The Role of Evangelist For Web 2.0 Companies

How do web 2.0 / consumer web app-ish type companies generate buzz for their free product or service online? Online promotions? Email blasts? Pray to be TechCrunched?

I’ve seen an increasing number of companies do all this and one thing more: hire low-cost "evangelists" to sit at a computer all day and talk up their company’s free service.

Imagine if you had one person whose sole purpose in life was to personally reach out to potential users, surf blogs and message boards and comment favorably about the company’s service, and attend MeetUps and informal confabs. While this might seem like generic marketing or sales duties, in a web 2.0 word, it’s a different personality: it’s a single person with a friendly face do one-on-one marketing with influential bloggers or podcasters.

The economics aren’t necessarily obvious: Pay someone $30-40k a year to be an evangelist? How do you measure success? I don’t think you easily can. But it seems like many companies are at least giving it a try…with the hopes that with enough critical mass they, too, can reach the tipping point that Twitter seems to have hit at the South by Southwest Conference.

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