Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire; I led their social media efforts from 2007 past their IPO. These are my thoughts on tomorrow's social products, today.

Is Community Evangelism the job of the future? (Updated)

Summary: Godin predicts jobs of the future — #1 choice: is he talking about the job I have today? — List of top community evangelists I know

Well, Seth Godin just said so. Well, not exactly, because he calls it by a different name! Apparently, he likes to call it, Online Community Organizer. In a rather ambiguous post (if only he allowed comments, he could clarify?), he outlines what the job requirements for this role entail:

Someone with resilience, passion, persistence and excellent interpersonal skills.

What if you want to hire someone to build an online community? Somebody to create and maintain a virtual world in which all the players in an industry feel like they need to be part of it? Like being the head of a big trade association, but without the bureaucracy and tedium…

It would help if that person understood technology, at least well enough to know what it could do. They would need to be able to write. But they also have to be able to seduce stragglers into joining the group in the first place, so they have to be able to understand a marketplace, do outbound selling and non-electronic communications. They have to be able to balance huge amounts of inbound correspondence without making people feel left out, and they have to be able to walk the fine line between rejecting trolls and alienating the good guys.

Since there’s no rule book, it would help to be willing to try new things, to be self-starting and obsessed with measurement as well.

Sounds like my job. I like the distinction he drew, though. I’ve always maintained that communities cannot be managed, but in some cases they may need to be built and organized. There are a slew of community manager/evangelists (myself included) that are popping up everywhere nowadays, particularly for social media companies but I’m still a bit confused.

Now, when he says virtual world, is he talking about Second Life like worlds, or is he talking about community management on online forums, discussion boards, et al.? Because if it’s the latter, then it definitely is more of a job of the present since apart from me, there are so many of my friends who’re currently in similar jobs. Actually, Joshua from Bocardo, through whom I stumbled upon the definition lists community management as a mandatory requirement a long time ago.

Here are my favorite 10 15 20 (feel free to suggest others I’ve missed) community managers/evangelists whose present or most recent job could be what Godin predicts:

1. Damon Billian – SimplyHired, formerly PayPal Damon
2. Michael Rubin – NetFlix
3. Jeremiah Owyang – formerly at Hitachi
4. Jeremy Toeman – Sling Media
5. Robyn Tippins – MyBlogLog
6. Chris Brogan – Network2.tv, and Lifehack blogger
7. Scott Brooks – ConceptShare
8. Alex De Carvalho – Scrapblog
9. Betsy Weber — TechSmith
10. Tara Hunt — formerly at Riya
11. Will Pate – Flock
12. Craig Newmark – Craigslist
13. Guy Kawasaki – formerly Chief evangelist, Apple
14. Thomas Hawk – Zooomr
15. Robert Scoble – formerly Microsoft
16. Josh Bancroft – Intel Software Network (Thanks, Jeremiah)
17. Colin Devroe – Viddler
18. And, my good friend and developer evangelist over at Microsoft – AI
19. Jeff Barr – Amazon Web Services
20. Dan Theurer – Yahoo!

Updates: Forgot to mention my friend Will Pate (Flock) — Jeremiah adds to the conversation, recalls his favorite community folkChris Brogan suggests starting a group for community evangelists (to-do this weekend:) — looks like Jeremiah just started one on Facebook. Awesome!

What do you think Godin is talking about? What are other essential prerequisites for a community manager?

Filed under: Miscellaneous

35 Responses

  1. In many ways, I’m still a community manager for PodTech. Great post Mario, I see this role actually formalizing at many companies.

    I hung out with Josh Bancroft, he’s the community guy for the Intel Developers.

  2. Pete says:

    Hi Mario – I say this only half-jokingly – this is “CRM 2.0.”

    It’s not about the technologies, it’s about the relationships. If we devolve community management into tactics rather than strategy, then we’ll be waiting for CRM 3.0 to happen!

  3. Wow- the more I know you, the more I’m glad you keep saying nice things about me. : ) Thanks, Mario. I’ve been playing on your platform all day today. Who’s got all the fun hacks and clever tricks?

