Lithys 2015: Webroot - Most Creative Community Promotion or Launch

Lithys 2015: Webroot - Most Creative Community Promotion or Launch

Company: Webroot Webroot logo.png

Entry submitted by: Nicholas Tolstoshev (tolstoshev) Community Manager 

Community: Webroot Community (

Lithy category: Most Creative Community Promotion or Launch


Webroot is the market leader in cloud-based, real-time internet threat detection for consumers, businesses and enterprises. We have revolutionized internet security to protect all the ways you connect online. Webroot delivers real-time advanced internet threat protection to customers through its BrightCloud® security intelligence platform, and its SecureAnywhere™ suite of security products for endpoints, mobile devices and corporate networks.


Webroot Brings the Online VIP Experience Offline!


This year, we’re proud to submit a Lithy nomination for “Most Creative Community Promotion or Launch” category based on an event we held for one of our super users. Here’s the story.


When the Webroot community was first started back in 2012, we set up a program to reward our power users and called it the Webroot VIP Program.  The community team built the program to recognize and reward the most active, influential members via a ranking system based on a combination of posts, kudos, accepted solutions, and other factors. The rewards were a mix of moderator abilities and gifts, and were based on members’ feedback so we were sure that they were the most valuable rewards we could offer.


One of the top rewards (at the Silver VIP level) was an all-expenses-paid trip to the nearest Webroot office, and in 2014 the first community member reached that level.  Known on the community as TripleHelix, Daniel Godin had been an active member of the community from the beginning.  He is a veteran of online communities and participates not only the Webroot community, but several other well-known communities.  His participation in various Microsoft communities earned him the coveted Microsoft MVP title several years running.


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The Plan


When we initially determined the awards of each rank in the VIP program, we were unsure what the Silver VIP “visit the to the headquarters” would entail.  As Daniel approached this rank,  Anna Kim, Sr. Advocate Programs Manager, and I started to plan out what the visit would look like.  First we selected the date and length of the visit.  Daniel would fly in from Toronto and stay with us for two days.  Anna came up with an agenda of meetings with key teams that Daniel was excited to meet, and organized a welcome party for the first day.  I, as the person who interacted with Daniel the most, would pick him up from the airport and escort him around the office and go with him to meetings.  We set up meetings with folks form all different departments, from developers, to support, to marketing and the executive staff – even the CEO. We wanted to make sure his visit truly made him feel like a VIP.


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The Visit – Day 1


When the day came, I drove to the airport to meet Daniel.  Things kicked off with him meeting the entire social media and community team, then jumped right into meetings with all the different Webroot staff.  He met with the senior product developers, a group meeting with the support, QA and threat research teams, and then followed up with a meeting with one of the top product managers. 


Mid-day, we gathered the entire Colorado office together for a “VIP meet and greet” with a cake reception. Webroot employees were able to thank him in person and Daniel could take photos with them.


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At the end of the first day we took Daniel into Boulder for dinner and some sightseeing.  After a bit of walking around, he was quite ready to call it an evening.  Between jetlag, travel, and a very full day, we’d worn him out, but he was very happy and excited.


The Visit – Day 2


The next morning Daniel had a breakfast meeting with our Executive VP of Products &  Strategy, Mike Malloy, after which Mike took him to a meeting of all of the executive staff and the CEO.  The CEO took him to the front of the room and introduced him and thanked him for all the help he had provided to Webroot through his participation in the community.  Then there was an opportunity for the executives to ask him questions about what he through of the product and any ideas for improvements he wanted to share. Daniel said that is really meant the world to him to be treated as he was by our executive staff – something that not many other companies would do.


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He then hopped onto a Google hangout that Nic regularly leads for our VIPs. He mentioned that he had a surprise guest joining him and it was a fun delight for the rest of the VIPs to see Daniel standing with Nic (and a great way to encourage others to reach the Silver VIP level!)


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His visit wrapped up with Daniel shadowing members of our community team and the best part – hitting the button to push our most recent product release live!


