Employee Advocacy and Boosting Your Employer Brand, in conversation with Datadog

Cathal Divilly

In the latest episode of The Red Cube Podcast, Great Place to Work CEO Cathal Divilly is joined by Riley Stefano, Global Lead of Employer Brand Marketing at Datadog. Riley speaks into why building a robust employer brand is so important for organisations today, and how employees can often be your best advocates when attracting and retaining talent. Talking through the "ABCs" of employee advocacy, she also outlines the importance of leadership participation when it comes to boosting your brand.

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Riley Stefano

Global Lead of Employer Brand Marketing


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Cathal Divilly

Great Place to Work Ireland



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Cathal Divilly: Welcome Red Cube listeners. You're all very welcome to our latest podcast episode. Today I'm delighted to introduce the Global Team Lead for Employer Branding, Riley Stefano from Datadog, Riley, you’re very welcome. 

Riley Stefano: Hello, it's so great to be here, thanks for having me. 

Cathal Divilly: Riley, it's good to see you again. We haven't seen each other since January, when you were over at the Employer Branding Summit, which was really great. Riley, for our listeners, you might give them a sense of your role, who Datadog are and yeah, maybe your career to date so far. 

Riley Stefano: Absolutely. So hi everyone, I'm so excited to be here. I am Riley, I have been at Datadog for four years now. I kind of started at Datadog as our first employer brand marketer on the ground, at that time really joining in more of a recruitment marketing space, which a little bit of a difference – recruitment marketing, I see it more as that growth of marketing, LinkedIn advertising ... Think of more of the paid spend that you put behind advocating for your jobs.  

Now I work a little bit more on the employer branding. So really thinking about the content, the storytelling, how we really talk about the reputation of Datadog as an organisation. So it's been 4 amazing years - four years actually tomorrow, which is amazing to say. I started my career at HubSpot, someone that is no stranger to company culture and employer brand. I was there as the second person to join the team of really launching the HubSpot Life social media channels, which is just phenomenal to watch the growth and the stories that they continue to share there.  

I fell into this world of employer brand, I feel like it's a space that not many people naturally or organically kind of land in. I was an English literature major in college, knew I was never going to be a teacher, it was not my path! So kind of had to figure out what I wanted to do next. I love just advocating for company culture and telling the stories of people, how they connect with each other around the world, the people behind the product right? 

And especially at Datadog, Datadog’s such a I think technical and techie tech type of company that it's really great to kind of pull back the curtain a little bit and show the people that are building, marketing, selling, supporting this amazing product that supports so much of the rest of the world. Because Datadog as an organisation, it's really a company that's built by engineers for engineers. We create the observability and monitoring platform that helps engineers at companies all over the world across so many different verticals, be able to find little problems, little bugs and code that could, you know, be a detriment to an entire day's work of innovating and creating and building the next, you know, best future for their company.  

So it's been amazing to kind of tell those stories of the people behind it. I'm so passionate about this space and being able to really make sure that we're advocating and amplifying those voices and just sharing the wonderful things that they all do to make the company that we make and get other great candidates to want to work at Datadog as well. 

Cathal Divilly: That's great, Riley, thanks for that and congratulations on your four-year anniversary tomorrow, right? Congratulations on that, I hope there's a celebration planned, although I do know you're going skiing, so maybe that's going to be part of it. 

Riley Stefano: I'll definitely do some celebrating! 

Cathal Divilly: Yeah, I mean, absolutely, you've gotta celebrate, right? So employer branding, like it's a new-ish concept and I know a lot of organisations are waking up, I think to the importance of the area of employer branding. Let’s start with your definition of employer branding Riley, or what it means for you. 

Riley Stefano: Yeah. So when I think of employer branding, I really think that employer brand is what's telling the story of who you are as a company, right? It's why your candidates want to work there. It's your reputation. It's the stories of the people behind the company, behind the product. Employer brand, as I was saying, is a little bit different from traditional recruitment marketing, where recruitment marketing is much more the process of promoting your employer brand right? So that's kind of how I think about it is your employer brand, it's the stories that's helping to contribute to the recruitment marketing practices that make sure that candidates know and see the reputation of your company. 