    Thanks for the kind words, and do you think we should have some kind of group for all us community evangelist / developer types?

    –Chris…

  4. I like Pete’s likening too. What Seth hits at in the job description sounds like a mixture of emotional intelligence, GTD, and creative load balancing (in terms of paying attention to the spectrum of participants while performing online and offline activities).

  5. Will Pate says:

    What, no love bro? ;)

    Glad to see that at least 2/10ths of your list is Canadian!

  6. Mario Sundar says:

    Thanks, Jeremiah. Just added Josh and a few classic evangelists to the group (remember that Guy from Apple :)

    How could I’ve missed Will? Sorry, bud. Just added you and a few of your peers to the mix.

  7. Mario Sundar says:

    Mario & Pete,

    I think the role that Seth advocates is becoming a common occurrence in most forward thinking companies.

    I agree w/ Pete that it’s more about people & relationships than technology. Well said.

  8. Mario Sundar says:

    Chris,
    I just read the Lemons blog which said you were the epitome of what Seth suggests. That’s impressive.

    Anyways, great suggestion on the groups thing. Of all marketers, community folk SHOULD be the most likely to get themselves a group. Let’s start one. Would you like to be a co-creator? We can add Jeremiah to the mix as well. I’m sure we’ll have his support as well.

    Kudos on the tremendous work you’re doing w/ Grasshoppers: http://tinyurl.com/yp8vk5
    Mario

  9. Alex says:

    Great post and thanks for the mention! You’re in a perfect place to track and trend this job. Count me in for the group and let me know if you’d like a hand.

    There’s also Colin Devroe from Viddler, who I met at Web2Expo.

  10. Mario Sundar says:

    Hey Alex,

    Thanks! I most definitely will. I’m waiting to hear from Chris and Jeremiah. We may start small but a “community of community marketers” begs to be started.

    Will keep the blog posted, so stay tuned.

    Thanks for Colin’s mention. I’ve conversed with him over the blogosphere.

  11. Mario Sundar says:

    Hey guys,

    Looks like Jeremiah just started a group on Facebook, called “Community Manager, Advocate and Evangelist”. I somehow liked “community of community marketers” :)

    Jokes apart, I think the title covers all popular keywords. Thanks, Jeremiah!

    All you community mavens, head here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=3553055120

  12. Hey Buddy,

    Thanks for the mention;-) I guess I am too shy to covet the limelight:)

  13. [...] The job of the future, community evangelism — Call it Online Community Organizer, Online Community Manager, or Community Evangelist, lots of people are doing it. And talking about it. [Marketing Nirvana] [...]

  14. Mario Sundar says:

    D, (Damon aka Dude)

    You’ve been an inspiration. So come on and share the limelight :)

    So, when are you coming back to America? (w/ the wife). Congratulations, bud!

  15. Hello Mario,

    This is an extremely interesting and important post. This particular position is a mixture of many of things said above, I apologize if I repeat someone. Mario Vellandi mentioned this combination very nicely.
    It is a person with High Emotional Intelligence. In addition, there must be a visionary ability to bring people together into a world that would increase value.
    It may sound somewhat prophet seeking or such, but it is simply a person that wants to change the world for the better (?simply huh?). An individual, or group, who want to do good.

    If such a group, or community, of evangelists as suggested above is created, please let us all know.

    Thank you,

    Eran

    [Furthermore, Mario, I am new at blogging and wondered if there are ways to contact any of the bloggers above, whom I believe have very interesting perspectives?]

  16. Mario,

    Thanks for the mention. You really should have included yourself in the list so that when this table is copied and blockquoted in someone else’s blog they don’t forget to add you!

    I was wondering when Seth was going to post on this new trend. Well, I say new, but Apple knew what they were doing way back when, huh…?

  17. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi Eran,

    You’re absolutely right. I’m sure most community evangelists would like to impact the world in some way.

    As far as contacting the bloggers, I’d say check out each individual blog and since most bloggers have an email address provided, feel free to contact them that way.

