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Huge News! ‘Employee Advocacy: 101 Cheat Codes’ Book [Podcast]

By Emily Neal16/08/2023August 23rd, 2023No Comments

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

HUGE announcement! Lewis rolls out the carpet for Bradley as he introduces his first-ever book – Employee Advocacy: 101 Cheat Codes.

In this special episode of the podcast, Bradley explains the reasoning and idea behind the book, even introducing the help of Amazon’s Alexa to demonstrate its purpose. No spoilers here though!

Plus, early access for listeners! Enter your details to receive a free copy of the book upon release.

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. I’m the founder and CEO of DSMN8, the employee advocacy platform. And with me, I have Lewis Gray, who is our, we just spoke about it, and I forgot, senior marketing manager.

LG: I… yeah, you got it right. I genuinely thought you were pausing because you’d forgotten my name. I didn’t realize you were anticipating getting the job title wrong.

BK: No, I was thinking about what your job title was, so then I started to forget your name. So if you’re watching this on video, you will see that Lewis is wearing a shirt, which is obviously indicates that this is a special episode of the podcast. I clearly didn’t see as much of a special episode as I’m wearing a Pink Floyd t-shirt. So I apologize for looking scruffy, but Lewis is looking super polished because we have a big announcement that’s really important enough for Lewis to put a shirt on, which I’m excited to tell you about. So are you ready, Lewis?

LG: I’m ready, yeah, I’m in a shirt, and I’m ready. Let’s get into it.

BK: Okay, so I’ve obviously teased it up in the intro, but we do have a big announcement to make. So, and I’m gonna bring it up on screen. So save, Selina having to edit a picture of it on the screen. I’m just gonna pull it up on the screen.

So we are releasing a book which is all about employee advocacy. And what’s different about this book? So what I’m going to do is I’m going to kind of tell the story of how we came around this idea of creating the book.

And then this episode is going to be kind of an interactive experience. And we’re going to try and involve a technology that I can’t say its name yet, because it will interrupt the idea that we’ve got. It’s a terrible explanation, but so let’s start with explaining the idea behind this book.

So about a year ago, I was on holiday. And, I was, normally when I go on holiday to down tools from work, I end up just reading business books, and I’ve always wanted to write a book because, obviously, it’s a huge asset to have – not only for existing clients but also for prospective clients. And really just to kind of help establish ourselves as a you know, authority in the employee advocacy space, and kind of stacking on top of what we already do with the podcast and the content and all that stuff.

But, I was reading a book, and I won’t say which book it was, but I was getting really annoyed with it because I find that when I read business books, they’re often really just one key point that somebody has, they’ve got one USP. They need to fill a book. So what happens is they basically write 200-300 pages, saying the same thing over and over and over again, but just adding more social proof that seems to get weaker and weaker throughout the book.

So you get to the end of the book, and you just kind of feel like that could have been a post on LinkedIn. And this is why we have all these apps now that kind of summarize books for us. So I wanted to read a book, but I really didn’t want it to be another book that just talks about the same thing over and over again.

And actually, when you look on Amazon, there are already books about employee advocacy. So there’s, there’s books about why you would do it, but there wasn’t really that many books about how you would do it. And I am one for, like, I love simplifying things. Maybe it’s just my own intellect. I like to, you know, be able to understand things myself.

So often, I have to simplify them. So I had this idea of creating a book that every single page had massive value. So, every page had to be its own learning.

And originally, I won’t say the name we were gonna originally call the book because it got overruled by marketing, but it’s essentially 101 ways that you can improve your employee advocacy program if you already have one.

So we’re thinking about this as being like the how and not the why, which is what most of the other employee advocacy books are. So I had this idea of creating this book where we would create 101 ways to improve your advocacy program.

And inside DSMN8, not everyone, but there’s a huge amount of people who love gaming. And some of us are of an older generation where we remember buying computer game magazines that had cheat code books on them. And these would be the cheats for the games that were coming out. So the big reveal, I don’t know if I’ve already done this yet or shown it on screen, but, this book is called Employee Advocacy 101 Cheat Codes.

So this should be, if you’re launching an employee advocacy program or you already have one, and you want to improve it, this should be your Bible that you can open at any page and get something from it. So that’s the pitch for the book.

So this episode is going to be a test to see whether that stands up. And we’re going to ask. We’ll start with this because otherwise, it’s going to get confused, and we’re going to ask the what’s the generic word for the thing I’m about to say?

LG: Echo, Amazon technology without saying the name. I feel like when you said a certain technology that I can’t mention, everybody will know what you’re talking about because everybody’s had the same frustration when you don’t want it to go off, and it goes off.

