EP8: Building Communities Evangelist Superfans with Salesforce, Slack, and Atlassian

Derek sat down with 3 of the best community builders in the world to talk about how they built their communities. The guests were Elizabeth Kinsey (Developer Marketing Manager at Slack), Leslie Lee (Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Atlassian) and Erica Kuhl (VP of Community at Salesforce).

They talked about how they got started and got the initial buy in to create the program, what strategy they used to gain traction and get people to their events and how they were able to measure their success for themselves and to prove value to the C-Suite. Here are some of the top tidbits from each of our guests.

Elizabeth Kinsey (Developer Marketing Manager at Slack)
Not only did Elizabeth build community with the people attending her events at Branch Metrics but also she did that with the panelists who spoke. She focused on the speakers being extremely knowledgeable in the space to provide a lot of value and being very diverse to show the attendees that the community was like them.

That went a long way in both building the brand and setting the expectation that the events would always provide value and that they really cared about showing that anyone no matter their background could attend the events.

Leslie Lee (Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Atlassian)
Atlassian is invested in getting feedback from their users and get NPS (net promoter scores) from their users, knowing this Leslie and her team measured NPS on customers who attended community events and didn’t. They found strong correlation with that showed NPS was higher when customers attended community events.

Erica Kuhl (VP of Community at Salesforce)
Instead of assuming what the community what Erica asked the community “What do you want?”. The answer she got was that they wanted get connected to each other and get connected and become apart of the brand. The ability to put Salesforce on Linkedin, featuring them at their Dreamforce conference was extremely meaningful and motivating for them.



[0:00:04.1] DA: Welcome to the C2C Podcast. I am your host, Derek Andersen. After holding my first event in 2010, I went on to create Startup Grind, a 400-chapter community based in over a 100 countries. Along the way, I discovered the greatest marketing tool of all time; your customers. Yet, I couldn’t find anyone sharing how to build a community where people could experience your brain in person, or at scale.

On this show, we talk with the brightest minds and companies on the planet about how to build customer to customer marketing strategies and create in-person experiences for your brand and customers before your competitor does.


[0:00:44.2] JF: John Frye from the Bevy team here. Wow, today's episode is so good. I am so excited to share with you all. Derek sat down with the community leaders of Salesforce, Atlassian and Slack at Saastr to talk about how they were able to build their communities. Now they talked about the inception of the communities, how they got started, how they got people to believe in the mission as they grew what metrics were they tracking, how did they figure out if it was successful or not and what they use to drive growth, and prove that growth to the executives in order to get reinvestment and get everyone on board with growing the community, different roadblocks that they face and so, so much more.

Without further ado, please enjoy this episode of the C2C Podcast.


[0:01:33.8] DA: My name is Derek Andersen. I'm the Co-Founder of Startup Grind, a community of entrepreneurs and more recently, a software tool for building community called Bevy. Let me quickly introduce our wonderful panelists. I’ll start with Erica Kuhl, who is the Vice President of Community at Salesforce, where she heads up programs like the MVP program, user groups, on and offline communities, answer forms and idea exchange.

Leslie Lee is the Senior Director of Customer Engagement at Atlassian and she spent the last 20 years doing B2B and B2C marketing. She currently heads up all Atlassian’s online and offline community and user group programs. Elizabeth Kinsey, who is currently in the Developer Marketing Program at Slack, where she heads up many of Slack's community initiatives. Prior to that, Elizabeth was with Branch and was the Director of Marketing on their community programs as well.

Today's panel is talking about building communities and developing super-fans. As we were talking about who could possibly have the best things to say about this, these three women rose right to the top in terms of things that they're building. We'd love to start Erica with you. 17 years at Salesforce. I'm sure there's been many evolutions of how Salesforce looks at community. Tell us how you look at it today and how it's changed over the last five or 10 years.

[0:02:57.4] EK1: Yeah. It's been a massive change. Started out as a side project, as a vision and a risk that I took based on just a dream that I had, and it's evolved into a strategic differentiator for our company. It's something that our CEO talks about passionately. He knows many of our community members very intimately and building the company around it now. It's been an incredible evolution.

[0:03:23.9] DA: It's sort of one these things like the Trailblazer community. We see these characters now on the billboards. It was not like that in in the very beginning, right? That's something that's evolved and has come to be over time. How has Salesforce taken this community programs and this different feel for the brand and really tied it into everything that they've done?