    As far as groups are concerned, Jeremiah, started a Facebook group that you can access here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=3553055120&ref=nf

  18. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi Robyn,

    I read Eric’s post where he duly mentions the great job you’ve been doing at MyBlogLog. Kudos!

    And you’re right, Guy Kawasaki is probably the quintessential evangelist – a role defined by Apple during the Mac days. I guess the community organizer role is getting institutionalized nowadays.

    Thanks for the comment and keep up the great work.

  19. Mario -
    I’m honored to rate. As we discussed last, community elements should be changing and iterating very rapidly these days at Netflix. I’m still winging the blog-thing. You’re a great rolemodel in this regard. Any feedback you might have is appreciated. cheers.

    rubin

  20. Betsy Weber says:

    Wow – I am honored and humbled to be the list! Especially since I consider the others (and you!) on the list to be my mentors whether they know it or not. :-)

    This is a great post…and I was just thinking the other day about how people with our roles have the best jobs!

    And, if you’re still adding people…don’t forget about Jeff Barr at Amazon Web Services and Dan Theurer at Yahoo!

    Thanks – you made my day!

    Bets

  21. Mario Sundar says:

    Hey Bets,

    Thanks for the kind words. And, I agree, we do have the best jobs out there.

    I’ve added Jeff Barr and Dan Theurer to the list.

  22. Rajiv Doshi says:

    Thanks for putting together this list of Evangelists, everyone of them I have a lot of respect for what they are doing. While a lot of them I already knew, there some new folks there that are just as interesting. While I am not on there yet, I hope to be a part of that list in the future. This week, I started as an Evangelist at Minekey, a new start up focused on personalized content discovery.

  23. [...] think being an Evangelist, I am in good company. I agree with Mario that it’s not the job of the future but the job of current – every [...]

  24. [...] Is Community Evangelism the job of the future? (Updated) « Marketing Nirvana by Mario Sundar (tags: community) [...]

  25. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi Rajiv,

    Welcome to the gang :) Look forward to hearing your stories of evangelism for Minekey. Feel free to share them. All you’ve to do is email me at mario.sundar@gmail.com.

  26. I’ve been managing the eHarlequin.com online community for some 11+ years now and have always likened my position to that of “Hospitality Ranger”. I’ve also identified qualities that help define the ideal candidate and in random order would list some of the following skills as must-haves: THICK skin, nurturer, juggling, cybrarian, confidante, cheerleading, tap-dancing, stand up comic, hall monitor, tight rope walking, facilitator, conversationalist, ambassador, social anthropologist, bull riding and cat herding in any 2 or 3 word combination of the above.

  27. Mario Sundar says:

    Hospitality Ranger! Now, that’s something I’ve never heard anyone suggest but I can understand the rationale behind it.

    nice set of attributes there. I’m sure all of us in the biz will understand. My favorites – bull riding and cat herding! LOL

    Thanks for participating.

  28. Hey Bud,

    Back to America has been delayed for 1-2 weeks. Still working on paperwork.

    P.S. We bought a house in Phuket. Feel free to drop in:)

  29. Hey Bud,

    FYI…I saw this post translated in to Italian.

  30. [...] know this is long, long overdue, but thank you for this (Is Community Evangelism the job of the future? (Updated)) . I’m truly honored to have made the cut. I probably haven’t said this enough, but I [...]

  31. Jake McKee says:

    Not to toot my own horn (at least not too much), but I did similar things at LEGO until (somewhat) recently.

  32. [...] Josh, Colin, Jeff, Dan and those peers of mine (community evangelism), I’d enumerated in an earlier post of mine. And, to you I [...]

  33. [...] was viewed through the prism of Seth Godin’s writing; he calls it Online Community Organizer. The job of the future, community evangelism — Call it Online Community Organizer, Online Community Manager, or Community Evangelist, lots of [...]

  34. [...] around the same thing. The waves of blogging conversations about community management seem to be washing on the shore closer together these [...]

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