BK: Yeah, but it is quite clever because when you’re, this is going on for a turn, but when you listen to the radio and the presenter on the radio says you can use it to call in, that it doesn’t confuse it because I listen to the radio using the thing. Anyway, so we’re going to ask that for a number between 100, no sorry, one and 101, and then we’re going to speak about that tip that’s in the book, and we’re going to do two or three of those.

But before I go into that, the extra value for people listening to the podcast is that you can actually request a free physical or digital copy of this book, and you can do that by going to so forward slash employee forward slash hyphen no sorry my brain’s all over the place today this.

LG: We can make it easier. We can.

BK: W, I was about to say I was. I used to say for fun. Instead of saying W W W, I used to say W double W for fun, and I nearly said that. So I’m not going to, I’m not going to say that now.I’ll let you do it.

LG: We’ll put the link in the show notes for anybody listening on a streaming platform or a podcast platform, and then we’ll bring a QR code up on the screen to make things a little bit easier, but I think was just to mention what you’re saying about books before I think it’s just nice to have something tangible.

These days everything’s online and what you were saying about going on holiday, when you want to do some learning the last thing you want to do is open your laptop, like you don’t want to go read a blog post. Maybe you’ll listen to a podcast, but to actually have a physical book is just, I love it. I feel like that’s why vinyl is coming back, but to have a physical book to sit and read is, you know, it’s, it’s a throwback, but it’s a welcome one.

BK: It is. And I think when you give something away just as a PDF document, it just feels like it just becomes another piece of gated content that you’re trying to kind of do the bait and switch, you know, with people. And what we wanna do is just put a piece of content out there. Now, the good thing about the book is it is platform agnostic. So this isn’t, and actually, every single tip in the book you can do without having an employee advocacy platform. So the book isn’t a sales pitch for DSMN8.

You could buy this book and use it with somebody else’s platform. You could buy this book, and you could use it without using a platform, if you were running a small scale, you know, 10-15 person advocacy program. So the tips work for everyone.

LG: Yeah, perfect.

BK: So you ready to put it to the test?

LG: Ready to put it to the test, yeah.

BK: Okay, let’s see if my one works. Alexa, give me a number between one and a hundred and one. 

Alexa: Here’s a number between one and one hundred and one. It’s fifteen. 

BK: Okay. So we are going to go to tip number fifteen. Okay. This tip is: a strong personal brand is priceless. Make sure employees know.

So what we’re talking about here is about educating employees on the value of employee advocacy for them as individuals. We’ve spoken about this before on the podcast around creating your ideal advocate profile, but it’s amazing the amount of people that launch advocacy programs, and they forget to actually tell the user why this benefits them. And that’s something that we see time and time again.

LG: Yeah, I think one of the, it’s probably one of the most overlooked parts of it because when let’s say, for example, you’re a marketing team that’s launching a program for marketing purposes, you will research all of the marketing benefits, and that’s how you’ll sell it internally.

And I think then people then make the mistake of communicating the same benefits and the reasons for launching to the workforce, which is the polar opposite of what you need to be doing because obviously, you want to communicate the benefits for them, you wanna get them excited about it.

And if they don’t work in marketing and you’re gonna wanna invite more than just your marketing team to your program, then saying, oh, this is really gonna help the marketing team, it’s like, well, this doesn’t fall under my remit. Why would I do it? Or fall within my remit, sorry.

BK: Yeah, it just comes across as too self-serving, I think, when people talk about that, just the value to the organization.

So some of the ones that we actually have this table in the book that kind of gives you a framework that you can use when you’re talking to employees, so you’ve got an asset in there. So as we’ve written the book, we’ve got loads of templates and things that you can download and use. So it’s more of a tactical. Is that the right phrase? I always get tactics and strategy confused, but would it be tactics? Lewis, correct me if I’m wrong.

LG: Referring to?

BK: The actual putting these things into applications. So rather than us just saying ‘a strong personal brand is priceless, make sure employees know’, what we’re actually doing is giving you the fundamentals that you can use. So in, here, we have a table that talks about the benefits of boosting your career, growing your network, and making your job easier as part of employee advocacy.

So these are all things that when people are asking the question, why should I? It gives you those fundamentals to be able to. Answer that question, which I think a lot of people leading advocacy programs aren’t actually able to do.

LG: Yeah, to answer the question, I’d say tactics and strategy. The strategy is for better adoption rates. You need to communicate the benefits for the employee, the personal branding benefits, especially, but then the tactics are in the book of how to communicate it.

BK: And one of the things that I think with personal branding that people forget about is that personal branding is not just an external function. It’s an internal function as well.