Employer brand has so many different components to it too, right? There's the external storytelling. There's also a lot of the internal resource building, so we do a lot of recruitment enablement to really coach and educate our recruiters and hiring managers too on how to sell Datadog as a workplace of choice - how do we make sure that when we're not in the room, as the employer brand marketers I like to think of us as almost like the company cheerleaders; that we are arming our recruiters and our sourcers and our hiring managers with the right content, the right stories to educate a candidate about what their workplace experience would be like when they come here.  

And a big reason for that, and why, you know, employer brand is so important is because candidates actually trust the employees, the people that they're speaking to, three times more than the company, to provide that credible information on what it's like to work there - LinkedIn did this whole study behind it. And candidates don't want to hear from the company channels or from the product itself, yes, the product’s cool, the product’s always going to sell itself, but they wanna know what's it gonna be like to step in the shoes of the people that I'm gonna be working alongside. What is my day-to-day gonna look like, who are the leaders going to be that I'm working with, what are the culture happenings that go on, what is the diversity and inclusion initiatives that are being supported at the company? Those are the things that make a person decide and take that huge life step of OK, I am ready to change companies, to change jobs, to take that next step in my life with the support of, you know, my family, my friends, my colleagues, also because I have that storytelling, I know what is going to come of that experience because of the conversations I've had and the stories that I’ve been shared with. 

Cathal Divilly: When you explain it like that Riley, it's so important, it's not something that can be left to chance, right? It's such an important area, and then for the candidate, right, they're going to commit many years of their lives perhaps, working in this organisation. So it's so important both ways. So the Employer Branding Summit in January Riley, I loved your piece, and got great feedback from the audience. One thing I loved was how you spoke about the ABC's of employee advocacy, take us through the ABC’s. 

Riley Stefano: Absolutely, yeah. So advocacy, when I think about advocacy at its core and what we were just saying about employee storytelling, that reasoning why, that three times the amount of people want to hear from candidates versus the company - it comes from the employees. Because us as employer brand marketers, we are a small team. We are small but mighty but at most companies, it doesn't even exist - employer brand is not its own function. It's a lot of recruiters who have a passion for that creative storytelling who take it onto themselves to really find and tell those stories in different ways in outreach messaging or whatever it might be.  

So a lot of times the first step to a really strong employer brand is to anchor on employee advocacy. Employee advocacy as a programme and that A that you were just mentioning in the ABC’s is really A is for advocacy. How do you get your employees to be an arm, to be an extension of the brand that you're trying to build from an employer brand lens, so that they are sharing those stories and those day in the life experiences of what they're doing. 

Advocacy at its core, the way that I think about it, is really the act of promoting a company's culture, their mission, their product, one's own personal experiences on their own social media channels, right? How are they connecting with their network and creating that ripple effect, that domino effect of, you know, all the people that are going to get exposed to their story to help refer them into a position. It helps them too, because you refer great talent in that way by them advocating for the brand, becoming brand champions. It also helps to build that pride in the company, right? So you know, people who are really strong advocates of their brand, there's that sense of pride. I'm someone who has so much pride in the company that I work for, the companies I've come from, even when I speak about HubSpot as my alum, it's a company I'm so proud to say that I've come from because of the employer brand that's been built there, the company culture that they support. And it's amazing to kind of be able to carry that advocacy through.  

I just touched on the "B” a little bit, of the building of the brand champions. That's kind of what I really think about when I think about, you know, from the ABC lens. Your brand champions are going to look a little different depending on what the company is that you work at. And the secret is, depending on the audiences that you're striving to reach, not all these audiences are going to be the same. Therefore, your advocacy programme isn't really going to be one-size-fits-all, because in my world, a technical software engineer versus someone who is an enterprise sales executive, they want two totally different stories. They want to be served two totally different pieces of content to kind of help sell them on that experience of what it's going to be like to work there.  

So when you think about those brand Champions, 4 categories that I would really think about tapping into; the first one, of course, is company leadership. How do you get your leaders to really be advocates for your brand? Because they're people who have arguably the most clout when it comes to, you know, their representation on social media. I think specifically of LinkedIn when I talk about this advocacy work because obviously it's the biggest professional space where people are telling and sharing these stories. And a lot of times, you know, leadership might not have the time to organically be brand champions on their own, be posting that kind of content.  

