Big News: My New Gig At Salesforce

7 May

Since I announced my departure from Yammer a few weeks ago, people have been wondering about my next steps. Today, you don’t have to wonder anymore! Cue drumroll… This week, I’m joining Salesforce, where I will be helping companies create excellent communities of their own, and working with the Salesforce organization to develop internal excellence around communities. As we all know, successful community building fully depends on culture and execution, and is supported by technology.

My career goals

When thinking about my next opportunity, I took some time to really consider what I’m passionate about and how I can make the most impact in the world. I am personally and professionally extremely vested in helping companies do better with their communities. As interest in business communities reaches a fever pitch, execution still lags, as businesses struggle to understand how to make their communities strategic and successful.

While business leaders understand on an abstract level that communities are important, there’s a lot that happens between that realization and having a thriving community that meets business objectives. For business leaders, it’s critical to understand business value of communities and know how to support it – beyond giving a stamp of approval. Executives and heads of business need to have a working knowledge of what a community is and isn’t, what it takes to be successful, and the ongoing organizational and cultural commitment they need to provide. They also need to understand the role that they themselves play in modeling the right behaviors that help communities succeed.

For community managers and strategists, it’s not a trivial task to drum up executive support, map to business goals (and consistently measure against them), get heads of business on their side, work across the organization and not in a silo – not to mention community design, adoption strategies, engagement building, and eventually changing the culture of the company. As businesses are trying to figure out the why of communities, community managers are working on the how. Many community managers are in roles, where they don’t have the support and the tools to be successful. I’ve been working hard at helping companies address these challenges, by leading communities and by openly blogging and speaking on the subject. There’s clearly a hunger for this kind of information, as evidenced by how deeply the Community Management Playbook resonated. I’m excited to continue doing exactly this, at a much bigger scale and with greater impact.

What I’ll be doing

I will be joining the Chatter product team, working on the Chatter Communities product, the community platform that enables customer companies to reimagine how they work with customers and partners — combining the power of social networking with business processes (check out this video for more).

While my official title is Director of Product Marketing, my job will be a hybrid role between a community coach, developer of best practices and product marketer — helping the company take the right message to the market and support its customers in community excellence from a strategic and executional perspective. As I’ve done in the past, I’ll focus on developing written assets, such as playbooks, e-books, blogposts, as well as publicly speaking, working with analysts and industry, and working with the Salesforce customer community to increase adoption. Working on the Chatter product team is the best of both worlds: the backing of a large, world-class company with an enduring reputation and iconic customers, while working with a really smart, flat, entrepreneurial team. We are still defining the role, and it will continue to morph and change – which is just the way I like it! And who knows, maybe I’ll come up with a new title that will more accurately describe what I do.

Why I’m excited about it

This is a big deal; it’s a huge opportunity that’s consistent with my goal of really making a huge difference in how businesses think of and execute on open collaboration inside and outside of company lines. The opportunity in front of me is twofold: help guide how Salesforce as a company talks about communities, as well as develop the tools to help customers and the business world at large. I’ll be talking to a few key audiences: I will be helping executives and business leaders to understand communities, which is super important for the reasons I listed above, as well as working with community managers (the tribe I love!) to help them take their craft to new heights and get the support they need within their companies.

I couldn’t be joining a better company at a better time. Salesforce’s ethos of a Customer Company is greatly in line with my own thinking and set of values. I believe that today, the single biggest opportunity for businesses is to help their customers have experiences worth sharing, and activate employees and partners to work towards that same goal. By helping customers, partners and employees work together in an open way, companies become adaptable and make better decisions, making themselves better in the process. The Salesforce technology stack allows all these parties to connect in a truly meaningful and intelligent way, and connected to business processes — and communities are front and center to this strategy.

  • ginarau

    Congrats on the new gig! What an exciting (and fun) opportunity. We’re partners with Salesforce and I’ve enjoyed working with all the different folks over there committed to what they do every day. Best wishes!

    • themaria

      Thanks, Gina! I’m looking forward to working with you.

  • angusnelson

    Heaps and heaps of Congrats!

    • themaria

      Thanks, Angus!!

  • joeciarallo

    So glad to have you at salesforce! Welcome.

    • themaria

      Thrilled to be here! Looking forward to working together.

  • Tessa Horehled

    Very nice! Hope to work with you soon. :)

    • themaria

      Always! :) Thanks, Tessa!

  • Charlie Isaacs

    I knew that I would get a chance to work with you one day :) Welcome aboard Maria!

    • themaria

      Haha pretty exciting! Looking forward to changing the world together!

  • Gavin Heaton

    Congratulations Maria. You’re a great addition to the Salesforce team!

    • themaria

      Thanks, Gavin! Looking forward to catching up next time you are stateside (or if I’m in your neck of the woods — I hope so!!)

  • LesyaNovak

    It looks like Yammer is clearly falling apart. Bitrix24 is clearly the leader among small biz social and enterprise clients are switching to Moxie, Tibbr and Podio. I don’t think that Chatter is a big threat but Yammer is finished.

  • Jeremiah Owyang

    Congrats to your moves!

    • themaria

      Thanks, Jeremiah! Excited to massively help the world understand communities better — at a great company.

  • marcusnelson

    Hope the role becomes everything you’ve ever wanted in a job! Congrats!

    • themaria

      Thanks, Marcus! Thank you also for your support in my job search — this wouldn’t have happened without you :)

  • Alan Lepofsky

    Mazel Tov!

    • themaria

      Thanks, Alan! Looking forward to catching up!

  • Mike Fraietta

    Love this so much. Congratulations, Maria! Salesforce has chosen….wisely. :-)

    • themaria

      Thanks, Mike!! Great seeing you here, and thanks for the comment. Remember way back in the day, when we did social media listening for our respective companies? :)

  • Elmhurst Locksmith Service

    I am always pro collaboration. I think you are entrusted with a big and exciting responsibility. Congratulations.