The Salesforce Ecosystem has one of the best communities I have ever come across in the world of business. Salesforce’s CEO and Founder Marc Benioff, has done a fantastic job of fostering a supportive, welcoming, and diverse community, built around its products.
At the heart of the community are certain individuals who act as role models, and hold core roles in creating content on various formats such as LinkedIn, via a blog, or in-person at community user groups. This article explores why these roles are so important, and what you can do to become a pillar of the Salesforce community in the form of an MVP or Salesforce Influencer.
What is the Salesforce Community?
In my opinion, the Salesforce community is mostly made up of individuals who do not work for Salesforce. They work for end-users, ISV’s, Salesforce Consultancies, non-profits, or perhaps as a freelancer. In other words, they are mostly in the weeds working technical Salesforce professionals, or perhaps in other go-to-market or support roles.
Salesforce, it’s founders, and the community team who work for Salesforce have fostered this community, providing various mediums for people in the Salesforce ecosystem to connect with one another.
Since Salesforce started these community initiatives, the Salesforce ecosystem community has taken on a life of it’s own. A great example of this is community events, such as MidWest Dreamin’, the first of which was organized by Eric Dreshfield in 2011. There are now over 30+ large-scale community events around the world, such as CactusForce, Japan Dreamin’, French Touch Dreamin’ and London’s Calling.
But in 2024, and particularly over the last few years, the Salesforce community is taking on new forms as the world of digital media evolves.
At SalesforceBen, for example, we are lucky to have over 1,000,000 visits a month to our site, and see ourselves as the go-to media platform for those wanting to stay abreast of everything going on in the ecosystem.
You also have an increasing number of Influencers/Creators on LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, and their own websites. These Creators are increasingly focused on niches within the Salesforce community such as Flow’s and DevOps.
This influencer/creator space is becoming really interesting, and it’s something I see growing significantly over the next few years. As Salesforce grows, with more people entering the ecosystem, there becomes an ever-growing need for new creators to step up and focus on one niche area such as Marketing Cloud, Mulesoft, Salesforce Project Management, and many other areas.
With this in mind, could this be the year you begin your creator journey? In this article, I’m going to dive into some of the differences between the classic MVP route, and the more modern Influencer route.
But if you already know this is something you want to embark on, we have just launched a creator program at SalesforceBen in hopes of helping the next generation of influencers learn about content creation, as well as getting you connected to brands who can fund your endeavors. Find out more information and sign up here!
Salesforce MVP vs. Influencers
So, what exactly is the difference between a Salesforce MVP and an Influencer?
Let’s start with a Salesforce MVP, as this is perhaps easier to define. The Salesforce MVP program began in 2010 to annually showcase and celebrate individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities in the Salesforce community.
So how do you become an MVP? Well, it’s not an easy process. You need to get through three rounds of voting by three distinct groups of people.
- First up, there is a round of nominations by the Salesforce community. Anyone can vote for you, and you can self-nominate to get yourself considered.
- Secondly, Salesforce MVPs will provide feedback on these nominations, but strictly only for people they actually know. Of course, MVPs cannot provide feedback for people they do not know.
- Lastly, the Salesforce community team will ultimately choose who is successful in this annual voting process.
Typically, there are hundreds of people voted into the MVP process and only a handful make it through. In addition to the fact you will be up against others with significant contributions, you also need to be well-known by the Salesforce community, other MVPs, as well as Salesforce themselves. If one of these groups does not know you, it will be hard to get through all the stages.
Becoming a Salesforce MVP is an ultimate career goal for many people in the Salesforce ecosystem. But if you were to ask a Salesforce MVP the best way to become one, they would probably answer “Don’t try and become a Salesforce MVP”.
Although this might sound a bit weird, the reasoning behind it is that you shouldn’t try and become an MVP in some artificial way, you should give back to the Salesforce community out of the goodness of your heart, and if your journey of giving back leads you to become a Salesforce MVP, fantastic! If not, then it shouldn’t matter, as you have still done so much good for the community.
Now we’ve covered Salesforce MVPs, what exactly is a Salesforce Influencer?
Merriam-Webster defines an influencer as “one who exerts influence: a person who inspires or guides the actions of others”.
I would say this definition fits perfectly for those in the Salesforce ecosystem. The Salesforce Influencer generation mainly consists of those who have a large following on social media, who create content in various forms, and who help guide or mentor their following in specific Salesforce niches.
Whilst the Salesforce MVP program has been around since 2010, and you could probably call these individuals the original Salesforce Influencers, the modern creator economy has only really taken off in the past four years or so. There has been a huge increase in Salesforce creators on LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and those with their own blogs.
Why is this? I would say purely down to demand and the way people enjoy consuming media in the modern era.
If we rewind back to March 2014 when I founded Salesforce Ben, there were very limited Salesforce resources. You had official Salesforce documentation and a handful of blogs. This changed pretty dramatically in 2014 when Salesforce launched Trailhead, but there was still a huge amount of potential for other creators to fill gaps.
For example, whilst Salesforce has created a lot of resources for Salesforce Flow (especially since retiring workflow rules and process builder), there is still a huge demand for tips to initially learn flow, and to help advance knowledge. This is why creators such as Stephen Church, Tim Combridge and Steven Trumble have over 30,000 followers combined. The same can be said for the Salesforce DevOps space, with thought leaders such as Andrew Davis, Vernon Keenan and Pablo Gonzalez.
Are Influencers Controversial?