So how do you as an employer brand team or even if it's from that creative recruiting space, help them to share and craft those stories? Maybe it's ghostwriting; as simple as kind of taking, you know, an interview, a Q&A with them and putting it into a blog post that they can post on their LinkedIn channel, we do that a lot with a lot of our leaders at Datadog. It's a great way to just get them to see also the power of their own brands. So company leaders – perfect group to kind of tap into to share those stories because employees really do want to hear from the leaders that they're going to be working under. 

Another great group are your organic employee industry influencers. Shocking but I guarantee within your companies, you have people who are already influencers across these different social media spaces. So a perfect example of this, a really tough group in our world to kind of build brand champions within are software engineers. They're not very outwardly, you know, openly sharing folks stereotypically, but there are a lot of people who are and who don't go with that stereotype and they're more so people who have, you know, 20 to 30,000 followers across different social media platforms and they share stories organically. So how do you tap into people who are already industry influencers and leaders and are, you know, speaking at conferences, who are, you know, showing up on podcasts, things like that, that you can tap into for some of those more difficult audiences to tell those stories. 

The third one, employee resource groups – your ERGs, right. Those different groups of people, especially as you're seeking to really build a better, more diverse workplace, get more diverse folks into your pipelines, really make sure that you're building a representative company, tapping into your ERG's - those different groups of you know, your parents, your LGBTQ community, your Black and Latinx communities, those are great ways to make sure that you are telling the stories and amplifying the stories of all the different people, all the different backgrounds of folks at your current company.

And finally, the last one that I would definitely say is a great and under-utilised resource are your company alumni. You've heard me talk about HubSpot probably three times on this call already because it's a company I'm so proud to have come from. It's a brand I will always preach to other people, I will always try and strive to, you know, connect them with the right roles and opportunities through the connections that I've built, because of that pride that I had built in being an alumni from that company. And it's something that you know as Datadogs, our employee base, end up leaving the organisation, we strive to ensure that they feel that same sense of pride because we all know we're never going to end up in the same job for forever. Some people might, and that's amazing. But the way the world has kind of moved, most people spend, you know, maybe five years or a little bit more in their current workplace before they decide maybe there is a different opportunity that they want to explore. Your alumni are going to talk about you whether you want them to or not, so you really want to strive to make sure that they have positive stories to share when it comes to that.  

And the last thing I'll chat through – the C of the ABC's of employee advocacy is really content creation and quick copy. How do you make your advocacy programme as easy and efficient as possible for an employee to be able to share that content. Because yes, there's a lot of organic ways that they'll share their own stories, but also there's a lot of ways that you can help to share stories of other people, or build stories of other people that they can help to amplify.  

Maybe it's their team members or their leaders or their colleagues within their department. But the more that you can kind of create, I like to use the phrase quick copy because it's like a one to two sentence, you know, piece of copy that you can share in something like a Slack channel. We've built a #DatadogLife internal Slack channel where we amplify all these stories from our employees so that other people can see those stories and help us to repost, reshare and reengage with that content so that other people in their networks, again, that ripple or domino effect can see all of this content that we're putting out.  

So those are kind of the quick ABC's – there's also I like to think of the D as data but I think we're gonna talk a little bit more about data so I will pause there and just say that ABC's – advocacy, building brand champions and that content creation. How can you make it easy and efficient as possible for people to build and support this advocacy programme? Those three key ingredients and you are going to find you're going to be very successful in just amplifying the brand that you're building. 

Cathal Divilly: It's great, Riley, and we love an acronym, right? So don't in any way apologise for it and it really helps us kind of understand it and learn it. So there's a lot in all of that I'd love to get into right, but one of the pieces is the alumni. So is there something specific you do? OK so typically organisations say goodbye to people and sometimes they say goodbye well and sometimes they don’t and sometimes never see that person again. I mean, is there something you do with Datadog to manage that alumni or how does that work? 

