for throwing some amazing community parties, all this without pitching his product.
Tara Hunt – Pinko Marketer, Citizen Agency
As one of the most visible web company evangelists, Tara’s credited by giving to the community that she serves by becoming one of them, as a result of her generous nature, her former employer Riya yielded incredible early signups for it’s initial launch. She founded the Pinko Marketing religion which spurs an emerging generation of marketers that listen rather than talk. Last summer Tara left Riya to start her own consultancy appropriately named Citizen Agency with sweetheart Chris Messina. Today, Tara’s seen on the speaking circuit, stirring up traditional marketing memes, being a mom, or working hard in her swanky SF office loft near SOMA’s South Park Tech corridor. I’m constantly amazed at her energy, I doubt you’ll be able to keep up, so to learn more check out CenterNetworks has a great interview or check out her blog Horse Pig Cow (or as I affectionately refer to it, Neigh, Snort, Moo) .
Will Pate, Community Ambassador, Flock/Rockstar
Out of all the evangelists out there, I’m likely to be the most jealous of Will Pate. Not because of his dashing good looks, (or so my wife tells me) or that he’s constantly surrounded by the ladies, or stylish garb, it’s because he makes it look so easy. I recently caught up with Will at the Community Next conference in Palo Alto and he described his role at Flock to be part community advocate, and part company evangelists. He helped to bring the requirements together, connect them, and build a better product. Today, Will can be found in Toronto, and he’s switched to a part time role at Flock, what’s next for Will? Greatness I’m sure.
Robert Scoble Geek Blogger – Former Microsoft Blogger, now at PodTech
The Scoblizer brought a human face to the evil empire. Although an employee, Robert was the biggest critic of Microsoft. He would point to the ‘evil’ faster than anyone else could, centralizing the conversation and opening up a transparent conversation. As a blogging evangelist, Robert changed how many felt about Microsoft. We now work together at PodTech. He’s most often seen in one of our meeting rooms interviewing a CEO for his show ScobleShow.
Thomas Hawk – Photographer, Zooomr Evangelist
In my opinion, Thomas has the most unique style, hired a few months ago as Zooomr (a Photo sharing site) as their Marketing Evangelist, rather than pitching the product, he uses his camera. Thomas takes pictures of just about everything and anything, and they all turn out interesting. By being an example of the photographer community, he brings the experience of photo sharing (and that means zooomr) closer to his community. He also never ‘hard-pitches’ his company, buy by just demonstrating his mastery of photography he draws the community in closer.
Craig Newmark, Founder of Craigslist
To me, Craig is a very fatherly character in the drama I call the internet. His website is about giving, sharing, and helping others. He’s a serious community guy, who gives his time, effort to those who also need help. If you’ve ever seen him speak, he’s very humble and generous to others.
Micki Krimmel – Revver
Micki is the video Starlet of our time. As the Director of Community at Video Sharing site Revver, she walks and talks the business. Her highly captivating videos express her unique style, signature tattoo, and impecable fashion forward LA fashions. If anyone should get her own dedicated video show it should be Micki. I’ve met up with Micki a few times, and her online persona is exactly like her real life one: engaging, interesting, captivating and very babelicious. It’s no doubt that Revver has so wisley chose her to be the front face of the company, like Thomas Hawk, she lives the product without pitching it. But more than anything even Galacticast thinks The Micki is sexy.
Martin McKeay – StillSecure Blogger, Podcaster, Videoblogger
Martin is a personal friend of mine, and has recently started as the Security Evangelist for StillSecure a security solutions company. While still too early to sing any praises, we’ll keep an eye on him. Martin is a Security Blogger “A-lister” Podcaster, VideoBlogger (with PodTech), and Speaker.
Mario Sundar – LinkedIn
Mario announced his succession as the Community Evangelist at Linkedin a few hours ago.
I realize there are other people that could make this list, (such as the wikipedia entry on Technology Evangelist I pulled from those that I’ve met or followed, feel free to add a comment to add your own!
Who am I? Master Blogger Shel Israel has documented my experience as the Online Community Manager at Hitachi Data Systems. I now work as a social media consultant at PodTech, helping our clients with their own Community.
Update: I’m no longer at Podtech, but instead am an Analyst at Forrester Research covering Social Computing, in fact, I’ve published a report on this passion topic of mine, how to staff for social computing.
