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PodcastEmployee Advocacy

The 4 Ideal Advocate Profiles [Podcast]

By Emily Neal14/06/2023August 23rd, 2023No Comments

[Episode Thirty-Four of ‘The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast] 🎧

In this unique episode of the podcast, Bradley hosts a workshop-style episode with Lewis and explains the four types of ideal advocates for an employee advocacy program. Lewis expands on this and offers valuable insight from his experiences dealing with these four personas. They touch on the challenges and motivations of each persona, and why these personas are perfect for an employee advocacy program.

Organizations all over the world in every sector are driving strategic competitive advantage by scaling the impact of their employees’ voices… and now YOU can too! As we delve beyond the why and get straight to the how so that you can put employee-driven growth at the heart of your organization.

Welcome to the new and improved version of The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast. In this new format, CEO Bradley Keenan is joined by DSMN8’s very own Lewis Gray (Senior Marketing Manager) as a co-host.


BK: Welcome to The Employee Advocacy and Influence Podcast. My name is Bradley Keenan, and with me, I have Lewis Gray, who I’m going to get it wrong again to say your own job title in case I promote you again.

LG: I want to hear your guess just to see where you’re at with remembering it.

BK: Senior Marketing Manager.

LG: Mate, nailed it first try.

BK: Yes, Done it.

LG: Smashed it.

BK: I know the job titles of people.

LG: I was gagging for another promotion, though. I thought another one was coming.

BK: Yeah, our chief marketing officer, Lewis.

LG: Hahaha!

BK: So, in today’s episode is going to be a little bit different because we’re going to, we’re kind of explore something that we’re working on as part of our sales presentations, our pitch decks to clients.

Because one of the things that we get asked a lot is there’s this concept, and I think we’ve spoken about it on loads of other episodes where we’ve spoken about. Sorry, did you want to do the let’s get into it thing? Because that starts at the start, doesn’t it?

LG: Well, this is a bit tricky because I don’t actually know what we’re…

BK: Just say, let’s get into it 

LG: I have a loose idea of what we’re about to talk about. Let’s get into it.

What does "Ideal Advocate Profile" Mean?

BK: Okay, so I’ll continue. So as part of our sales presentation, we talk to people about this idea of, like, don’t think about everyone in your company being necessarily an employee advocate for many reasons, right? The obvious one is they might not have any commercial interest in sharing content.

Now, if it’s for recruitment, different story, because you might want to be attracting engineers as an example, so you might want an engineer sharing your content. But outside of that, people ask like, what is a typical person that joins an employee advocacy program?

So I have a, I’m guilty of talking about sales a lot, primarily because that’s kind of what I know more than marketing if I’m being honest.

So we talk about our buying personas. So when we’re selling to somebody, we think about inside that organisation, who’s the person that we speak to, and we try, and there’s some people who do buy-in personas where they all call, give them names, and there’s you know really advanced ways of doing it. But “procurement Patrick” or whatever. And that would be very specific.

With employee advocacy, I’ve kind of built, let’s see how many there are, I think there’s four. There’s four. So there’s four types of people inside an organisation that make a good employee advocate, and they all have different challenges, motivations, and also content preferences.

So the things that they actually want to share. So we’re going to use this episode to go through them, and kind of Lewis is going to live sanity check the work that we’ve done. Does that sound like a good idea, Lewis?

LG: Sounds amazing, yeah, happy to oblige. Sanity check as well is brilliant.

BK: Why is that?

LG: I just, I’ve never heard that phrase before.

BK: You’ve never had to do a sanity check? 

LG: Never. Live on the pod first time.

BK: Where have you been? No one’s ever said the word sanity check with you?

LG: Essex thing. It’s gotta be an Essex thing.

BK: It’s definitely not an Essex thing. It’s worldwide. It’s global.

1: The Seller

BK: Okay, so let’s start with persona number one, and this is the obvious one. So this is what we call the seller.

So the seller, to me, isn’t just a salesperson. It’s anyone within the organisation that is a quota-bearing individual. So that means that you might be, your goal might be to sell the product.