Riley Stefano: We haven't had the need to so far. So, I mean, you know, I think that there's a lot of organic ways that alumni, to your exact point, when they leave a good strong company organisation, make sure that they're going out with a bang; there's some type of celebration, there's that recognition of the impact that they have had. I will say one thing that HubSpot did do really well was they had an alumni programme and an alumni group that could come together and have conversation after they left HubSpot. Because a lot of people post HubSpot, HubSpot being a company that very much grows other smaller to medium sized businesses – a lot of those people who would leave HubSpot were alumni who started their own businesses, who had that entrepreneurial spirit and kind of continued to use HubSpot as a product to actually build their business off of. So they would bring these alumni together to kind of like, crowdsource off of each other, to knowledge-share with each other, to make sure that that community is still being built, even if they're no longer HubSpot employees. There's still that alumni network and community that's so proud to speak to the place that they've come from.  

And I've even seen that with Datadog, even though we don't have kind of that formal programme that I had seen be built at HubSpot. We have that sense of pride. And it's never gonna be everyone, you're never gonna have an entire alumni group that is so happy to – half the time they wouldn’t be leaving the organisation right, unless there's that better opportunity elsewhere.  

But especially as you build this advocacy programme, as you build those brand champions – I've seen the positive effect that kind of comes with the pride that's built, because the more that they're sharing and amplifying their story, it also reminds them of the celebrations. Like me celebrating 4 years coming up. It's such a reminder to reflect and to remind yourself of the impact you have had. And I think that the same can be applied whether it's an anniversary or the moving on to a new organisation to just take a moment, celebrate that person, celebrate the impact that they've had and it's going to leave them with that sense of pride so that that alumni carries that through with them and wherever they end up next, they're like, you know, someone asks them about their journey at Datadog as a perfect example, they can be like I had a great experience, I really contributed to building this product, I had a great manager, whatever it might be, and that's the sentiment you want new candidates coming in to walk away with when they have conversations, inevitably, with your alumni community. 

Cathal Divilly: Is there an opportunity for the advocates to develop their own posts that may be approved or how does that work? 

Riley Stefano: 100%, so one of the things that I do at Datadog, I run a personal brand workshop. So especially as we try and educate and enable people to really build their own personal brand while also in some ways keeping kind of like the Datadog brand standards in line if they're going to speak to Datadog as a company, obviously there's some crazy things that you don't want or publicly can't talk about from an external lens. You know, things like earning call information before it goes out, which people love to talk about at Datadog. And so I think that there's ways that you can educate people, especially people who might be a little bit more junior in their career, who don't yet know how to really advocate or speak to their personal brand.  

And so by running this personal branding workshop, we really try and give them the tools to educate them, not just on what are great stories that peers might want to hear about, but also, how do you tell those stories in a way that's going to help build their network so that they can build that kind of influencer type of status, for lack of better term, but also attract great candidates into the company, make sure that they feel confident in what they're sharing from a storytelling lens, because a lot of times too, if you don't give your employees the tools to feel confident in sharing content organically, they're just not going to do it. And that's a disservice to them as much as it's a disservice to you because everyone has so much knowledge to share with their networks that they don't even realise they have. 

Everyone is a subject matter expert in what they do. And so the more that we can also create this comfort and this confidence in building a personal brand, the more knowledge that's going to get shared and the more appetite for that always be growing type of mindset is going to come from them because they see the value in sharing content and connecting with other people, in networking and in continuing to learn, grow and develop. And that's only going to also positively contribute to the growth of Datadog from that learning appetite too, because it shows us our blind spots of areas that we have opportunities to continue to grow, that we can still learn that we can innovate on our product in different ways from these conversations that our employees are having externally. 

Cathal Divilly: And Riley, you're a fan of what you do, right? And I can feel that pride. Is there like a sort of certain DNA around a good advocate? Can anyone be an advocate? What's your thoughts on that? 

Riley Stefano: Anyone can be an advocate. I think that anyone who has a story to share and everyone has a story to share is a great advocate. I talk a lot in my personal branding workshop about that intersection between your personal and your professional brand. I very much believe in my personal brand in the ways that I show up in the workplace as an authentic individual, as an authentic leader. I lead with transparency, I lead with authenticity. I lead with being a human, being empathetic, and I think that for me that personal brand, it really works well with my professional brand. Another thing is I love to travel. I was a travel blogger when I first kind of started my career. And so I think getting opportunities to see the world and to connect with people is very much a part of my personal brand that has translated into my professional brand. 

