Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Live from Web 2.0 Expo: Community Evangelism w/ Anil Dash and Deborah Schultz

So, I finally got here w/ Jeremiah. We streamed live all the way from Jeremiah’s place as we drove over from the peninsula. We got here a half hour back and finally are seated here while the panel (Anil Dash and Deborah Schultz) gets ready for the show. We’re still streaming live, check out Jeremiah’s stream over here or head over to Jeremiah’s live feed.

Keep checking back this post, here since I’ll live blog as the conversation on this panel continues.

Live streaming video of the “community evangelism” panel discussion can be accessed here. Stand by, while the discussion starts. Here are details on the panel I’m currently attending.

Will be live blogging in a few minutes… Stand by… We’re live now at 9:45 AM:


9:49 AM: Anil just started the conversation. Here are the topics he’d like to cover, primary the technical aspects behind evangelism. Both Anil and Deborah would like the discussion to be conversational.

9:50 AM: The concept of evangelism is easily understood by youth of the world, as opposed to days of the past.

9:52 AM: Very few use direct mail and email newsletters as opposed to social media in the audience. Things are changing rapidly in the world. Key feature of new media, is persistence. What kind of communication do you find meaningful to you. Information that is being virally transmitted is not necessarily the new content but rather persistent meaningful content that people find useful, much like a book. Blog media is also similar to a book as opposed to just the latest and greatest.

9:56 AM: Comparison of the web w/ physical stores like IKEA where they control everywhere you go, whatever you see. Users all over the web are “busting through the walls”, as opposed to old-school media.

9:58 AM: What’s missing from old company websites that are designed as an IKEA website. When you’ve a datestamp on content, it shows the promise that you’ll update that content and this is what you see on permalink on blogs. “A date stamp is a social contract”

10:00 AM: “I’ll stay in touch”. How many of us keep the promise of staying in touch. It’s more so in business. We intend to, but we don’t do it. How do we turn this promise into a relationship where we’re actually having a conversation. It’s key to a relationship that you fulfil that promise.

10:03 AM: Movies, books are really meaningful and portray an emotional connection, even if we don’t consume that media. And the promise and goal is we can experience and relive a great website as we do with movies and books. We can convey and communicate a personal message via websites as well. Business communication should aspire to the same level.


1. Awareness: Twitter is an example of informational overload. The balance is to understand, what needs to be presented to the audience at what time and with what immediacy. Sifting through the information to decide what’s important, appropriate and time sensitive.

2. Control: TiVo and iPod gives additional control over your audience’s mindshare. The Wii gives you this physical level of control on how you play games. How do we translate that level of control over web experience. Of course, it’s the feed and 95% of the crowd raised their hands as having used RSS feeds!

If you combine the awareness with persistence = relationship. But how do we translate that into a business setting. Irrespective of the bar charts, pie charts, etc… what’s the goal of evangelism — to maintain the relationship over the web! That’s so true…

How do we use web 2.0 to build relationship? Deborah is going to start talking about Concepts…


1. How do we define the role of a community evangelist

The role of an evangelist is a tough one, yet very rewarding. He’s a customer advocate. To be both out to the customer and most importantly from the customer back to the company. That’s exactly what I thought! Check out my video where I spoke of the same.

Anil: Should be among the people. The advocate should be a native among the people who use the technology. And be respectful of it. The role of evangelist is NOT a sales role, started with blogs and is now a 3-dimensional role both online and offline. Evangelists seems to be from marketing, community, public office, user design, product, customer service. I couldn’t agree more, since my new role entails my interfacing with product, customer support, and management, which is exactly what Anil is talking about.

Externally facing you’ve got to be a company’s biggest fan and internally the biggest critic.

2. The Human Skills of Evangelism:

Listener, Connector, Critic, Partial Geek, Detective (?), Catalyst, Diplomat, Juggler, Driven by relationships, Approachable, Intuitive and Inquisitive.

3. Relationship Economy:

“Transactions are the by-products of a healthy relationships. Sometimes transactions don’t matter” – Jerry Michalski

4. Key Concepts:

Democratization of tools and access, the live web, decentralization, amateur culture, increased individual influence, control is out of control, let the seller beware, people are the message. Talking about Nike from Wikipedia. The seller ought to beware, since the Wikipedia page talks more about the controversies and not the hundreds of products they’ve released since their conception. Deborah, talks about how the evangelist is the connector and curator when it comes to content about your product/service.


Anil has a problem with the title evangelism, he feels the really accurate title is WITNESS. The goal of an evangelist is to be a witness. Couldn’t agree more with him. That’s what I’ve mentioned earlier that every evangelist is to be a customer evangelist! A witness!

Be where your audience is?

You’ve to be wherever your audience is, irrespective of how inappropriate their location is

It’s 10:40 AM — Time for a break. Will be back, LIVE at 11:00 AM.

We’re back on and Anil is going to be talking about tools of the trade.


11:05 AM: Numerous social media tools out there. Most in the audience have obviously heard about most of these tools out there. The ecosystem is all about YOU and how you represent yourself in the ecosystem.

11:07 AM: Toolkit — has three different buckets

a. On your site (enable blog, rss, forums, email, etc…)

b. Out at the edges (blogosphere, social networks, photo and video sites and may I add, discussion forums)

c. Offline (events, meetups, conferences, dinner)

Anil adds that one should try out each of these different media and then use the ones that work best for you. Pick and choose little places, see how it works and then expand your presence on the web. The goal is to go out there and be a part of the conference that’s out there and more importantly where your groups reside. Wherever they are, you should be.

