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Confessions of A Natural Born Evangelist

Electronic red megaphone on stand.

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by Liza Sperling

In the past month, I have been asked if I work for Eye-Fi, Posterous, Twitter, even Friendfeed.  I don't work for any of these companies, but I do talk about them a lot. The only way to describe my relationship is as an "evangelist."

What is an evangelist? Beyond it's old school, religious roots, an evangelist has been redefined in the technology community as shorthand for a passionate user, fan or cheerleader for of particular product or brand. To clarify my thoughts, I asked others this question on Friendfeed and Twitter to see others' opinions (http://ff.im/6povW). Here are some of the responses:

  1. Someone who is so passionate about the product/service/cause that he/she is willing to spend the time/energy to spread the word about to everyone even without any compensation. – Claire Chang
  2. Someone who consistently promotes an idea, concept, technology or some other tangible or intangible entity for its own sake. – LANjackal
  3. An empowered and knowledgeable cheerleader. – Andy Sternberg
  4. It's someone that knows a lot about a product and that looks to promote or spread the good that product makes to other people. For example, promoting apple's many features like, easy to use, better performance, best software, etc. An example, could it be Scoble and Friend Feed. – Jorge
  5. Someone who spreads the good news about something. – Gus
  6. Someone who loves and pimps the hell out of something they love to do – Holden (First God Of FF)

Evangelists are self-motivated and are expressing their views because it is their nature to support what they love. They are not seeking pay for their efforts, but that does not mean it is is a thankless task.  There is an enormous amount of joy in contributing to success. It is irrelevant whether I am talking to peers or perfect strangers, I will always support what I love, whether it is my favorite novel, coffee shop or technology.

As an evangelist, I find my enthusiasm is often misunderstood. We are intelligent and, as power users, we typically know a great deal about the ideas we support.  Don't underestimate our intelligence or think of us as groupies.  We are also quick to acknowledge flaws and a big part of our role is to suggest ways to improve the products, so criticism is fair game.

Many of the people we look to to provide guidance in the age of new media will tell companies the importance of finding individuals who will pick up the prodigal torch and express enthusiasm for their ideas and products

The challenge is not finding evangelists but creating them. Can you create evangelists? Probably not, but you can nurture them by recognizing who these individuals are and responding to them as if they do work for you.  We are not asking for much in return for our word of mouth support, no money or swag, we seek transparency to better understand your products, feedback to our suggestions and the tools to respond to others' questions. Sounds like a fair trade to me, what do you think?

Liza Sperling

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  1. Mahendra Palsule
    August 18, 2009 at 3:46 am
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