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Community Power: Apollo and Canva’s Winning Strategies

Last month we had an awesome chat with two rockstar community leaders: Monica Silvestre, the Global Head of Community at Canva and Daniel Cmejla, VP of Community at Apollo.

Monica’s a pro with over 13 years in tech, shaping community teams at Canva, Yelp, and Pexels. She’s all about making global community programs that not only engage but also drive growth.

Daniel a marketing expert, leading the community team at Apollo. Before, he was at Chili Piper, ramping up their brand through events, content, video, social media, and more. His “Mechanism to amplify our everything” snagged 1-3 million organic impressions monthly – talk about impact!

They recently sat down with RevGenius CEO Jared Robin, and the audience loved it! If you’re curious, you can dive into the full conversation here. 

But if you’re short on time, check out the quick recap.

Building a Community with Impact

Daniel brings Apollo’s unique approach in nurturing the community that not only boosts brand awareness but also defines it. By curating a space for free knowledge exchange, Apollo has created a loyal base of advocates organically promoting the brand.

Monica highlights Canva’s decentralized community strategy, bridging connections across diverse platforms. By focusing on continual value-addition for users, Canva’s built a community based on genuine interaction rather than just transactions, separating support from direct money talks.

Community as a Growth Engine

Monica talked about Canva’s decentralized approach to fostering a community, aiming to turn brand love into a powerful flywheel of awareness, loyalty, and advocacy. This, in turn, generates leads and revenue almost organically, proving the power of genuine community support.

The Value of Advocacy and Relationship Building

Relationships are everything in the community-centric culture of both Apollo and Canva. Monica outlines how Canva’s advocacy programs transform casual users into product champions, supporting end-to-end user growth – from awareness and loyalty to advocacy. 

We’re actively trying to grow our network of advocates. So when we look at our community flywheel, we have awareness, loyalty and advocacy. And each one fuels the next one. 

Similarly, Daniel explains how engaging with advocates across digital spaces solidifies Apollo’s brand narrative, turning endorsements into content that continue to persuade and engage.

Where does the community live? It’s kind of everywhere.

Dan continues: We do have our own Slack group with about 2000 members. That’s for account executives that want to be better about sales and using Apollo. But I’d say a lot of the juiciest community stuff happens on LinkedIn.

Community Success Metrics and Strategies at Canva and Apollo

Dan’s focus on key performance indicators like user-generated content, web traffic, and reduced customer service inquiries shows how to quantify community success. Meanwhile, Monica discusses Canva’s goal of ensuring international coverage through connecting with a global audience in their language and context. The main metric is the growth of Monthly Active Users

We focus so much of our efforts on the MAU metric and not on the revenue metric. But, even with the MAU, when you’ve got 170,000,000 people using the product every month, it’s very challenging to say this effort led to this one little thing that we are trying.

Executive Engagement and Visibility

Stressing the significance of executive involvement, Daniel shares how executive presence within community initiatives amplifies brand authenticity and drives awareness. Apollo’s strategic inclusion of executives in community dialogues not only humanizes the brand but also reinforces trust and credibility.

2024 Community Success at Canva?

“Success to me in 2024 is feeling like we’ve become a truly local product across all of our priority markets, and that we’re properly servicing our users. In 2024, we want to be doubling down on our content creators and specifically ensuring that we’re supporting all of the audiences that we speak to today.”

Cool facts:

  • Canva utilizes an advocacy program that includes roles like “experts” and “canvassadors,” where users actively advocate for the product, helping to create “aha” moments for new users.
  • Despite the complexity of tracking social media impact, a single post by a community member on LinkedIn was able to drive substantial web traffic and pipeline growth for Apollo, showcasing the power of individual contributions to brand success.

Our fav quotes:

“Community is the swath of different use cases that we nurture and make sure that we’re speaking to the folks in a way that we can advance the product to suit their needs. And for us, it’s very much like word of mouth marketing at its finest. 

The power of the community

“The community has largely propelled Canva’s impressive growth over the last ten plus years that the product has been out.” (Monica)

The definition of the “community” 

“Community is a space where people who aren’t explicitly paid to do so freely exchange knowledge and information.Community is something that you don’t control, but you can kind of guide and you can be there and support people” (Dan)

“Community is the swath of different use cases that we nurture and make sure that we’re speaking to the folks in a way that we can advance the product to suit their needs. And for us, it’s very much like word of mouth marketing at its finest.” (Monica) 

On the role of the modern community manager

“The modern community manager is just to ensure that those people are heard, are listened to, feel valued, and then learn as much as possible from them.” (Dan)

Here are some resources to learn more about the community: our Community 101 Guide and the RevCon session with community leaders from Calendly, Common Room, Gartner Peer Community and HubSpot. Also, make sure to check out our upcoming events on all-things-GTM!

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