Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

The 3 sides of the Community Coin!

Time just flies by, when you’re having fun. It’s been really busy at work, and there are times when I think to myself — so I get paid to do this 🙂

I’d like to “Thank You” all for your kind words and best wishes. And, of course, to Jeremiah for the video intro. Speaking of Jeremiah, he had a great post on community marketing yesterday.

Taking a cue from Hugh Macleod’s illuminating post on the “Porous Membrane” (simple and brilliant), I’d like to distill Jeremiah’s ideas even further into just 3 components:

(Source: Hugh Macleod’s Gaping Void; May 9, 2005)

1. The Community/Customer (B)

Hugh calls B the customers. I’d like to take it one step further and see them as the community, esp. since we’re talking about a product/service that is “common, public, shared by all or many”. Now, there are some products that may not have as active a community (Enterprise servers, anyone), as the consumer oriented ones (iPods). Irrespective of that, the community manager will firstly have to be a customer evangelist thereby being able to identify with the community and its needs.

2. The Membrane (x)

Quoting Hugh:

6. So each market from a corporate point of view has an internal and external conversation. What separates the two is a membrane, otherwise known as “x”.

7. Every company’s membrane is different, and controlled by a host of different technical and cultural factors.

I’d like to think of the Community Evangelist as the one who connects the two entities A & B. They are the individuals entrusted with the task of pushing that membrane, aligning A and B and aiming for nirvana (see my definition in the “About” page). And did I mention, they also help humanify the company.

3. The Troops (A)

This is the seemingly less important but critical component whose participation in the conversation is imperative. This would include your product, engineering, and customer support teams as Jeremiah elucidates. The more aligned the two groups, A and B are, the easier it’d be for the evangelist to start & keep a smart conversation going.

And, it’s not always an easy task.


Jeremiah ends his post, with a ton of great examples of community marketers. Here are a few community evangelists missing from that list — Colin Devroe (Viddler), Craig Cmehill (SAP Developer), Anand Iyer (Microsoft Developer Evangelist) and Jake McKee (Community Guy). And I know a really cool community marketer who can throw the best parties in town… Anyone else, I’ve missed?

And, Yes, my post title doesn’t make much sense. Just sounded interesting!

Filed under: Miscellaneous

11 Responses

  1. Good analysis on that diagram, it makes a lot of sense. It’s almost ‘cellular’ when I look back to my days in biology class.

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  2. Mario Sundar says:

    Thanks, J.

    That’s what I love about Hugh’s posts – simple yet 100% clarity of content.

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  3. Colin Devroe says:

    Thanks for including me in this short list of good examples, I’m flattered.

    You’ve definitely hit the nail on the head with this diagram, and I can tell you that it is exactly the approach that I take with Viddler. I love being the X factor. The line between the core business and development teams inside of Viddler and their community. Like the eyes and ears of the users directly in the fox hole.

    What is nice, about your third point, is that I have the privilege of working with a highly motivated development team, and I come from a development background. Understanding the technology, but yet not being directly responsible for it, can lend itself to all sorts of great conversations inside and outside of the company to actually whittle ideas down from a community and a technological standpoint at the same time.

    Again, I appreciate making the list – thanks!

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  4. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi Colin,

    I found your interview w/ Irina quite fascinating. Would love to continue reading your thoughts on community on your blog.

    I look forward to meeting you at some future event. Maybe the Web 2.0 Expo?

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  5. Colin Devroe says:

    Mario: Yeah, we’ll be there and across the hall at Web 2.Open. I’ll be one of the guys in a Viddler shirt! 🙂

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  6. Mario Sundar says:

    Well, I shouldn’t have a problem, finding you then.

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  7. […] and/or expand the conversation” between your internal teams and your users. As Hugh Macleod, succinctly outlined in his “Porous Membrane” meme: “The more porous your membrane (”x”), the easier it is for the internal […]

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  8. […] that exists between the individuals who create your products and the individuals who use them. (Thanks to Hugh for the concept). You’ve got to make sure that a blog is not just about that “chief blogger” but […]

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  9. […] who create its products and its users. As Hugh Macleod, beautifully describes it – it could be that Porous Membrane that facilitates “the […]

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  10. […] between users and the teams that make the product. Read Hugh Macleod’s classic post on the Porous membrane and how that works within a socially smart organization. Facebook's blog also pulls in author […]

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  11. […] between users and the teams that make the product. Read Hugh Macleod’s classic post on the Porous membrane and how that works within a socially smart […]

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