And so I think to be a strong advocate or just to even feel like you want to show up as an advocate, it's finding those stories that resonate with you from a professional as well as from a personal lens. It's not just, you know, reposting the latest product release – which is great and like I love that when our product teams do that – but it's also, what's a great experience that you had or a learning lesson that you had or failure that you would be willing to share and talk about to educate others about. You know, things that you've learned, the advice that you could give because again, everyone is a subject matter expert in what they do and they have that knowledge to share. It's just finding the comfort and the confidence to speak up and share your story, which is arguably sometimes the hardest part. 

Cathal Divilly: Yeah, and sometimes you need that structure, right? Like the one to unlock that confidence for people and for them to see, OK, right, maybe I have something I can do here, you know, I have a lot to offer, which is great. So as we move forward on the chat, it's good to go backwards, I don't know if that makes sense but ... So for our audience right, so they're curious now about advocacy, how to start, right? And I know you shared the ABC's, but is there anything they need to think about or a specific group they need on board Riley, what's your thoughts there? 

Riley Stefano: One of the first things that I did when I joined both HubSpot and Datadog – we started that Slack channel that I mentioned. The reason being, the first thing that you want is kind of like a home base. You want a place or a community for your advocacy programme to be able to grow. And by having something like even a hashtag, even if it's not the Slack community itself, give your advocacy programme, as you're starting to define and build it, a hashtag. We use #DatadogLife at Datadog, we used #HubSpotLife at HubSpot ... Even just by having something as simple as a hashtag, you're going to start seeing people organically start using that hashtag in the content that they're sharing, and it gives them again kind of like that home or that community that they can also interact and engage with other people that are talking about that advocacy content, right?  

You can follow hashtags on LinkedIn, so if you follow that #DatadogLife, all of a sudden, all these other Datadog employee content pieces are coming up on your channel and you can engage and network. Maybe you're someone who sits out of our New York office and you're reading this piece of content from someone in Singapore. And it's so cool to also have that global connection between two different offices, maybe two totally different roles. So I would say if you're looking to just start, you know, square 1, establish a hashtag. That's the easiest way to make sure that employees can have a community, a home, a space to be sharing the content that they're probably already sharing – you'd be surprised at how many people are probably already speaking to and talking about your brand, whether it’s like “I just got promoted” or “I just celebrated an anniversary”, they're posting these milestones on their social media channels. Give them that little hashtag to add to their post and all of a sudden you're going to see that snowball effect, that ripple effect of more and more and more people clicking on and engaging with that hashtag. 

And then the second piece of it that I said, if you have some type of internal communications space, whether it's Slack, whether it's Microsoft Teams, whatever it might be. Create a channel where you can also collect and share these stories that are being posted. We have almost 1,000 people now in our #DatadogLife Slack community because so many people are so interested – we're humans, right? We're interested in hearing the stories of other people, we’re such curious individuals and people. We want to know what is that person in Singapore working on if I'm based out of the New York office. And so they want to see and hear and engage with those stories. And I think just giving them a place to do that internally allows them to also connect with one another. And in a world where in the last four years human connection looked very different, I do think that people are hungry for that human connection again, and an advocacy programme is a great way to also just connect those individuals in a very simple way. 

Cathal Divilly: It's great, Riley. And then you know, talent attraction and recruitment is on all our minds, right? And how do we do it and we're all trying to get that edge in terms of recruitment and better attraction. So what's your experience been around the metrics in terms of the results of the advocacy programme? 

Riley Stefano: Data has been a journey, I won't lie to you. When I first started in the employer brand space, I used to joke that I was allergic to data – I stole that expression from someone because data was not my strength! I think that what I've learned being at Datadog as a very data-driven (obviously) company is that data really does matter. It does matter in not just building and showing the impact and the ROI of the programmes that you're building, but also getting the buy-in from leadership, right? Because to your point, advocacy and employer branding, they're newer concepts and a lot of stakeholders and leaders, they don't yet know about the work that we're doing and the impact ultimately that it has. So when it comes to data I kind of put data into three different pillars with a bonus fourth pillar, which I'll talk about.  