[0:03:44.1] EK1: I think the most fundamental thing that's happened is that we've centered and anchored everything on the Trailblazer. We gave our community members a name and that really changed the game for us. We went from calling them community members to calling them Trailblazers and then we united them by giving them something like a hoodie that says Trailblazer and making them feel like they are part of something bigger. Then everything happened from there. We really rallied around them at the center of everything we did. That's what definitely changed the game. It didn't become about marketing. It didn't become about sales. It became about making them successful and then anchoring everything around that.

[0:04:23.5] DA: Leslie, talk to us a little bit about how Atlassian thinks about this. We know the products JIRA, Confluence, Trello among many others. How do you cultivate that top 5% of your user base?

[0:04:37.4] LL: Well, Atlassian really depends on this word-of-mouth marketing. These fans and super-fans of us are really integral to our business. We land in one part of the business and because of word-of-mouth and how they're using our products, it gets spread to other parts of the company. I think we were really lucky that our products were easy to use and loved by so many people that it could have naturally organically happened.

What we had to do is identify these folks and really give them more resources to help them do what they were already doing. In some ways, it was giving them the platform and content to be able to connect with each other and then get out of their ways in many cases.

[0:05:18.4] DA: Is it as simple as just – Some people in this audience maybe already have a customer base and some don't, in terms to draw from, but was it for something like Atlassian has tons of users everywhere at this point all over the world. Is it as simple as just putting it out there and seeing who applies and who wants to get involved and just giving them opportunity, or is it something you actively reach out to people and said, “Hey, we know you're one of our most engaged users or customers. We'd love for you to be part of this.” How much of it is a pull versus push?

[0:05:50.2] LL: It's both. I think both of those strategies are important. We had a very clearly laid out this is what it means to be a user group leader and here's the benefits that you get, here's what it means to be part of the community. Then people can apply for it and we can review and people that are not even known to us, or to our partners. Then through our partners and our ecosystem, through folks that we know and through our account managers, then we also identify evangelists within organizations and people who are already starting user groups within their companies and connecting different parts, different departments and sharing how they're using the products, identifying those evangelists and to helping them, giving them more resources and connecting them with each other.

[0:06:31.9] DA: Elizabeth, so you've just recently joined the Slack team, previous that you're at Branch running the community there. How many people here use Slack? Okay. It's a funny product to think they're just now kicking this off. There have been some smaller initiatives here there, but now it looks like it's ramping up. How is mature and the company as Slack is, how are people thinking about it internally? Why do it now? Why not have done it two or three, five years ago, or why not wait five more years? Why is now important?

[0:07:03.3] EK2: I think now is important, because it's the right time. There's enough resources available. There's people there that want to do it. Also, we figured out how to do it internally. I think that one of the other things to think about is that Slack grew very naturally and organically through communities, through word of mouth and through these different grassroots initiatives. Nobody really wanted to mess with that.

Let people do what they need to do and observe and figure out where to support. Now that we have a good idea of that, it's the right time to move in and start to galvanize all of those efforts and take that groundswell and really set it on fire.

[0:07:45.0] DA: I think one thing that's interesting about each of your products is that the way that I got exposed to them, this may not be everyone's experience, was through someone else. With JIRA, someone on the engineering team said, “Hey, we need to use this product.” With Slack, it was someone on one of our teams that said, “Hey, I have to use to communicate with Salesforce, or someone on the sales team, or someone managing the customers.” Do you think that in terms of building community and maybe Leslie, we could go to you with this, do you have to have a product that is crushing it, that is about the IPO allegedly? Or has already IPO? When is the right time of the lifecycle do you think to start thinking about building community?

[0:08:23.1] LL: I think you could start at the very nascent stages. It does have to start with a product that people love and that is easy for people to adopt and take from there. I think that's a critical ingredient, but you don't have to wait until you're at a certain point in the lifecycle. Like okay, now it's the time where we can now invest in community and the fans. Actually from the very beginning, I think that's a very important part of the marketing piece. Actually, the most cost effective and probably the piece that's going to have the longest term return in the long run.