(Left: Mario Sundar and Jeremiah Owyang)
LinkedIn, a social networking contact website is demonstrating how important customers are to them, as they’ve recently hired a Customer Evangelist. This role is appearing in many companies, I had such a role at Hitachi. Mario Sundar, a well-known Marketing blogger and thought leader has accepted the role.
What’s his mission? watch his video
I informally interviewed Mario on video, you can watch as he explains his purpose as a Customer Evangelist, Congrats Mario and congratulations LinkedIn, you’ll now have a better connection with customers, communicate more effectively and continue to put a human face on your company, you couldn’t have picked anyone more friendly and genuine than Mario.
Tune in to Justin.tv on Monday, March 26,2007 from 12-2pm PST as Justin tours and PodTech HQ.
Justin Kan of Justin.tv will be at PodTech Headquarters tomorrow sometime during lunch and early afternoon to take a tour of our Palo Alto facility and meet some folks.
Justin has a webcam attached to his hat and is streaming content live as he goes on his adventures around San Francisco. He’s got corporate sponsors (many of which products are visible in his apartment) and is hanging out with many of the bay area’s techno elite, and getting lots of media coverage LaughingSquid, Digg, Thomas Hawk, and Wired Magazine. You can see his schedule live on his website, which is published for all to see.
He also is doing a photoshoot with Business 2.0, was in the SF Chronicle and had some drama about a prank cop call, which was covered by TechCrunch.
Remember Truman show? It’s kind of like that. Anyways, login to his site tomorrow during lunch, and you’ll see him come by and chat with me and others, live on the web.
This is the future of digital generations, real-time live sharing on the web.
Bonus: Check out my video interview with Justin, a few weeks before his site went live.
Some of my family has restaurants, like every other restaurant in the bay area (and I’m sure elsewhere) they are rated on Yelp, local dining reviews. In some cases, these reviews actually score higher than the actual website or Yahoo directory. One time I invited a well known blogger to lunch and left it in his comments with the restaurant name. His comments are open for web crawlers to index, and if you now do a Google search on the restaurant, his blog comes up first.
On several occasions when I took pictures of the food, I was asked by staff if I was a food reviewer, of course I wasn’t. But I will tell me network of hundreds on Twitter if I do have an interesting experience.
The SF Chronicle takes a swipe at those that are reviewing restaurants, here’s the title of the article:
“Food bloggers dish up plates of spicy criticism
Formerly formal discipline of reviewing becomes a free-for-all for online amateurs”
I realize newspapers are under attack by citizen “journalism” and anything that can be done to subdue the inevitable is a natural defense reaction. If I wrote the article, I would have titled it:
How I would title the article:
“Customers share opinion with community
Patrons document experience with others, giving Restaurateurs opportunity to improve service and product.”
As PodTech, I consult the Fortune 1000 on how to deal with bloggers in their industry, for the most part, the rules are the same, here’s a few things that Restaurant owners can do to stay relevant:
1) Listen to these reviews, continue to read them
2) Respond to the comments in the thread or review
3) Improve one’s product or service
4) Continue to invite those influential bloggers to your restaurant to review
Get creative and proactive
Consider creating a social media tool for your business, whether it be the “Chef’s Blog” (Free to setup) or a live webcam, or a way to encourage patrons to vote on their favorite dishes in a free Yahoo Group (free). I can imagine some boutique restaurant marketing company to appear and help out and organize blogger dinners that traverse these friendly restaurants.
Restaurants spend money on marketing, advertising, and decor, savvy restaurants will have to understand the social media impact.
I’m trying to be a resource here, so please don’t complain restaurateurs, but take this opportunity to build a better experience for your patrons, what’s happening is unavoidable.
I don’t know how many times clients have asked me to share ‘numbers’ with them for audience over my web career. While in the first web phase, having big numbers of visitors was important, we’re starting to see that smaller, more intimate conversations are now more crucial as the web continues to offer more two-way interactions for communications and gestures.
Andy Beal has cited a few indicators of engagement or activity, which could include conversations, responses, frequent returns, high levels of clicks and communications.
While traffic on my blog is still an indicator of success, I find checking the amount of time people actually spend on specific posts, and what that post content is about is actually more interesting that large visitor trends.
If you’re seeking what to measure, start with Brian Oberkirch’s list of Attributes, then think about groupings which yielded this list, or see a list of companies that may help your organization out.