It might be to work in customer success because you’re selling a renewal or a continuation of a service, or expansion.

But it could also be that you work in talent acquisition, and your quota is to fulfil a quota of recruitment that we’re doing. We’re trying to hire a hundred engineers and ultimately, you’re going to have some kind of target, and probably some kind of remuneration that is fixed against that target.

So, let’s start with the challenges for that individual.

So the core challenges for somebody who is a quota-bearing individual is that they are notoriously time-poor.

Now everyone says they’re time-poor, you know. There’s not many people in the workplace that just say, “oh, to be honest, I get my work done by Monday at 12 o’clock. And I spend the rest of the week chatting”.

So everyone will say they’re time-poor, but when you’re working against the clock to hit a target by a certain date, you are going to be time-poor.

So they’re under pressure to hit numbers, and they’re also have some form of competitor breathing down the neck, right?

Because you’ve either you’re a salesperson that sells to a common buyer, and there’s a competitor that’s trying to also sell to them. Or if you work in talent acquisition, you’ve got other companies trying to attract that same talent. Does that make sense?

LG: Makes sense.

BK: So the motivations for that person firstly is hitting and exceeding their quota. They want to be seen as an industry expert because the more that they’re seen as an expert, the more trust that they build. The more trust that they build, the more likely it is that they’re going to sell, you know, hire whatever the quota is, and ultimately what they’re looking to do is convert more potential clients or hires into actual clients or hires.

So for those people, the content that resonates with them has to help them fulfill their goal. So things like case studies and social proof and product updates, and industry news are the type of things that person wants to share.

So that person may not, okay, if you’re in talent acquisition, you would want to share company culture type things. But you could argue that a salesperson sharing company culture stuff might help them close a deal, because people like to do business with companies that they like.

But in reality, most people want to do a deal with somebody that’s going, you know, to give them some kind of value. Right. Does the product work? Does it give ROI?

So that’s persona number one, the seller.

So before we go into number two, I want to see if you’ve got any questions about that one.

LG: I don’t know if I have questions per se. I’m thinking back to a while back, we produced a piece of content on what we called the pyramid of employee influence, which basically identifies five types of employees within every organization, but that was more at a characteristic level.

So I’m thinking about how each of these kind of slots in, so that I think that the pyramid piece that we did, which we’ll link to in the show notes, was more of a broader sense of the types of employees within the organisation and these, what you’re putting together seem to be actual personas, so identifying their interests, their audience and that kind of thing.

BK: Yeah, absolutely. So they actually overlay.

So the, in the pitch deck, before these personas is actually the slide about the pyramid of influence.

So essentially, what we’re saying in that is at the bottom of the pyramid, you’ve got people that hate their job, right? They’re just. That they’re going to, they’re going to move on. They just want to do the minimal amount of work.

And then you’ve got that middle bracket, which is the kind of willing but busy, et cetera, et cetera. And this is kind of within those brackets. Who are those people, and why would they do it?

LG: Yeah, I got it.

BK: So, shall I go on to the next one?

LG: Yeah, I’m enjoying this format, by the way. This is like the version one of this podcast where you used to host it yourself. This is, this is kind of like me getting a live version of one of those. It’s like, I’m going to open this up now to a Q and A. Any questions, Lewis? This is great.

BK: Yeah, I mean, to be honest, you get more time on my calendar than my direct reports now.

LG: Hahaha!

BK: You’ve literally, you’ve levelled up massively.

2: The Leader

BK: So persona number two is called the leader.

So the leader is pretty self-explanatory, somebody who is leading the organization. So that might be the CEO. It could be a divisional head, a sales leader, whoever.

It’s someone within the organization that has an external responsibility to show what’s going on in the company but also an internal responsibility to lead individuals.

So we have this phrase which we didn’t come up with, I can’t remember who did, so I’m not gonna credit them because I can’t remember who it was.

But this term around mixternal communications, where you’ve got this idea that internal communications and external communications are two different things, and they’re not, right? They are, but they’re not.

So we don’t get all of our employees to say, you can’t go on LinkedIn anymore, and all of your communications goes through Slack.

