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Advocates and the Many Hats They Wear


Back at JiveWorld 12, I facilitated a mini-session about all the things we often ask of our advocates in a community. The intent of the conversation was to explore the ways these different "roles within a role" may affect our advocate recruitment and motivation approaches, since it is all too easy to think of advocates as a one-size-fits-all collective in our community planning efforts.

A mere 8 months later, I've managed to capture the outcomes of that session—and added some thoughts on a few other roles too, to hopefully make italmostworth the wait. In the spirit of the collaborative conversation that inspired this post in the first place, please chime in with your comments below!I'd love to hear how you've seen these roles (and others) play out in your communities and what you've done to support and empower them.

See you back in Vegas in October forJiveWorld 13!


Who are they?

  • Helpful—frequently assist others
  • Patient
  • Good communicators
  • Involved in the broader initiative—know the details
  • Trusted
  • Technically savvy
  • Subject matter experts
  • Love to learn
  • May be in learning-focused roles such as Training or support roles such as Exec Assistants
  • Walk through features and benefits with peers 1:1

What do they need from you?

  • Train the trainer materials: scripts, handouts, etc.
  • Documentation to ensure consistency
  • Permission/support to go "off script"
  • Ongoing communication and recognition: Emphasize how much they are helping others and how the community is benefiting as a result
  • Vision and context—they need to "get it"
  • Enabling technology to assist others remotely: WebEx, Skype, etc.
  • Opportunity to be viewed as leaders/intrinsic rewards

Model Citizenstophat.png

Who are they?

  • Role models
  • Set the tone and model social norms within the community
  • "Cool kids"/thought leaders, well respected by peers
  • Group owners and community managers
  • "People like me"—diverse population so everyone can find a role model

What do they need from you?

  • Give them specific things to do: e.g., respond to posts from leadership, resuscitate key conversations, etc.
  • Training on both how and why to leverage the community
  • Use-case-specific examples and inspiration/success stories



Who are they?

  • Guerrilla marketer, cheerleader
  • Spread the word to colleagues
  • Help paint the vision for skeptics
  • Feed others' passion
  • Passionate about social collaboration
  • Frequent, savvy users of other social tools

What do they need from you?

  • Tools to help spread the word: Leave-behinds, slideware/handouts, swag
  • Key messages (help them articulate key benefits)
  • Freedom to get the word out in their own way via their existing networks
  • Positive reinforcement and inspiration: Give them a reason to believe their energy is going toward a worthy cause
  • Social outlet with their fellow advocates to feed off each others' energy

Worker Beesconstruction.png

Who are they?

  • Early adopters
  • Eager to help
  • "Street team" of volunteers to help get community ready for launch and keep it lively over time
  • Help seed/migrate content
  • Document favorite features (help create training content)
  • Answer others' questions (and/or route to appropriate SME)

What do they need from you?

  • Specific task lists of straight-forward, relatively quick items
  • Deadlines
  • A few open-ended tasks so they can get creative if they want to
  • Opportunities to inform future community projects/foster a sense of ownership

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