[0:08:59.4] DA: Erica, and it's really easy now to say, “Oh, Trailblazer. Such a no-brainer.” It brings life to the brand, you got all these passionate people walking around Dreamforce, repping Salesforce. In the early days, I guess in the same question like, when is the right time to think about community? Because it seems almost today, if you're not thinking about it, at least for my perspective, you're already behind, if you're not planning for the very early stages. In early days of Salesforce, how did people start to get behind the idea and believe in it?

[0:09:32.8] EK1: I think it was just giving – This is so long ago that it really wasn't a thing. Really, I just anchored it on something that we know we had a problem. We had a problem keeping up with scale. We were already freeing on so many customers so fast and then have a way for them to connect with each other. This is before there were designated Salesforce jobs. People were doing Salesforce and other things there by themselves often at their companies just trying to make a movement happen, trying to transform their business and they have a way to connect with other people.

It just saw a problem and I figured out a way to solve it. That is the absolute way that it started is just identifying something very specific that we needed solved and they didn't have any money and they didn't have any resources, but I knew what was right. I knew that we had customers that needed that. That's how it started.

[0:10:26.2] DA: Talk us through the profile of someone at Salesforce that engages in the MVP program or the Trailblazer groups program. Who is this person? What's in it for them, if I could say selfishly, their rep in Salesforce every – you can start to see what's in it for Salesforce, but what do they get out of it other than you said a hoodie earlier. I know they get a lot more than a hoodie, but what else do they get? What's in it for them?

[0:10:50.7] EK1: Well, I think that's one very critical thing is to build successful programs. You do need to know what they want out of it. I felt this was a critical opportunity to do something that people forget, which is just ask the people what they want and why they're doing what they're doing. I took that critical step and asked, instead of thinking that I knew the answers. You build a community for a reason that I was right and I was wrong.

When I finally got this group together that would eventually be my first MVPs, they told me they wanted basically access and reputation. Those are the two things they wanted. Some of them wanted both, some of them wanted one more than the other access to product managers, access to pre-release information, access to me, access to each other, something that could make them better at their job more effective, more efficiently. Then they want a reputation. They wanted to build their brand. They wanted to be recognized at our keynotes. They wanted to meet executives and they wanted a brand they could put on their resume that would propel them forward in their careers.

Everything that I did to build these programs was anchored on those two things still to this day. That's the essence of what I think an MVP, or a community group leader wants is they want those things. I give them as much as I can, because the – like Leslie was saying, the output back is enormous to Salesforce. We just want to keep the balance more towards what we give them.

[0:12:20.7] DA: Leslie, I know at Atlassian that after every single event that you run, you have a huge survey rating NPS, process gathering feedback. Can you talk about the role the feedback plays in Atlassian’s process of helping these people?

[0:12:36.8] LL: Yeah. Well, we think it's very important to always close the feedback loop. One of the elements of access is that user group members and people within the community have access to Atlassian’s and to our product managers and giving feedback gets routed back into the company. When we looked at the survey results – so after each user group, what we found is that people who attended user groups actually have higher NPS than people who don't. That's correlation and not causation. When we put all these points of correlation together, we saw there's something really powerful happening when users come together and sharing use cases.

We're not the experts in their use cases. We're not the experts in how its deployed in automotive and with certain ISO standards, but they are. When they connect together, they're getting more benefit out of it and their engagement is higher, their NPS is higher and satisfaction. That's all part of what we get from the surveys.

[0:13:37.8] DA: Elizabeth, when you were running the community programs at Branch, Branch was a very small company at the time. It's now much, much bigger. I think they've raised over a 100 million dollars at this point. Maybe you could just talk a little bit about how in a smaller company in the earliest stages, how the company looked at building this community and how that over time as the company grew, what impact it had to start early and small and take it from there.

[0:14:04.7] EK2: I think originally, the really important thing was that it wasn't about the company. The community was about sharing knowledge and making sure that we were connecting the right people in a room that could communicate with each other and help each other grow. It was no surprise. It's called mobile growth and that was the whole point, figure out how to build a business on an app. I think that one of the things that we thought about in the beginning was how do you make sure that you still connect your brand if it isn't about your product necessarily?

A lot of that as the company continued to grow, that became more and more important. I think one of the things that was the anchor through all of the changes that happened on all of the different decisions that were made was that it was really about the people that were showing up to the events. It was really about the people that were engaging when we had an online forum. It was really about the people that were at the center of it. Even though I needed to make sure that I was justifying my existence and my role, I really was a champion for them as well.