It’s just like, don’t ever listen to anything in the external world.

And the internal people are more likely to be on LinkedIn than they are going to be on their own internal communications platform.

So having a leader in the organisation who’s proactively sharing content externally, and we’ve spoken about this before, has an internal value.

And we’re working on… a few different ways that are actually going to be able to quantify that, which is going to be really interesting, but that’s a side thing.

So the challenges for a leader within an organization is, firstly, they want to engage the workforce. So they want an engaged group of people working for them, because it’s very difficult to lead unmotivated or uninspired people.

So as a leader, most of your effort actually goes into the people that don’t want to be led, and that’s like a, you know, difficult thing to deal with. They’re also just like the first persona, really time-poor.

And this is a generalization, and I’m sure someone will tell me off for saying this, but they’re typically older in age just because they’re further in their career path. And the further they are in their career path, the less likely it is that they’re a social media native.

Meaning that they joined Facebook in their 20s and 30s. They probably aren’t on TikTok. Of course, there’s going to be exceptions to this. And I know that that’s not going to be the rule for everyone, but generally speaking, it probably is.

LG: No, shout out to the people that are, yeah, that are the exception to the rule.

BK: Exactly. So the motivations for those individuals is they want to establish themselves as thought leaders because they want to lead an organisation, be seen to be experts, but also they want to broadcast the communication of the content internally and externally.

So the content preferences for somebody who’s in a leadership position, again, is going to be different to somebody who’s in a kind of hard quota-bearing role.

So they’re looking at things like company success stories, information about mergers, acquisitions that are happening, senior appointments within the organization, case studies, even, and we see this, we see this in our data, financial results.

If you’re a public listed company, when you do your kind of, you know, your quarterly updates, when people share those via employee advocacy, via the employee advocacy program, they get huge engagement, and it’s really dry.

You know, like, you know, looking at financial results for a company for most people isn’t that interesting.

But actually, employees love sharing it. You know, it’s usually good news, right? If it’s in your employee advocacy program. I think if profits are down, people tend not to want to broadcast it, and general industry news as well.

So I’ll pause there to catch a breath. What did you think of that one?

LG: Yeah, I can think of a few instances where that’s been the case. There’s people that I’ve spoken with, organized, well, a number of our clients that I’ve spoken with, who I think fit this bill.

I think the leaders can be… a little bit more difficult to get on board because it’s tricky. Like you said, they’re a time-poor bunch.

It can be difficult to kind of communicate the value and the importance to them. I’m sure a lot of the time, they do. They understand it.

But again, if you’re within a publicly listed company, for example, and you’re within the C-suite, what you say on social media is of, you know, a whole lot of weight. So I think because of that, maybe a lot of them steer clear.

So, generally speaking, leaders can be more difficult to get on board. But I think everything you’ve said based on conversations I’ve had with clients seems to really hit the nail on the head.

BK: Yeah. And I think it’s, you know, framing it around why they should do it. And again, this is probably an episode for another time. But because we’re active on social, I notice a huge difference.

If I’m interviewing people, they seem more relaxed when they come to the interview, because they feel like they already know me. They’ve already listened to podcasts. It gives them an easier way to start conversations with me.

It’s like, you know, you’re just naturally more open and approachable. But, you know, it’s like you said, people sometimes do take a while to change.

And, you know, I know that sometimes I look back and go, I wish it was like the old days, you know, like there was some things that were easier, even though tech’s got better, you know like I don’t like scheduling time for most people, that’s weird, but I, I remember the days where people just phone you randomly. And I could phone a customer randomly.

I didn’t have to slot a 30-minute Zoom call for every single time I wanted to have a five-minute conversation. But you know, that’s my own personal rant.

But so for a lot of leaders, they’re actually thinking, well, I used to lead perfectly fine ten years ago, and I didn’t post anything on LinkedIn. So why do I now need to do it? So I think, yeah, when you’re onboarding people, framing it is definitely valuable.

LG: Yeah, definitely. I think it can be easy to get kind of stuck in your ways like that, but at the same time, I can understand that the longing for the past.