So we speak about this idea of water cooler moments, which is a bit of a cliche, but people know what we mean when we say it. But when I had my first job, not to be like Mr. Old Guy, like remember when back in the past, but there would be certain individuals within an organization that you knew. They were more active in speaking to people. They did a good job of representing themselves rather than just kind of getting their head down and doing their work.

So advocacy gives people that ability to have an internal personal brand but using an external channel like LinkedIn. And that is covered in tip number 15.

LG: Nice.

BK: And anything you’d like to add to that, Lewis, or should we go on to the next tip?

LG: I would say if you haven’t listened to the episode, definitely check out, we’ll put this in the show notes, but the episode that we produced on how to create your ideal advocate profiles because something to consider, and this is in the book, is that personal branding doesn’t mean something to everybody.

So the idea of putting together your ideal advocate profiles is tailoring how you, maybe that’s not the right word, but figuring out how you’re going to communicate the benefits to each employee. So looking at what their current job objectives are, what are their pain points? And then thinking about how participating in your employee advocacy program is gonna help them achieve those goals and overcome those pain points.

It’s really simple. It sounds a bit more complicated than it is. It’s really just about putting some personas together. But that’s the final thing I’d say is definitely check out that episode if you haven’t done already.

BK: Great, should we do one more? Or a couple more, maybe?

LG: Yeah, I think we’ve got time for one or two more.

BK: Alexa, give me a number between 1 and 101.

Alexa: Here’s a number between one and one hundred and one. It’s seventy-three.

LG: Seventy-three.

BK: Okay, so number 73 is: who loves clickbait? Nobody. Avoid. So you got any thoughts on this, Lewis?

LG: Yeah, plenty.

BK: So the key line in it, where the first line in this tip starts with: don’t be tempted to drive results at the expense of your employee advocacy program’s credibility.

LG: Yeah, so I think something people do all too often when they’re running employee advocacy programs, it’s a common mistake, and I can understand why people think this way, but if this usually happens, if it’s a marketer, that’s curating content for other people to share, they and we’ve used this phrase a lot, but they don’t switch off their marketing brain. They write content that they might post on the company page, which I would argue is probably inauthentic for a company page even, when they’re using all of this clickbait jargon that, generally speaking, unless somebody, I can’t think who would post this kind of content, but basically the end result is when this employee shares that piece of content it looks inauthentic. In feed it might look like somebody else has written it, or it might just leave a sour taste in the mouths of their audiences so.

BK: I think also clickbait for me is when people, so when I hear about clickbait, if someone says the word clickbait, I think of things like, you know, pictures of child celebrities with, you won’t believe what they look like now, right? Will blow your mind.

So while we’re saying clickbait, and that’s sometimes what you think about, actually what I think about is more when somebody will post something about, a piece of content and say that there’s kind of critical learnings in a blog article or a video, for instance.

But actually, when you click on the content, it’s actually more of a registration for a webinar. And the webinar is where it contains the learning.

So it’s like tricking someone into taking the next step because you believe that if you can get someone to the next stage of the funnel, they’re more likely to end up at the end of the funnel.

It’s like classic sales when, you know, giving someone a…We were talking in the office the other day about email titles, email subject lines, you know, people who use trickery and email subject lines to get people to open the email. So that’s great. But then, when you open the email, you’re annoyed. So it’s not you might get that vanity metric of my open rate went up, but actually, you’ve annoyed the person, and it’s damaged and tarnished the brand.

LG: Yeah, I mean, what you were saying before, as well as kind of like what you were talking about with a lot of business books that could have been blog posts where they’re just making one point. It’s like you’ve been sold this idea of the book, and then you buy it, spend, I don’t know, eight or nine hours reading it. And it’s like, oh, you’ve kind of just tricked me into buying your book like you could have just written a post.

BK: And I think also as you, as you, as you build an advocacy program, you, there’s a, there’s an element of trust, right? There’s trust with the people that are in the program to not make them appear a certain way, but then there’s trust with their audiences.

So you, you break the trust with the end audience, but actually if the person sharing that piece of content didn’t realize it was a bit of a bait and switch, they’re going to be annoyed. Which means they’re going to stop sharing your content. So when you have something really valuable that actually isn’t clickbaity, the user isn’t there because you breached the trust.

LG: Really important point, actually. Yeah. And as somebody, I mean, I, you know, we, we speak about this a lot, but we use our own tech here at DSMN8. So I’ll look after our employee advocacy program here. But I mean, something I’ll find super valuable is just getting feedback on an ad hoc basis to see how people are feeling about the content that’s going in there. It’s a great way to get an honest bit of feedback. But yeah, the trust, so I’m just thinking that the trust comes into that because. Know that will be the time when they’ll say oh, I saw this go in. I wasn’t too happy about it, and then you can address it if need be but avoid and you won’t have to address it.