Positives outcomes from the visit

  • Daniel’s first experience with Webroot was with a company called Prevx, that Webroot acquired and rebuilt their technology around.  The heart of Prevx was a whiz kid from the UK named Joe, who invented the new cloud-based technology.  Not only was he a programming whiz, but he also was a fan of online communities.  He participated in the Wilders Security Forum, which was a platform-agnostic place for security professionals and enthusiasts to discuss security and anti-virus.  Joe and Daniel connected there and became fast friends.  Joe instinctively grasped the importance of customer feedback through directly talking to customers, rather than getting that feedback through layers of employees.  He would give Daniel beta builds to test and ask him for his opinions on new features and design decisions.  Joe ended up leaving Webroot shortly before Daniel came to visit, to go work on another venture.  Daniel’s visit was well timed in that he got to make new connections with developers, product managers, and other folks here at Webroot, to replace the relationship he had with Joe.  As an outcome of this, we revamped our beta program and recruited more community members to work directly with PMs, devs, and QA in the private beta forum.  What started as an informal relationship grew to a formal beta program, thanks in part to Daniel’s visit.  We now have a Beta group with almost 200 members and thousands of posts discussing testing new features.  We got developers, QA folks and product managers posting in there and talking directly to customers, just the way Joe and Daniel used to.
  • When Daniel visited Webroot, I had been with the company for less than a year.  I was still relatively new, and didn’t yet know as many people throughout the company as I needed to as a community manager.  Anna Kim is a 15 year veteran of Webroot, and the sister of the founder of the company.  She was able to use her knowledge and connections to select the right people to talk with.  Getting to escort Daniel to those meetings and helping facilitate them helped build connections for me as well as for him.  I got to know people at Webroot that I hadn’t met yet, and that helped propel the community to be more useful to employees at Webroot.
  • We took many pictures from the visit and posted on the community to share Daniel’s visit with everyone, as you can see here: This allowed the rest of the community power users to share in the experience, and also be motivated towards the day when they would reach the VIP level and get their turn to visit.  That thread got over 1,000 pageviews, both for community members, users of the Webroot products, and Webroot employees.
  • Meeting Daniel in person and getting to spend so much time with him cemented the relationship that we’d begun online.  That helped tide us over the ups and downs of any relationship (such as the time when I accidentally forgot to invite him to the new private Beta group and made him feel slighted).


Negative feedback from the visit:

  • The one negative feedback that we heard from some Webroot employees was whether this visit was a suitable use of company resources.  Was it worth it to fly Daniel here, put him up in a hotel, and spend dozens of employee hours towards this project?  This showed us that the importance of customer feedback wasn’t completely well understood by everyone here at Webroot.  It made us realize that we still had work to do to evangelize the importance of community to the company at large.  That led us to kick off a project in 2015 to improve employee engagement in the community (which will hopefully be a story for a future Lithy award submission).


We asked Daniel to let us know what the experience was from his perspective, to make sure that the trip was valuable from his perspective.  And also to see if there was any feedback for improvements for next time.  Here’s what he had to say:


My visit to Webroot HQ was an awesome and once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. The first day Nic the Community Manager picked me up from the Denver airport and we drove up north to Broomfield where the Webroot Head Office is and we chatted all the way. Once we got there the Community & Social team had lunch ready for us and they all made me feel at home and very welcomed. Anna had an agenda made up for me for the afternoon and the next day, which allowed me to meet many groups of staff such as the Threat Research/Support teams and the Director of Threat Research let me push the button to release the latest Beta to Beta testers which was easy and fun. In the early afternoon they had a “Welcome to Webroot” cake and social hour with all the staff so I got to meet many people which I now call friends (and the Cake didn’t last too long!). Then I spent the rest of the afternoon with the Community & Social Teams to see what they do from their point of view and on the other side of the screen it’s a small world!


For the evening the Community & Social team took me out for dinner at a very nice place in Boulder, Colorado where Webroot had its beginning in 1997. Then we walked around Boulder for a couple of hours - what a nice city and the view of the mountains was so beautiful. The next morning I had breakfast with Mike Malloy, Executive VP of Products & Strategy and we had a very nice chat. Then he came and got me and had me come into an Executive Staff meeting and introduced me as an Ambassador of Webroot. Some of the senior staff had questions for me so I gave them my answers & advice, and in the end they all stood up and clapped to thank me and in turn I thanked them. As Mike was walking me out, the CEO Dick Williams shook my hand and said “thank you, and thank you for being an Ambassador of Webroot” - that really touched my heart, as they all were so nice. The rest of the day I spent my time with the Community/Social Groups and got to meet quite a few more Webroot staff such as the Development Group, and the Technical Product Manager. We had a nice chat and it was nice to meet them in person. The time went so fast, and then it was time for Nic to take me back to the airport to fly home. I really enjoyed myself with all the nice people I got to meet at Webroot HQ and I would like to thank all of them for making it a fantastic journey. Like I said, I will never forget it. Here are some very nice moments of my visit:



Daniel A Godin



Goal of this promotion: Build a loyalty program to reward members of our community


Why it was unique: We invited one of our VIP members to come visit our office in an all-expenses paid visit.


Results of the promotion: Lots of good connections with our top VIP within the company as well as the opportunity to showcase the rewards that our VIPs receive for being advocates and participating in the community.


Our video: 




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Lithium Alumni (Retired)
Status changed to: 2015 Lithy Submission