It does seem a little bit more, things maybe were a little bit more simple, even though, like you said, it’s supposed to have made things easier, the introduction of tech, but yeah, sorry. We’ve had two, right? So we’re onto the third persona.

BK: Yep, two.

3: The Champion

LG: What was the third one?

BK: So the third one, this is where I think they get less obvious. So this is what we call the champion.

So this is somebody who is just organically passionate about the company mission. So they love where they work. They love what the company does. They believe in the company, and they want to be a proactive ambassador for the organization.

So this persona is interesting because this is the one that most people when they launch an employee advocacy program, think is the only one.

They think that the only person, the only reason why someone would be an employee advocacy program is because they want to cheer about the company they work for.

And actually, like I said, it’s only one of my four core personas.

So the challenge for this person is internal politics and stepping on toes.

So if they start being a voice for the organization because they care so much about the organization and they want to be that proactive ambassador, actually, if they go and do it on LinkedIn, they might worry that they’re gonna upset somebody in marketing because it looks like they’re trying to kind of like steal their thunder if that makes sense.

And they also care deeply about sharing the right thing. So, they might say, actually, I want to share this bit of update from the company, but they don’t know whether they’re allowed to share it or if they do share it, what should they say?

They want to be a proactive ambassador, but actually, they feel that they can’t because the pain of getting it wrong would be so great that they’d actually be silent instead.

LG: When you say they worry about upsetting marketing, understand that point. Makes total sense. Can’t relate, but I understand it.

Do you think there’s anything to be said about people so this champion persona? Do you think they almost reign in sometimes because I’ve heard this a few times.

People don’t wanna be seen as being too active on social or trying to elevate their personal brand because it’s like, oh, I don’t want my employer to think that I’m looking for a job.

BK: Yeah, absolutely. And I didn’t realize that until we started doing kind of workshops with people and asking people, you know, people who wouldn’t participate.

And I know we’re going to do another episode about people who might participate.

But when we actually spoke to people, that was one of their main concerns. Now I’m old enough to remember when putting a profile image on your LinkedIn made it look like you were looking for a job. Right.

Because I remember when I first got a LinkedIn account. It was like 2002. So it’s like nearly 20 years I’ve had a LinkedIn account. And it was just a CV or resume is the correct word to use now. So it was a resume.

And if you put your photo on LinkedIn, it was like, what are you doing? Like, who do you think you are? How important do you think you are? Do you need a picture of yourself on your LinkedIn? So that would have sent the same signal.

LG: I can understand that, though. You know, if my CV was public and all of a sudden I’m updating it and, you know, I don’t know if I was just publicly updating my CV. It’s like, hold on, like, what’s going on here? Like LinkedIn pretty much was that, wasn’t it? It’s like outing you as…

BK: Yeah. You can see it, and it’s funny is when we recruit, if I, you know I’m interviewing, I’ll always have someone’s LinkedIn profile open because you know it’s much better than a resume.

And the recommendations will always be in the last sort of eight weeks. So it’s like, oh, in the last eight weeks, so many people decided to give you a recommendation. It’s like. It’s a concentrated period of time where I knew I was gonna go looking for a job, so I asked loads of people to give me recommendations.

So I think that’s more likely, but. But yeah, that’s definitely what people worry about.

And specifically for the champion, they would worry about that even more. The motivations for the champion is really simple. It’s just one thing, which is they just enjoy being an ambassador and a connector.

You know, being that person to be seen as being a cheerleader is something that they get a dopamine hit from doing.

And the content preferences for those people is more going to be related to company culture. Awards, positive PR, and job opportunities it’s all things framed around why this company is a great place to work and a great place to be.

LG: You think there’s anything to be said with this champion persona about them?

We’ve spoken about them not wanting to look like they’re looking for a job, but is there anything to be said about them maybe looking for that promotion? So I’m actively participating.

I’m showing publicly that I’m engaged with the company.

Maybe they’re not after a promotion right now, but I think it won’t hurt your chances to be actively engaged and to be seen to be supporting the company.

I think that’s, that’s something that can be incredibly positive for your internal reputation within the company.