Over one year ago, I co-authored a white paper with Dennis McDonald on the impacts of “Web 2.0″ on the IT Department, it’s still one of the top downloaded documents at Dennis’s site. (We started it in 2005)
I guess we were thinking pretty far ahead, as just NOW IT departments are figuring out how to integrate, implement social media tools. I probably would have used the term Social Media, rather than Web 2.0 but that term had not yet crossed my vocabulary.
I guess this goes to show the time for adoption is starting now, and with Nick and Richard’s resource indicating that enterprises are more interested in feature sets from established software suite providers than one-off software start-ups, apparently the CIO is starting to wake up. (Forrester report available). Need some quick ways to get started? Mario summarizes.
What’s on my mind for a year from now? The normalization of Social Media, and how powers will start to shift and hierarchies will form, the socialist dream never will happen.
Last time at the STIRR event, Salim Ismail had a slight incident on stage, As a recap, Salim promised to buy everyone drinks if they clapped (applause as currency for voting) for his product to receive an award. The excited crowd gave their full attention, resulting in Salim’s company Confabb to win, after receiving the award, Salim retracted the offer for drinks, in which the crowd boo’d and hissed, see video of presentation.
I gently prodded via my blog but kudos to STIRR MC Rafe Needleman of CNET’s WebWare full on gave a nice public rubbing, “Field Report Stirr wrap-up, part 1: Sun, slogans, and how to cheat your audience”. Ouch! Salim immediately left comments on our blogs telling us he will make good, as well as confirmation from his company. Yesterday, while walking up to the event, I see Salim, who’s made good on his promise. I ran into Salim as he parked his car “that wasn’t my best public speaking” and was eager to restore his reputation.
Last night, at STIRR, in good spirit, Salim made good with the drink gods.
Salim greeted each guest and presented them with a drink ticket, and enjoyed the jokes and appreciation. You may also know that Salim has recently joined Yahoo, and is heading up their skunkworks team, which will yield some exciting products. I wonder what additional innovation will come out of Yahoo, I’ve got great interest after hanging with YPN, Pipes, and MyBlogLog teams.
Who else was at STIRR? Michael Arrington, Niall Kennedy, Sarah Meyers, Kevin Burton, PodTech, Bubbilicious, Duck9, Dave McClure, Ian Kennedy, Joyent, Oren Michaels of Mashery, Jeff McManus, Oren and of course the companies presenting were Buxfer Criteo Freebase Wrike, and sponsorship by SUN.
Good show Salim, and congrats to all your new ventures.
Fully-Naked-Transparent-Open-Nudist-Disclosure: Salim bought me and a couple hundred others drinks last night, duh
Pew Reports that the ubiquity of the Internet continues to grow as Internet users continue to adopt wireless access:
“34% of internet users have logged on with a wireless internet connection either at home, at work, or someplace else.”
Of those above, the report indicates that most usage is checking news, and using email. The trust or adoption of accesing the internet not just at home (the coffee shop perhaps?) increases:
“27% of adult internet users have logged onto the internet using a wireless device at some place other than their home or place of employment.”
As this continues forward, more individuals will not be bound by physical boundaries or cables at home or work to access information about weather, traffic, stocks, email. All sorts of interesting targeted information will continue to be focused to pinpoint and triangulate information for individuals.
For the web strategist, one must consider the value of developing for WAP vs mobile that can handle more data, as well as starting to think about contextual, location based advertising or marketing. I’ve been getting some reports in via email and word-of-mouth of several companies working on just this.
To read the full report access Pew’s Internet Access Report (PDF).
This is an older article, but it’s still relevant, Dirk Knemeyer, documents that There Are Only Four Things That People Do On the Web
People use the web to learn
People use the web to feel
People use the web to connect
People use the web to trade
I can think of so many corporate sites that just focus on learning and trading, they miss out on feeling and connecting. Some of the more successful corporate web strategies involve customers connecting to employees, prospects, or other customers, all signs of successful community building.
What happens next as technology advances, is there yet another human desire not yet fulfilled? Does this also apply to mobile use of the web, how about marriages of TV and Web (IPTV)?
A well known technology conference organizer encouraged me to create this list, so here goes.
The internet and the web industry is global by nature, so it’s natural we celebrate of cultures and the lowering of walls and boundaries, this is the dream of the internet!