[0:15:08.5] DA: Yeah. I think one of the things too that those events that you did was you started to of course, there are potential customers in the audience, there are existing customers in the audience. Then you also – you brought these people onto the stage as well. Could you just talk a little bit about what you did with that?

[0:15:25.0] EK2: Yeah. I think that one of the things that worked really well with that was identifying the people that we thought were really amazing and experts. Making sure that there was a diverse set of people that were up on this stage. That really helped to make people feel they were part of the community and that they could show up and see someone like them talking about the same problems that they had.

By making those people experts and by really helping them feel like they knew what they were doing. It built their confidence, but it also built their confidence in the business and built their confidence and their interactions with us. It was a really powerful thing to do to say you're not our customer, but think what you're doing is amazing and we want you to be able to tell that story. It really made people happy to hear that, that it wasn't about us.

[0:16:12.3] DA: We've seen this backlash to the digital world, social media, Alexis Ohanian recently said, “We've hit peak social.” Forster has said that 2019 is the year to invest in humans, that the backlash over chatbots and AI is starting to really bubble up. We see this in the news literally almost every day. In wonder, Erica, as we talk about – the bottom line for everybody is what does these things come down to as I'm trying to figure out which programs am I going to invest, what types of marketing am I going to build for the future for?

Community, marketing is one of these things that’s sort of – as in historically, this is totally changing, but historically sit in a gray world of is it a nice to do? Is it a must have? Is it hard to measure? I wonder if you could just talk a little bit about how over time how you all have – how you justify these programs with people inside the organization, how which apparently Marc Benioff now gets it, loves it and is all on board, but I assume it wasn't like that from day one. How have you done that?

[0:17:18.6] EK1: Yeah. It's an evolution and it starts with little quantifiable things. I think that you can have aspirational goals for what you want to achieve with a community, but you have to be anchored in the person and the human at the beginning, or else they're going to be able to sniff it out. That still doesn't mean you can't have little milestones along the way that you're trying to achieve. For me, it was about finding little things that my executives could say and regurgitate quickly.

Early on, we had pretty much only announcers for him. It was about getting them cost offsets and about answered questions and about how much was peer-to-peer, versus how much were experts within our own company. When I gave him those little tidbits, they could say them and then they could regurgitate them up the chain. That was really good. Then it was about sipping to the next level and figuring out now, how can I make this more impactful to the business?

A community strategist historically is not very data-driven back in the day. Now we definitely have to be, so I got great advice to take a step back and really think about how to attach it to our overall company metrics. I sit in the product organization and what matters to the product organization is a certain thing. I made sure that I could correlate the data directly to the top four metrics that matter to our product organization and that's driving pipeline, driving ACV, Annual Contract Value, driving adoption of our product and attrition.

I was able to take a step back and because we have access to a lot of data at Salesforce, so I was able to bring some really, really strong metrics. It took me a while and an evolution to get there. It started with something as simple as how many questions are getting answered to now being able to correlate it to bottom business line value.

[0:19:05.1] DA: Leslie, when we started working together about two years ago it was Atlassian user groups. Now you have Confluency, you have JIRA, you have Trello, you have these – it's expanding, it's growing. I wonder if you could talk about – answer that same questions, how have you all developed buy-in across the organization, which seems to be growing and expanding the program?

[0:19:28.4] LL: Well, I agree with Erica that it's an evolution. It really is a buy-in journey. When I started almost four years ago, we just had the user groups offline. Like I was saying earlier, we started to prove okay, people who attend user groups are more likely to renew our products, are less likely to churn, have higher NPS. It's not surprising, they're more engaged, but also from survey data that we do after each user group, we see that okay, they're saying that the user groups are helpful for them in being able to spread Atlassian within their organization and being able to use the products better.

Then when we expanded to online, we could have went with the small vegetable steps. Okay, how can we deflect support volume? We know that in a very known and quantifiable way what it means to have one support person be deflected on the community, to answer more questions that support volume and that was able to quantify.

Every step along the way, we still have to – when we launch the online community, what I would have loved is a mandate for all product managers must spend X amount of hours in the community engaging with customers. We didn't give that mandate. We'd still had to create buy-in with each of the product organizations.