BK: Well, the trust is the most important thing. In fact, in the book, what’s called out in big, bold letters is make sure your advocates know, sorry, make sure your advocates know that building trust is the goal, not simply generating views and clicks in any way possible.

But I think to an extent, I’m not saying we’re to blame, but I think as you build analytics. Then naturally, as soon as you have analytics, people want those analytics to improve. So you have analytics which is engagement, clicks, you know, shares. So you have a metric. So naturally, once you have that metric, people do want to increase it. But I think trust is a difficult one to measure with an audience unless you do it. You look at it really long-term and kind of long-term engagement with users.

LG: Yeah, definitely. Tying into what we were saying about personal branding before, that all factors in, you know, people are only going to keep coming back and engaging with your content. And like you said, building trust with your audiences, if, you know, you’re sharing honest content with them, you’re not lying to them for the sake of generating a couple of clicks or, you know, the old comment here and there.

BK: Absolutely. So should we do one more?

LG: Yeah, yeah, let’s get another one in.

BK: We could do this as a regular feature at the end, like storytime at the end of the podcast. Alexa, give me a number between 1 and 101. 

Alexa: Here’s a number between 1 and 101. It’s 36. 

BK: Ah, this is a good one. So number 36: Cap it. Limit your employee’s daily shares.

So we, I would say my argument, it depends on who you listen to and depending on their agenda, right? If you listen to Gary Vee, Gary Vee knows a lot more than I do, by the way, about social media.

So I’m not putting him down, but you know, he’s often saying post ten times a day on LinkedIn, which is absolute insanity from my perspective, especially in an employee advocacy program.

I would say the sweet spot is capping people sharing. If you’re capping it, I would say cap it at two, maybe three, but really the sweet spot for somebody sharing is one piece of content a day at max five a week. But most people will settle at kind of two to three pieces of content a week for an active user.

Anything more than that? I think while again, coming back to the point we were saying. The vanity metrics are before you target yourself on shares and assume that more shares means more clicks. If somebody over-sells something by sharing so much about their company, the audience disengages. So the long tail is that people stop clicking on the content because they can see that this is kind of, you know, maybe something that’s been mandated or gamified.

LG: Yeah, and I think that’ll quickly spiral as well. I was about to say it’s a double whammy of negatives because what you’ve already touched on, Brad, is it appears inauthentic. Sorry, people get tired of your relentless posting.

You probably look like a talking billboard as well if you’re talking about the company that much, if that is the content that you’re sharing. But the double whammy, the second thing was the algorithm will take note of the fact that people just don’t care about your content anymore. You know, when you start posting, you, maybe this isn’t still a thing, but once upon a time, and I feel like it makes sense, LinkedIn would give you a bit of an algorithm boost when you first start posting. So you come back, it makes sense. If you post assurance more people, you get more engagements, but if people stop engaging, then the algorithm is going to be like: people don’t care about this. It’s not just the engagements that go down. It’s your potential audience. The impressions go down with it.

BK: Yeah, and there’s another factor to it as well. So the algorithm will always show you. And in fact, it’s doing more to show you this as well, your coworker’s posts. So now it’s really easy.

If you want to help you, you know, even if you don’t have an employee advocacy program, if you want to support your coworkers, if you go on your company page, it will say at the top posts from employees at this company, and you can scroll through, and you can like posts from your employees, but in your feed, your coworkers are much more likely to appear in your feed than somebody who isn’t a coworker. It will always favor that.

So what happens if somebody, if you don’t cap the amount of shares and you get one bad egg, like one person that just, you know, signs up for a LinkedIn account in the morning, his as an employee advocacy program says, well, I’m gonna go and share everything. By them doing that, you are advertising to the rest of the organization what your employee advocacy program looks and behaves like.

So if I see one person share ten things a day, well, my experience of the employee advocacy program is, “oh, that’s that thing that makes employees share ten pieces of content a day. I’m not that guy. I’m not going to do that”. So I’m not interested in joining the program. I’m probably not going to tell the program leader that’s the reason, I’ll give them another reason because yeah, we’re, most people are nice and don’t want to kind of say bad things about people’s projects.

So capping it, while it sounds counterproductive because you’re limiting the success, what you’re actually doing is investing in something because it’s something that’s going to work for, you know, for a longer period of time. Because, again, people trust the program and know it’s not going to bring their name into disrepute.

LG: Yeah, it’s what you’re saying before, Brad. It’s not just about building trust externally. It’s about doing it internally as well. And that’s exactly that.