As an American Chinese who is fifth generation (family came to SF in 1880s) I have both strong American and Chinese roots. I’ve noticed that the conference industry is under scrutiny to include include women in panels and speaking. I know there’s also some interest to include a reflective sample of individuals that represents the technology community beyond gender.
In business school, I saw a report that showed that 50% of all Silicon Valley startups are founded by Asians, in fact there’s a wide demographic of Asians in the bay area (over 35% in SF), many of which work in the tech industry.
In the spirit of celebrating all cultures, the following is a list of Asian Tech speakers, this is intended as a resource to conference planners. This list is listed in alpha order by first name
Ali Diab | Entrepreneur
Amit Gupta | Entrepreneur, Blogger
Andrew Lih | Student, Author, focus on Wiki Collaboration
Avinash Kaushik | Speaker, Web Analytics Expert, Blogger
Anil Dash, Bio on Wikipedia | Entrepreneur, Blogging Pioneer
Bryan Veloso | Technologist & Blogger
Chalene Li, Forrester Bio | Researcher, Analyst, Blogger
Chan Kim | Business Author, Blue Ocean
Christine “Happy Slip” Gambito | VideoBlogger
Cindi Li | Web Designer, Blogger
Clement Mok | Design and business consultant
Emily Chang, bio on personal website | Designer, Blogger
Ernie Hsiung | Blogger & Technologist
Greg Narain | Entrepreneur, Blogger
Guy Kawasaki, Bio on Wikipedia | Entrepreneur, Investor, Blogger
Ginsu “Gene” Yoon | VP Linden Labs
Glenda Bautista | Writer, Technologist, Activist
Hiten Shaw Crazy Egg Founder
Irene Au | User Experience
James Hong | Web Entrepreneur
Jane Pinckard | Gaming Journalist & Blogger, see Character Sheet
Jen Chung | Editor
Jeremy Liew | Lightspeed Venture Partner Partner
Jeremiah Owyang | Self-titled Web Strategist
Jerry Yang | Yahoo Founder, Entrepreneur, and CEO
Jia Shen | CTO and Co Founder of RockYou
Joi Ito, bio on site | Investor, Entrepreneur, Activist, Blogger
John Chow| Blogger “Making Money online”
Justin Kan | Life Video Streamer “Life Caster”
Kelly Goto | Web Designer
Kevin Cheng | Web Professional, Artist, Blogger
Khoi Vinh | Designer, Blogger
Lea Alcantara | Web & graphic design studio
Leonard Lin | Technologist & Blogger
Mario Sundar | Evangelist and Bloggerr
Min Jung Kim | Web Professional, Blogger, Community Sweetheart!
Munjal Shaw | CEO, Blogger
Om Malik, Bio on Wikipedia | Editor, Entrepreneur, Blogger
Nicole Lee | Technology Journalist & Blogger (now at CNET)
Peter Kim | Sr. Forrester Analyst: Marketing Media, Blogger
Peter Pham | Sr. Director Business Development, Photobucket
Rashmi Sinha | Technology Consultant
Raymond Padilla | Gaming Journalist & Blogger
Salim Ismail | Entrepreneur, Investor, now at Yahoo
Susan Wu | Technologist and Associate at Charles River
Tantek Çelik | Blogger, Technologist, CTO
Tila Tequila | MySpace entertainer (Oh come on, I can’t help it)
Tony Hung | Blogger, Technologist
TJ Kang | Technologist, CEO
Vinod Khosla | Venture Capitilist
Wagner James Au | Second Life Reporter
Please submit other speakers in the comments, this will be an ongoing list, It’s expected they have speaking experience.
Bonus Web Usage Data:
The majority of planet earth is Asian, and majority of internet usage and growth is in Asia, there are more internet users in China than all of North and South America combined.
Update March 27th
A couple of people have mentioned this list could easily extend to all of Asia, where there are thousands of technology speakers. I’ve updated the title from and added “North America” to it to define some parameters. If anything, this has raised greater awareness and that’s part of the intention. I’ve also started to see some folks on this list who were glad (and annoyed at the industry), that was expected.
For the record, I’m trying to be a helpful resource to conference organizers that want diversity, rather than a ‘stick it to the man’ type of guy. If you read my hundreds of other posts, you’ll be able to tell from tone.
Update: Also check out China’s business speakers