What we did is identify a product manager that was friendly and open and have them see success in how they're interacting with customers, how it's improving how they're building features and then have that success story spread within the product organization. Also with engagement revenue, running in-app experiments where community is in the evaluation funnel, or within the – within after usage of 30 days introducing community to product users, and then seeing AB testing if they're using the products more. Being able to prove all those things has helped in many different ways, has helped to increase the buy-in within the organization.

[0:21:24.5] DA: I've heard it referred to what your describing is C2C, or customer to customer marketing, where you empower and engage your customers to then take the torch for you, to then advocate for new customers and finding value for them across that chain. That really is the story I think of Slack's growth is someone tells someone else, tells someone else and that's how it's grown. What do you Elizabeth has again, as you all start to put this, or putting this program together, how are you thinking about outreach, about getting it started, about getting people to latch on from the beginning to eventually turning it into something much bigger?

[0:22:07.9] EK2: I think we're really lucky in that we already have a lot of super-fans. It's in one way, that is a huge advantage because there's already people that are really passionate about how Slack helps improve their life and makes them better at work and streamlines processes and they can only go to one place where they have to do all their work and they don't have to contact switch all the time. People are really excited about that already.

On the other hand, there's so many different Slack users; there's Slack developers, there's people who are administrators on Slack. Each one of those groups has a different need and the community that we build around them is going to be a little bit different. I think that we're thinking about it both from the what is the segment of user and person that's going to be in these individual communities? How do we tie them all together?

I'm really lucky with the developer community. They were some of the first adopters of Slack. They are some of the folks that are the heaviest Slack users. They're extra passionate. I don’t know if you can exponentially turn up a superfan, but that's what our developers are and we're very, very grateful and lucky.

For me, a lot of it is surfacing the people that are already doing things. There are people out there who are already creating presentations around what they built on Slack, how they were able to streamline some process. There are people that are just passionate about figuring out little hacks in Slack, like how can I make an app to do this.

A lot of what I'm doing right now is we're putting the program together. It's figuring out who are those people, what will they get out of the community in the same way that Erica was talking about, so that we can continue to build that. A lot of it as you get going is about focusing on a couple of people with an eye for scale, but not anticipating that that's what it's going to turn into.

If you tried to do – if you try to build a program thinking like this is going to be the biggest thing in the world and it's going to blow up and it's going to be so amazing, you're not really focused on what your purpose is, or just serving those people, right? You need to tie it back to a business goal and there's always something that you can connect it with. Before you get to the massive scale, you have to build something small.

[0:24:17.3] DA: Sometimes when I talk to people about building community, they'll say that they have concerns about what it's – that it could negatively impact their brand. You have superfan evangelists. That's great, but at some point it maybe gets to fanatic and extremists inside of the brand or something, I don't know, where the scale is of engagement. Do you all have – Erica or Leslie, either of you, do you worry about that? Do you have issues? Does it not happen? Does it happen? You're handing brand over to somebody else and it’s scary.

[0:24:54.0] EK1: Yeah. Of course it happens. If you think you can control it all, you shouldn't be in the business of community, because the business of community is not controlling things, but it's creating some boundaries. It's like the bowling alley with the bumpers. That's what you need to do. There's going to be negativity and your goal is to turn that negativity into superfans and it happens and it's unbelievable when it does.

My theory when someone has a passion to voice their concerns to you, it's passion, it means they care, and so you can do – you could take it and you can turn it into something great and I have a million examples of how that can happen. I won’t go into all of them, but I think that I love passion.

I feel another thing is if you don't provide them a mechanism to say it, they're going to go say it somewhere else and then you don't get to see it. They're just going to talk behind your back, and so why not provide them an infrastructure to say it to you and then allow you the opportunity to react to it? It's going to happen and you just have to have a way to respond to it and be transparent. I can't stress that enough is transparency is probably the most critical thing in building a really passionate community.

[0:26:09.3] LL: Completely agree with Erica. I do remember a conversation where we had with executives about are we okay with these negative comments on the community? Do we want to control it? I mean, our culture is about open. Jay was here earlier talking about our open culture and that extends to our customers and the transparency we want to give to our customers. No, we didn't want to. It's going to happen and we want to know about it, we want to engage with customers around that.