BK: Yeah, absolutely. And it almost by serendipity, you’ve led me on to the next persona…

LG: Nobody’s going to believe I didn’t know what you were going to talk about.

BK: Yeah. The fact you just said that made it even less likely they’ll they’ll believe it.

4: The Ambitious

BK: And so the fourth is the ambitious. So on our slides, we have different pictures of people that kind of not look like this persona, but they’re just they’re just pictures of people to make the slide look more interesting.

But on the ambitious one, the guy’s wearing like a shirt and a tie. He’s kind of got a bit of a slick haircut. He looks like a bit of a try-hard if I’m being honest, and I don’t know whether to change him, but, basically, the ambitious is really to make it super simple.

It’s somebody who’s looking to advance their career. And they’re smart enough to know that they understand the importance of personal branding.

Whether they believe in the company mission or the content completely irrelevant, they understand that you know, and again, I’ll go back in my day, but back in my day, the person who got known inside an organization was the person that was either the loudest, funniest, you know, classic water cooler chats to everyone.

And that was how you built your personal brand within an organization. People knew you, right?

Dispersed workplace, hybrid work, all that kind of stuff, completely remote… 

How do you tell the organization who you are without just going on your internal comms platform and telling everyone what you did at the weekend, which I think is probably not the right idea?

So the ambitious knows that if they start sharing content about the company, other people in the company will see it because they follow the company, and they’re going to see this person being an ambassador.

It’s gonna put them in a good position to show that they’re a team player, all those kinds of things. And… it’s going to help in their career.

So the challenges for that individual are that they are dependent on digital reputation. So they can’t just be the funny person at the water cooler anymore.

But they’re unsure of what to say when they share content because, you know, maybe they’re not necessarily a product expert at this point, and maybe they’ve just joined the company.

And their motivations are to create a positive reputation. And help advance their career.

So their content preferences is actually, they don’t have any because the ambition for them is to share and be seen as a sharer, not to be necessarily a thought leader in their specific domain. So it is very much a career move for them.

LG: Would you argue then that the ambitious is basically the, it’s like the champion with a motive?

BK: Yeah, I don’t, I don’t. For me, I see the champion is, as a more like sincere version of the ambitious, and it might. I mean, in any persona exercise you do, you’re always going to be,  stereotyping to a certain extent or definitely are and putting people, putting people into, you know, certain groups.

I think a champion for me is someone who’s been with the company a long time. It’s genuinely, they just want to help. The ambitious is, “Hey, I might be here for a few years, but do you know what? If this. If this is easy for me and it gives me a good reputation, why wouldn’t I do it?”

And actually, the ambitious doesn’t necessarily, because again, I’m using this like guy in the shirt and the slick back hair. It doesn’t need to necessarily be like that, but like a new recruit, as an example, someone who’s just joined the organisation, how else can they get seen by the CEO in a really positive way?

So like, one of the things we’re looking at at the moment is around this. I don’t wanna say too much, actually, but.

This idea of the people who have just joined the organization and how powerful they are versus an ambassador that’s been with the company for 20 years. So if you look at, Selina as an example, so Selina edits the podcast, so she’s not going to edit herself out of this.

So she posted when she first joined the organization, she did like a, you know, like a one month on, this is how things are going. It’s fantastic for us because she studied marketing with other people. That we want to attract as talent. And she’s talking about why working at DSMN8 is great.

For us, that’s fantastic. She is, I believe, is a champion and not this ambitious type, but there still is that thing of like, do you know what, if I’m talking about the company, I’m seeing it, I’m commenting on it and saying like, that’s great, Selina, thanks very much.

If she didn’t do that, that’s one less engagement she has with the founders and the senior execs. So to me, it just makes complete sense.

LG: Yeah, definitely. And that did happen too. I know Selina wouldn’t mind me saying this, but a number of people reached out to her after she started because we posted another job advert. We were hiring within the marketing team, a number of people reached out to her. So it was interesting to see.

BK: Yeah,

LG: I was going to say something that I’ve forgotten. 

BK: Oh, brilliant, so you interrupted me and can’t remember.