11:11 AM: Choose the tools that work for you (from the toolkit), which entails blogs, podcasts, RSS, video, wikis, social networks, chat, email lists, and groups/forums. A brief discussion on the various pros and cons of using one tool vs. the other. A lot of these tools self-correct over time. There are NO RULES as far as the choice of tools or methods of implementation. Also, another good point was adding new social media tools to existing methods. Like adding your newsletter content to a newly created blog. What’s interesting is that in a blog you get search engine optimization that you don’t have with an email newsletter and it also affords an opportunity to have a conversation. Gave an example of Boeing’s blog, which was one of the Top 10 in my Top 10 Corporate Blog rankings.

11:22 AM: Still talking about various tools. Currently we’re hearing about the various tools for podcasting and videocasting. And, now we’re on wikis. Most of these slides talk about the very definition of these tools and a few examples. I’m sure that most of my audience that knows about them, so I’m not going to be repetitive. Wikis are also a good tool for internal evangelism and “infinitely less scary inside an organization”. Anil is now discussing tips on feed reading.

Important Tip: If you’re using various blogs (employee blogs), corporate blog, flickr accounts, etc… do add common tags and bookmarks so you can be found easily in search engine results.


… a community evangelist. Anil Dash is the evangelist for Six Apart and all his customers have a blog! Imagine a best-case scenario where ALL your customers have a blog! The expectations are very high. Their customers are across different countries, and on a daily basis there are around 600 – 10, 000 posts to respond to, for all their customers.

Icerocket, technorati, sphere, yahoo blog search, google blog search are the various tools that Anil uses to keep tab on his company products. He then searches for specific product terms, and then searches for them on different firefox tabs, on a daily basis. It’s very similar to what I do on a daily basis – I use Google Reader to add these feeds and helps me monitor search terms for LinkedIn.

After eliminating all spam, you’ll stumble upon blog posts/feeds that talks about

1. Hey, I’m trying out this product newly
2. I’m thinking about trying out your product

Here are the groups of users you’ll find:

1. Happy users/New Users: The easiest group to deal with 🙂

2. Moderately disgruntled users: Anil’s talking about how to engage with that kind of a user. Under promise and over deliver. Say you’re sorry and mean it! Tell them what you’re doing to fix it and explain to them how it happened.

3. Vocal – really upset population: Could be different reasons. Most people are upset for a plethora of reasons, but it’s your duty to understand, empathize with and respond to that disgruntled user as honestly as possible. Go above and beyond. The people who’re most obnoxious, calm down when you talk to them face to face. Anil leaves his IM or phone number when he hears a very disgruntled user on the web.

Oops! The Wi-Fi network disconnected. So, I lost a bunch of the stuff I was typing! Anyways, I’ll continue where I left off.


1. Engage with your colleagues:

2. Play with existing rules:

3. Highlight success stories internally:

Decentralization vs. Centralization

Using qualitative examples vs. quantitative ones. Highlight the conversion stories, which are important heart-warming stories. An important part of the role is story-telling and an emotionally resonant background. As far as centralizing the conversation on one central site. That’s not going to be happen. There’s going to be only way to connect with these different user blogs that are decentralized and link to a corporate blog where you can still continue the conversation.

Should evangelism be a person, role, team, title?

It depends on the company and of course in the DNA of the company itself. The role of the community evangelist depends on the customer service person, but now it has evolved into something that each and every employee has to do. What a community evangelist does is defining process as to what information gets routed to which team within the organization.

Case Study: OpenID

Your identity on the web could be your URL. Created 18 months ago and currently there are 100 million IDs. Bill Gates publicly endorsed Open ID on behalf of Microsoft.

Technorati, Movable Type support it. In the future, Digg will also support Open ID in the near future. Anil is going over the history of OpenID and makes an interesting pitch for OpenID.

Reasons for Open ID’s success:

1. A clear story

2. Mailing lists

3. Community Wiki

4. Face-to-face meetups

5. Frequent popular blog posts

6. Extensive coverage on Digg

7. Trusted, empowered leaders

Just concluded… Stay tuned for more coverage of the marketing and community track at Web 2.0 Expo for the next three days!

Filed under: Miscellaneous

12 Responses

  1. Mike D says:

    Here’s a photo of Mario live blogging:


  2. Mario Sundar says:

    Thanks, Mike. I see you…. 🙂


  3. It’s blog posts like this that make it harder for guys like me to justify to bosses like mine to come to shows like this. Why attend when you can just read a great writeup!

    Thanks for this–I was in there and took four pages of notes, but yours are much better. Great job!


  4. Mario Sundar says:

    Hey Chris,

    Thanks for the kind words! I’m glad you found it useful, and I’ll continue doing the best I can.

    Stay tuned for more live streaming on uStream and live blogging. I’ll be covering the community and marketing track. Have a great conference!


  5. […] 3 minute video here. Here’s my live blogging post. […]


  6. deb schultz says:

    Mario – sheesh you are a great livblogger. So happy to finally meet you in person! And thanks for spreading the gospel so eloquently..;)


  7. Mario Sundar says:

    Hi Deb!

    Thanks! It was great attending your panel discussion and I look forward to meeting you at future events.


  8. […] Reading Sean Bohan’s Live Coverage Live Coverage from Marketing Nirvana on Community Evangelism Flickr […]


  9. Alicia says:

    great live blog – really informative and the structure was excellent – esp found your comments interesting and helpful for further reading/research.


  10. Mario Sundar says:

    Thanks, Alicia.

    Do you or your company have a blog?


  11. […] Posted by Mario Sundar: Live from Web 2.0 Expo: Community Evangelism w/ Anil Dash and Deborah Schultz […]


  12. […] influencers, leading investors, innovators and thinkers. Moreover, my good friend Deborah Schultz whose panel discussion at Web 2.0 Expo I chronicled here, is hosting the “Markets and Relationships track” today. I wish I could have gone to […]


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