There have been some really tough times when for example, when we announced the end-of-life first ride and the partnership with Slack. That was really tough. We had some champions really upset with us and being very vocal about it in our community. It can be a little scary. How do we engage? The point is you have to engage. Then that engagement helps to diffuse the anger and just being really honest. We're very sorry and we know that it's – that it can really hurt, and here are the decisions behind it and that really helped the community to rally behind that decision.

[0:27:13.6] DA: When we were building Startup Grind, this is one of things I always feared and it was this fear that never happened really. I mean, of the 10,000 or something events, so we've got on a 15,000, like maybe two or three things that I wasn't – or I was really concerned about, but of all the – the millions of interactions that happened, the thousands of events, the millions of e-mails, tens of millions of e-mails that went out, I think as long as we found – we found these people that matched our values and what we were really about and we made mistakes on some and we got it right sometimes. As long as we got the right people there, generally speaking we had good results from those people. Erica, is that your experience at Salesforce? How important are just picking the right people, or getting the right people engaged?

[0:28:05.2] EK1: Yeah. I don't think too much about it that way. I I just want to create a really trusted, open environment. Salesforce, I feel super fortunate to be at a company like Salesforce. It's rooted really, really strongly in values. I've anchored again, I said anchored fourth time, but it's true. All these things, they're based on values and I think as long as we have these shared values, the community has grown up with those values and they take it on and it's their home, it's their environment, they protect it. They keep other things out. They provide them with almost templatized responses to what they can say to help you keep out some of that negativity.

It draws the right people in that way. I don't go picking particular people. I also just, I'm lucky to have a leader that's so passionate about customer feedback. He craves it. He wants it. The worse the better actually. It's a really lucky environment to be in where we can create this really, really open, transparent world where customer feedback has to happen. That's been a lucky combination for us having rooted values and a really, really open leader for customer feedback.

[0:29:23.0] DA: Elizabeth, at Slack what types of engagement metrics affect the bottom line, or ultimately that the marketing organization? What types of things are they looking for, say like, “This is important to us. This is important to us. This is important to us.” What moves the needle?

[0:29:37.9] EK2: I can only say so much on a quiet period. I don't know if you heard. There's some stuff going on at Slack. I can say that what we look for constantly is the level of craftsmanship in affecting those metrics. I think that that is what moves the needle the most and what has been one of the hallmarks of why Slack has been so successful is that craftsmanship and those values that we're talking about are at the center of everything.

I think that when we look at what we want to do to move a metric, or what things that we're measuring ourselves again, it against a lot of the time it comes back to our – if we're being thoughtful and if we're caring about our customers and we're creating that craftsmanship and that value for them, we'll be able to pull out the right information and move the bottom line in the way that we want to.

[0:30:25.8] DA: Yeah. How about you Leslie? At Atlassian, what types of things are important metrics to hit in community? Or maybe not even Atlassian, in your other experience with other communities.

[0:30:34.9] LL: Within the community, our main metrics are around monthly active users, the number of visitors into the community, right? The people that return within the 90 days, so the retention and the number of contributors; so those that visit the community, how many actually go on to contribute. That's how we measure the health of the community. There's also the support goals around percentage of questions that are answered within 24 hours and first response rate and accepted answer rate. That's also a support element. We measure all that to look at the health of the community.

[0:31:11.5] DA: Erica, how about you?

[0:31:12.8] EK1: Yeah, definitely health and wellness. I ship out all of that data on a monthly basis to a number of different cost companies, stakeholders that care deeply. We have a very hub-and-spoke model. We on the community team enable our organization to be able to run their own metrics and check the health and wellness of their sub-communities they run on the Trailblazer community. I look at it almost every day. I alluded to this earlier that there's four overarching metrics that drive all of my business, and it also has driven the size of my team and the size of my budget.

It's very unique, because in a community environment the size of your budget just goes right back to the community, so they're very proud when the budget grows, or when your team grows, which is a unique thing. We've been able similar to drive correlation very strong and tight correlation that individuals that contribute to our community. This is not a huge amount of contribution, it's posting, voting, commenting, asking a question, or answering a question in a 12-month period of time, which is not a lot. That's table stakes.