The first one being, and think about it almost like a traditional marketing funnel or like a recruiting funnel, so there's that awareness phase, right? So how are you getting people aware of your brand? So think about the metrics as simple as company followers, like how are you seeing people engage on your LinkedIn page? Or if you have a separate social media like Instagram as a perfect example, how do you see that follower growth over time? Likes, reactions, comments ... LinkedIn talent insights, if you have access to that platform, they have an entire employer brand feature within it, so you can look at a specific audience in a specific place and actually see that employer brand growth over time, which is one that is a little bit of a hidden gem that I think a lot of companies would love to tap into if you have the resource and availability to do so. So brand awareness – think more of the traditional vanity metrics for lack of better term in a marketing space.  

The second piece of that funnel is the brand sentiment and engagement. So how are people actually engaging with that content that you're putting out there? Not just are they seeing it, are they, you know, reacting to it, but are they engaging with it? What does your engagement rate on this content look like? You know, you could have 1000 people see your piece of content, but if no one clicks on it, are people really resonating with it? And so looking at things like click-through rates, engagement rate.

Social listening, so Glassdoor is another great place to look at this employer brand sentiment and engagement. It’s the love/hate relationship for many of us from the employer brand space! But Glassdoor is something I'm super invested in because I think it's a space where your employees and your alumni are going to be sharing their feedback anyway. You don't want that feedback to just go down a black hole because that feedback, anything within the employer brand space is great feedback and value to help build on your company culture as a whole, right.  

So the more that you can kind of listen to the sentiments that your current employees as well as your former employees are putting on those places like Glassdoor, Blind is a big one in the technical community also. It's a great way to just make sure that you're engaging with that audience. We have our people business partners actually go and respond to every single piece of feedback that's left on those platforms because we want to make sure that these people, these employees, feel heard and candidates also see what we're doing and striving to do to, you know, continue to better ourselves as a company and as a culture.  

And the third one, the one that I think has taken the longest time to really dig into from an employer brand lens, is ultimately that pipeline conversion, right? So as we think about traditional recruiting, how are we actually getting people, getting leads into our funnel and what does that hire look like? We're actually measuring cost per hire for the first time ever really at Datadog, because we really want to know and understand from the spend that we have on different partnership programmes, on different events or conferences that we take part in, what is that cost per lead, what is that cost per applicant, but also are we seeing the results from a hire perspective? 

The hire piece of it is a little bit difficult to track though, and something that I would encourage companies to explore if you have the opportunity to do so are what we're calling “influenced hires”. So there's ways that we're trying to track and measure hires not just from the direct source because we found that, using an applicant tracking system as a perfect example, can be a little bit difficult in trying to drill down the exact hire that comes from, you know, one video or one blog content, like it's nearly impossible, right?  

So what we've actually implemented are talent communities. And so all of our content starting mid last year drives people into these talent communities where we can actually watch over time how they move through our candidate funnels and cycles to see, you know, maybe it's a year, two, five years later, they could have engaged with a piece of content and then become a hire, and that's that influenced hire metric, which is for the first time ever, we're actually able to really measure. And it's gonna look different at every company. We're lucky to have a candidate relationship management, a CRM tool called GEM, which we use to track that talent community. But you can also do that on platforms like LinkedIn, having the lead generation forms as a perfect example, but I think that we're just hitting the tip of the iceberg when it comes to data and metrics in the employer brand space.  

And I will say too every employer brand team measures things differently. But I look at it most similarly to an intersection of metrics between marketing and recruiting. So how are you getting that brand awareness, engagement and sentiment, but also what does that look like in terms of the hires coming in and referrals coming in? I think referrals is a big piece of it, especially as we talk about that advocacy side that we don't really mention too often, but I do think has a huge driving impact and factor.  

And that fourth kind of like secret one that I like to think about and I'm actually starting to do a little bit more research around-  

Cathal Divilly: This is a secret now! 