Before I jump into our final section on how to become a Salesforce Influencer, I want to address the elephant in the room: are influencers controversial, and is the word a bit dirty?
In a poll I conducted on LinkedIn, I was interested in hearing whether people had considered becoming an Influencer due to the demand in this space. Although I wasn’t surprised at the amount of “Hell no’s” (There is always going to be a large subset of people who would rather not share anything online and that’s completely fine), I was surprised to see the amount of people who had thought about it.
But the consensus was clear from the comments that people dislike the word “Influencer”, as it conjures up images of scammers, TikTok dancers getting in the way of the general public, and people creating shallow content just to get likes, and sell courses.
Although Influencer is an industry term, I can relate to this feedback, which is why we’ve chosen to call our new program, the Salesforce Ben Creator Program.
Although the images that the word Influencer conjures up sit mostly outside the world of Salesforce, some in the Salesforce ecosystem generally dislike “Salesforce Influencers”, as they are considered disingenuous and fishing for likes.
I can relate to this, and I think there are going to be some bad eggs in any industry. When people see opportunities to build a following and make some money, there are always going to be those who want to take shortcuts to get there.
However, I think the Influencer/Creator economy in the Salesforce ecosystem is amazing and is ultimately helping thousands of people with questions and content every single day. There are always going to be a few bad eggs, but don’t let these people alter your view of the genuine creators out there.
How to Become a Salesforce Influencer
Unlike the advice to become a Salesforce MVP which in general is “you shouldn’t”, I would actively encourage anyone who wants to help others to become a Salesforce Influencer or Creator.
You might see the word Influencer and immediately think “Yeah! Becoming an Influencer sounds great, and I can make a bit of money on the side!”. While this is true, it shouldn’t be your motivation for building a following. Those that are in it for the money will be quickly weeded out by the community.
There are plenty of people I know who now make full-time living out of the Salesforce content they create, but they spent years building up a genuine following before they could even consider doing this.
In our Salesforce Creator Program, we are going to be creating a course for those who are approved to help refine their content creation skills while also giving you a flavor of what is required to become a Salesforce Influencer. This would be my advice…
- Firstly, you need to pick a platform. In the 21st century, we are blessed with many forms of content mediums beyond TV, Radio and Print. This includes short form and full-length videos, LinkedIn Statuses, Images, live streaming platforms, podcasts, and course creation. Becoming an Influencer is all based on content, and you must pick a medium that you are passionate about and have an interest in.
- Secondly, you need to pick a niche within Salesforce. As the Salesforce platform grows, there become even more niche communities with the larger Salesforce community. I provided some examples of these above in the form of Salesforce Flows and DevOps, but there will be many more around. This includes role-based niches such as marketing or developer, product-based niches such as Tableau or Pardot, and feature-based niches such as Omnistudio or Reporting.
- Next, you need to stand out. Let’s say you are a flow wizard and want to start building a following around learning Flow for entry-level Admins. This sounds like a pretty good niche, but there are already probably 20+ large Flow influencers I can think of, including some mentioned above.
This doesn’t mean it’s a no-go, but you will be facing an uphill battle if you are doing something similar to the other Flow influencers out there. Whilst it’s a challenge to start doing things differently, this is exactly how you find your niche within a niche! If you want a bit of advice, Miss Excel has built up an empire of $2m in annual revenue and millions of online followers on TikTok and Instagram for her short-form videos. With these platforms becoming the default way many Gen Z’s receive their news and information, this would probably be a good bet in 2024.
- My penultimate bit of advice, and something I think is vital for any creator, is to become incredible at storytelling. Storytelling is the crux of what content is, you need your videos, courses, or blogs to be highly engaging and interesting.
Story-telling isn’t easy to learn and is a skill you build up over time; my advice would be to plan out every piece of content you want to create in advance.
What topics do you want to cover? Are you introducing a concept without first providing context? Are you using too many words to describe this concept? Are you waffling? Was that paragraph/word even necessary? Who am I creating this piece of content for? Is there even an audience for this?
You need to be highly critical of your content to ensure it lives up to your audience’s expectations, which in the world of 2024 and in the age of the creator, is going to be pretty high.
- Finally, you have to start. Starting is the hardest part, and it’s often the stage that people have the most anxiety over. I can remember the time I introduced my LinkedIn network to my blog back in 2014, and all sorts of things were running through my head. What if people laugh, are people going to comment horrible things on the status and embarrass me?
All of these anxieties are illogical, especially in the Salesforce community where the vast majority of people are encouraging and supportive. Let’s say you make a major embarrassing typo and someone points it out in the comments. You can easily edit your status and thank the person in the comments. Or, delete the status, post it again, and thank the person over DM.
You also might think that you have no idea about how to create content. Well, most people don’t! Including myself. I would guess the vast majority of influencers in the world across Fitness, Food, and Travel, had no idea how to create content when they created their first video. This is exactly how you get better, you start, you evaluate your work, and you improve one video at a time.
I’m hoping you can see a bit of a difference between one of our first YouTube videos in 2020 vs the video below we put out a few weeks ago…
The way the world consumes media is changing more rapidly than at any point previously. Even in the last 10 years, we have gone from blogs to YouTube, to Podcasts, to short-form videos as our preferred mediums.
Some believe that creator-led brands are the future of media and that people would much rather connect with an individual that they trust, as opposed to a faceless corporation. This is something that I see every day, and I think the media trends in the Salesforce ecosystem are no different.
I hope this article was helpful, and if you are interested in becoming a Salesforce creator, make sure to check out and sign up to our new Creator program!