They are driving to times larger deal sizes to Salesforce. They're two and a half times larger ACV. They are driving 40% higher adoption of our products and they're four times less likely to attrit. These are insane numbers. They're jaw-dropping to our leadership, because you would think that this is common. You're creating this environment where people are engaging, your product manager in there, you're providing them input to your feedback or to your product, but unless you can prove it and Salesforce is big time data. If you can't prove it, it doesn't matter what Forrester says, it doesn’t matter what Gartner says. If Salesforce is able to prove it, then it matters. Those numbers drove the success of community at Salesforce almost fundamentally.

[0:33:04.9] DA: Can I just drill into any one of those that you're up for talking about. How do I just logistically figure out that number? Someone comes into a Trailblazer user group event in Des Moines, Iowa. Then they give you their e-mail address and their information. How do then find out what value they've – how that value increases?

[0:33:29.6] EK1: I mean, this is not a Salesforce plug at all. This is Bevy. I sit on top of Salesforce, so my community lives on the top of our CRM. Our CRM has all of this data. I'm not a data scientist and I don't know anything really about driving deals at Salesforce, because that's not my job, but I have access to it. I know that when you log in that you're Derek from Bevy and Bevy has X number of deals, and I know how you're using our products. I know what products you're using, I know how often you're using them. Then I grab that data and I match it up to someone that's not in a community group.

Then I just look at you side by side and I say, “Well, Bob is not in the community and he's not contributing to our community. Derek is. Therefore, Derek is more successful.” Now I know you're out there probably thinking, “Well, you could look at it the other way around,” and that's totally true, but I choose to look at it this way. I think it's strong. I think the correlation is strong. We prove it over and over again. You used to do just login. You just were doing when you logged into the community. Now we're doing contribution and we saw similar numbers. It's data. It's having access to data is golden, is golden, drives every decision that we make.

[0:34:43.7] DA: As we as we look and we've got three experts decades of experience in building community here and probably the rest of us do not have as much experience. If I'm trying to figure this out and I want to get ahead of what's coming over the next few years, let's start with you Elizabeth and then Leslie and then Erica, just tell us what do you see coming? What is the future of community look like, or – and it could be exactly what you're already doing, but where do you see things going if I want to stay ahead with my company?

[0:35:14.9] EK2: I think generally, the future of community is in connecting the online with the offline. I think that figuring out a way to continually activate the people that are in your community is going to be very beneficial, not just for brands, but also B2C. I think there's a lot of really great companies out there that are doing really interesting things to connect the online and the offline.

[0:35:37.6] DA: Any in particular, or –

[0:35:38.7] EK2: I think Duolingo is a great one. They have a great community online. They have a great community offline. They give a lot of autonomy to their community and I think that that's a big key in successful communities is letting people do what they want to do within constraints, within those bumper rails. I do think that a lot of what the future is is figuring out what the balance is between those two, because they won't stay separate forever. You're going to have people that go back and forth no matter what.

[0:36:07.3] LL: I agree completely. I think another element of where community going is that it's it'd be a critical part of the extension of your brand. It's critical to get that piece right. It's going to be customers speaking on your behalf for your brand. One thing we found out is that when we put social ads on and we can put our own ad in, that when we compare it to a community ad that's around someone in the community that's written an article about how they've used your Confluence, we get higher click-through rates, lower CPC rates.

It's people want to hear from other customers, rather than the product marketers within Atlassian. They want to hear from each other to sell the brand. I think that's really where community is going. It's important to see it critically as a part of your brand.

[0:36:58.0] EK1: I would say that I'm excited about AI. I think that that's my next evolution is how do I take these amazing advocates that we've grown and let them do something new and more sophisticated in our community? Take AI and really pump a lot of that into our community. They can answer the questions now instead of our amazing advocates and they can have a new evolution of what they're going to. I'm really excited about that. My brain can't even bend around all the ways that I think we can use AI in our community, but there's definitely in our answers forum and our idea exchange we have some great ideas and I think it's best evolution for us is AI.

[0:37:36.5] DA: Okay. Let's give it up for Elizabeth, Leslie, and Erica. Thank you for being here.


[0:37:41.2] DA: Thank you so much for listening. If you liked the show, please leave a review wherever you listen to this. If you like to see more about how to create your own event community, go to bevylabs.com/pod. Again, that's B-E-V-Y-L-A-B-S.com/pod.


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