Riley Stefano: A secret one! Some people I've talked to are starting to measure this, but I haven't done a ton of research so I don't have a ton of wisdom to share around this one, so I'd be curious if some of the listeners have done any exploring of company retention as it relates to advocacy, right? So what we were talking about in the beginning of like building those brand champions, it creates that sense of pride – do you see people who are more active from that advocacy lens remaining at companies longer, what does that length of tenure look like? What does that quality of hire look like? If they're really being drawn in from some of these employer brand or influence sources. So do you see decreased retention rates as more and more people are talking about the brand from specific departments, from specific teams? It's just so fascinating. It's again an avenue I haven't really dove into and explored too much, so I'd be so curious if other people out there have really started to think about retention strategy as a way to, you know, measure and track and see the impact of employer brand as a whole. 

Cathal Divilly: I'm curious about if you're a really good advocate, does that increase your equity out there in the market in terms of potential employers because you're not just bringing your skills, but you're bringing that advocacy capability as well? I think that's gonna be interesting. 

Riley Stefano: I agree 100%. It’s that influencer you know, in lack of better term, type of status. Because you're building this brand reputation not just for yourself, but for your company by having the opportunities to kind of show up in front of these different audiences, refer people in. I mean, it's also a benefit to the employee; a lot of companies have referral programmes. So you can also monetise, for lack of better word, you know talking that influencer kind of lingo, off of being really strong advocates because you're also drawing really strong talent. And also in turn, you're building a really strong team for yourself, whether you're a leader or you're an employee looking to surround yourself with really talented peers, it's a great way to make sure that you're building a team that you feel really strongly about because you're essentially helping to attract that talent in from your own network. 

Cathal Divilly: And have you had to gamify it or reward advocates or anything like that? 

Riley Stefano: We've tried in the past a couple like “content contests” I like to call them. We did like something around March Madness when I was at HubSpot, which I thought was a great idea run by my manager at the time. So it was for our sales folks specifically who you know, sales stereotypically, they have that competitive, that kind of athletic background. And so we used a March Madness points bracket to kind of encourage people to take one of three actions. One of them was as simple as, you know, sharing a LinkedIn post on their LinkedIn, they got like a point for that. The second was refer someone into the company, they got two points for that and depending on however many points that the people had at the end, they did win a prize.  

And so we've done small programmes of gamification like that. But there are actual if you do have the resources to be able to look at and explore companies who help to build your employee advocacy – one company I would love to plug is one called DSMN8 because they're a company all built on employee advocacy, and it's spelled DSMN8 with the letter 8. And the reason I love and I'll mention them now, is because they have an entire gamification piece built into their product. The other thing that I think they do a fantastic job is showing you the earned media value. So how much money you save by essentially having these advocates go out and talk about your brand versus you having to spend that money on a platform like LinkedIn from an advertising perspective.  

So they're really cool if you have the resources and the budget to be able to test out or trial a platform or a programme, DSMN8 is a really amazing space to just kind of like see, if this is a pilot programme, if this is something that you can test and trial to get people bought in and adopt something that you've maybe never tested or tried before. 

Cathal Divilly: That's great. What's next for this programme, in terms of Datadog, like is it the same as usual? Are you looking to build something new on it? Like how do you see that? 

Riley Stefano: So last year we did a lot of content from our individual contributors, which obviously really resonated super well. This year we're shifting that focus a little bit more to that leadership level of content because we're seeing really the impact that leaders have on sharing and telling their stories, whether it's, you know, what they've learned, the advice that they have, as well as simple as what they're looking for in someone kind of building their team. And so we're tapping into things like leadership, ghost writing as I was mentioning earlier. So how do we help them craft those stories and in turn, what we're seeing is these leaders, you know, you write 1 great piece of content for them in a blog post or whatever it is, and they're like, oh, I see the magic of that, like, I see how it really helps – taking 20 minutes a day, or not even a day, let's call it a week can really help to build not just the company's brand reputation, but their own brand reputation as a thought leader in this space.  

I think too that sometimes especially when it comes to leadership content and any kind of content, any type of advocacy content, we talk a lot about the LinkedIn posting, the statuses, the blog posts, podcasts and speaker opportunities. But something as simple as a comment on someone else's post, that little tiny bit of engagement goes a long way. And the reason I say that is, especially when it comes from a leader, even if it comes from an individual contributor; all of a sudden, if someone's reading a post and you comment as one person on that person's post, you're exposed to the person's network of maybe 1000 people who you might not have been exposed to before. So it creates again that ripple domino effect from one simple small action.  