BK: I’m actually gonna give another one, another tip, actually, which is related to this one. So as I was just scrolling through it and what we were talking about.

So tip number 32: LinkedIn feed full of your company content? Don’t worry. You’re not overdoing it. So this is a really interesting one.

So a common problem that happens when people launch an employee advocacy program is their view on the world pre-launch. Is let’s say 5% of their employees are sharing content. And they naturally, because they are working the company, they’re connected to lots of people in the company. And if somebody is connected to the program leader, they are far more likely to join the program because they know the person running the project.

So they have this aspiration to run an advocacy program, and they want to have more people sharing content. And then it happens. And then they see so much of their own content in their LinkedIn feed that they panic and they think, Oh no, I was going to say another word there, but I held back. After I did a survey did you see I did a survey about swearing on LinkedIn this week?

LG: Yeah, I was just, I don’t know how the results look now, but I was in the pro-French speaking, but…

BK: You were in pro swearing. I think it was like 60% of people said that they wanna keep LinkedIn clean. So I think that many people are saying that they prefer it. I think swearing adds zero value. So I’m now gonna not swear on LinkedIn. So what they see is they see all this content going into LinkedIn, and they think, oh no, this is what this looks like to everyone. But it isn’t. It’s a lens of which you are the only person in the world that sees that feed like that. So. What I always tell people to do is find somebody they’ve worked with before in the industry and ask them what they think. And usually, what will happen is they will say something like, oh, we have senior employees are doing a really great job on LinkedIn at the moment. They’re really active, which is great. Not everyone sharing all content all the time. So remember to keep that tip in mind and look through somebody else’s lens and not your own one.

LG: Yeah, I heard a story about something like this when I was speaking with one of our clients for a piece of content we were producing. And actually, it was a result of them doing something really great, which was they were supporting and acknowledging the work of their advocates when they saw their posts in feed.

So it wasn’t just that they’d invite them to the program and encourage them to share when they were seeing their feeds. They were actively checking. Sorry, when they were seeing their posts, they were also actively checking. To see what people had posted, not to see that they were doing it, just to give them kudos, just to give them a like, comment, whatever, just to acknowledge it and say, thank you for doing this, I see you. But then, obviously, the algorithm then puts more of those people’s posts in your feed. So they then got it in their head that that’s what everyone’s feed looked like. It’s like, no, it’s because you’re doing a, you know, you’re doing everything right. This is just. This is unique to you.

BK: Yeah, actually, with the LinkedIn updates, there’s actually a trailer for it to disconnect with your employees and engage with their posts because it will help them get further reach. So, well, we always say connect with all of your colleagues, but if all of your colleagues are engaging with your posts, then the algorithm doesn’t recognize that engagement is as valuable as if they weren’t connections. So, you could, I’m not saying to go, delete everyone from your LinkedIn, but in theory, that would make a difference.

LG: Yeah. Nice. I think that’s a nice point to end on, Brad, unless you…

BK: No, I’m just going to now take the book and the ceremony and then put it on my book stand, which I’ve got from behind my desk. So if anyone’s watching the podcast, they will never forget that there is a book that they can get their hands on.

LG: Pride of place next to the lightsaber as well.

BK: I was almost had to choose between the lightsaber and the book, which I just, I couldn’t work out which one I was more proud of. Also, the book will be available on audiobook, which will just explain why my voice is a little bit like this because I have now read the entire audiobook cover to cover. And it’s being edited at the moment. So, hopefully, next time we do a podcast, my voice will be back to a hundred percent. But there will be an audiobook out there in the world. So if people are missing my dulcet tones, they’ll be able to listen at any point.

LG: Brilliant. Brad, I just realized as well we have got Brad in a shirt on the podcast on the back of the book. There’s a lovely photo of you in a shirt there as well. So I wanted to get that in there.

BK: It happens sometimes.

LG: Yeah. Well, I mean, this is so rare for me. I feel like you wear a shirt all the time and now I’ve put a shirt on for this occasion. But yeah, cool, Brad. I mean, this is, like I said, this is your episode, man. I’ll let you wrap this one up.

BK: Yeah, so obviously, thanks for tuning in. Reviews, we really appreciate them if you can drop them in on Spotify and Apple podcasts, but most importantly is, go and register for a free copy of the book at the link that Lewis gave earlier and the QR code, and we’ll get that sent out to you as soon as the book is published, which will be early September.

LG: Amazing. Perfect. Yeah. And if you wanted to connect with myself or Brad, the best way to do that, as always, is on LinkedIn. But yeah, thank you very much for listening. We’ll catch you in two weeks’ time.

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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.