LG: It’ll come to me after the episode.

BK: And then you can just put it in as, you know, like some on-screen text, maybe do it in like a Star Wars sort of thing. That would be awesome.

Yeah, so I think, so there are the four personas that I’ve kind of earmarked. Any that you would add, any that you agree with, disagree with.

LG: No, none that I agree with. I’m sorry, none that I disagree with. I think potentially I’ll add to this, but obviously, it’s my first time hearing it.

So I think coming away from this, I’m excited to start working on. And  I think there’s some, some great content in this. I think we can put this together in, you know, a number of different formats. It’ll be super easy for people to digest.

Hopefully, at some point, we can come back to this episode and drop something in the resources and the show notes below. For me, it’s the similarity between the champion and the ambitious type. That’s kind of like my main takeaway at the moment, but I think that’s just a… Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain what I’m thinking at this point. So, yeah, I

BK: I guess the

LG: I think it’s something I need to come away with.

BK: champion and the ambitious is very similar, but the motives are slightly different. Like to us just talking about it, it feels like we position it as one is sincere and one is self-serving, maybe in a way, but it’s probably.

LG: Yeah, that’s-

BK: not quite as straightforward as that.

LG: Yeah, and there’s nothing wrong with it either. Like when you say self-serving and having a motive, it almost sounds slightly sinister. It’s not at all.

Obviously, everybody wants to climb that career ladder. But yeah, I think it’s more the personality difference. One is just totally sincere, and the other’s just got that motive. But having that motive just gives you another reason too.

When you’re trying to onboard them to your platform, it’s just another something you can leverage in there so that you can make sure you capture those ambitious types.

BK: And I think the thing is it’s easy to kind of, I guess, make that sound bad. I mean, the reality is how many people, I don’t know, let’s think about this.

If you take 100 people on LinkedIn, if they all of a sudden made $100 million, how many of those 100 would post on LinkedIn after that? Right.

If you take that number and then say if I made a hundred million dollars, how many people would post on Instagram after that? Numbers are really different. Right.

I mean, what would you assume out of a hundred? How many of them would still be posting on LinkedIn?

LG: I mean, I wouldn’t have the app tomorrow. So I don’t…

BK: You just delete immediately. So

LG: it depends what your intentions are, right? If you come into that money and it’s like, okay, well now I’m gonna go and launch my own company and you know invest my own cash into it, then it’s in your interest to stay there. But go

BK: For ahead, sure. And if you’re doing something philanthropic, absolutely you would do it.

But for the, I would guess out of a hundred people on LinkedIn, 98 of them would not post on that anymore. So there’s nothing wrong with that.

It’s a commercial platform that’s there to help people advance their careers, grow their businesses. That is what it is for.

And I think that’s the thing that I think people sometimes scared to talk about because it makes it feel like it’s somehow, that you can’t do that in an authentic way, which you can. But that is why LinkedIn exists. That’s why it was built.

LG: Yeah, yeah, I definitely completely agree. Whether or not you know it, I think there is always an underlying motive there, isn’t there?

BK: Well, let’s see, once you get your 100 million, we’ll see if you’re on LinkedIn the next week. Tune in to find out.

LG: When those lotto numbers come in. We’ll see. Yeah, Brad, I don’t know if there’s anything else you wanted to run through, but I’d be happy to wrap up from my side. But obviously, it’s your episode, so I’ll let you.

BK: Yeah, I’d say that. Obviously, this was a little bit of an experiment to run. Any thoughts from people listening to podcasts they want to connect to with Lewis or I on LinkedIn sharing the insights that they, they have?

I’m definitely starting to see with clients that they’re actually doing this work before we’re speaking to them. So a lot of people are already coming with their own personas.

So any information that supports this and also any information that challenges it, would be great to hear from the community. So. Yeah, thanks for tuning in.

LG: Cheers, bye-bye.

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Emily Neal

SEO and Content Specialist at DSMN8. Emily has 10 years experience blogging, and is a pro at Pinterest Marketing, reaching 1 million monthly views. She’s all about empowering employees to grow their personal brands and become influencers.