I also train our leaders in this personal brand workshop on occasion, and one of the things I tell them is if time and bandwidth is a challenge, as it is for most leaders, think about how can you take maybe 5 minutes a week and just go through your LinkedIn feed and comment on five posts of five employees across your company? Maybe it's on your team, maybe it's an anniversary or celebration.  

The other thing that we're kind of trying to build into that is leadership announcement posts. So as leaders come into the company and we want to celebrate that growth from a leadership lens, how do we celebrate their joining of the company. It's been an amazing thing to watch because they get so much engagement, people love to see the growth from a leadership lens and celebrate those new leaders who are coming in. So that's been another great way.  

And then the third thing that we're really testing out this year from a leadership perspective is giving leaders these graphics to welcome their team members. So something that's again super easy and efficient – we have a template for them, all they have to do is plug in the person's photo and their name and their job title and they can organically share it on their LinkedIn channel. So it also gives leaders a little bit of autonomy, but also a very quick, easy and efficient way to amplify a story in the growth of their own team from something as simple as a “Welcome to Datadog, we're glad you joined the pack”, which is kind of like our CTA for our candidates in a very simplified way. So leadership content is actually how we're really thinking about how we can show up from an advocacy lens to also get our leaders to see that value and impact in taking 5 minutes, maybe a week, to just kind of build up some of their own advocacy. 

Cathal Divilly: Wow, so there's a lot of investment there in terms of leadership, right, in developing their understanding and their appreciation of it which is which is so important. You spoke about March Madness there, I'm a massive fan of March Madness. 

Riley Stefano: Me too, a basketball player in my former life! 

Cathal Divilly: Yeah, former basketball player, you're going skiing tomorrow, four year celebration. Do you have a favourite Netflix show? 

Riley Stefano: OK. Two very different ones. So first, I'm a reality TV fiend, so Love Is Blind, I have been bingeing the whole show – I know, I can’t help it! The second one though, OK from my childhood – Avatar The Last Airbender. I used to watch that cartoon all growing up. They just came out with a live action version of it. It is phenomenal! You know that earth, wind, fire – I feel like I'm singing a song right now! But coming from like that just childhood nostalgic background and that cartoon that I used to watch as a kid and now it's like a live action, really great TV series, have to plug it. But can't not plug Love Is Blind because I just finished the finale last night, so I’ve got to. Two very different extremes, but that's what balances me out, I think. 

Cathal Divilly: I'm a big fan of reality TV as well, I haven't watched Love Is Blind. Do you like the awkward moments or?  

Riley Stefano: I mean I cringe obviously at the awkward moments. I love the happy endings and I hate to say there's so few times with those like happy endings, but for me it's also like I love watching the stories of people. I think being in this profession being a storyteller by trade, like I just love seeing and hearing about different, even when I connect with people like I love hearing their stories, where they've come from, why they're there, everything happens for a reason.  

My favourite word in the world is a word called “sonder” and it basically means meeting a person and recognising that you're never going to understand the life experiences that they've had because you've never walked a day in their shoes. But knowing that they've had this incredible life and journey that's existed. I think of this even like grandparents as a perfect example, you only see so much of a life of the great grandparents that you are lucky enough to have, and they've had this whole life experience before you. And that's why I even love reality TV, tying it back to that because it's like you get a glimpse into this person's life that you’re probably arguably never gonna meet, but you still get to hear and see a whole different perspective of life that you know you're never going to experience yourself because you’re a totally different human. 

Cathal Divilly: I feel like we could have done a whole episode on reality TV. 

Riley Stefano: Literally, I could talk to all of them! 

Cathal Divilly: Maybe that's the next episode. Riley, you've given us so much to think about there, the ABC of advocacy and so much more. You've given us a new word certainly. I've never heard the word "sonder” before. You’ve given us a lot, you've been very generous with your time. It was great to see you in January at the Employer Branding Summit and thanks a lot for joining us today. 

Riley Stefano: I appreciate it. It's great to be here. Thanks so much for having me. And if people have questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me on LinkedIn. 

Cathal Divilly: Thanks Riley. 

Riley Stefano: Awesome. Thank you.