The Education Series: Advocacy
I’ve written advocacy into my past three job descriptions. In fact, as an Analytics Advocate, it was my job. So what is advocacy and how can you get started with it?
I’m sure there are many definitions of what advocacy can mean, but to me, it means this: Being present in market (via blogs, social media, conferences, etc) to share your best practices, thoughts and experiences on behalf of a practice, product, or field. Further, I think there is a responsibility built into advocacy to educate others about the topic you are advocating for, not just preach to them.
I’ve spent the last 5+ years of my career advocating for data, analytics, and optimization best practices. At times, this was a “20% project” for me where I had a negotiated agreement with my (old) boss and the GA Education team to help out 1-3x/quarter for advocacy events. This generally meant a few days on the road for a conference every now and then, and an occasional blog post. I didn’t realize at the time that my future boss was training me for the role I would eventually take on 🙂
Then, it was a full time job and an official title to represent the Google Analytics suite of products to the industry. Going from advocacy as a 1-3x/quarter speaking engagement to making it a full time job was interesting, challenging, frustrating, exciting, and fulfilling, often all at once. I spent my weeks and months planning out new training programs, writing and editing training content, recording much of said content, meeting with users and partners to understand needs, wants, and frustrations, and peppered in between all that was on the road at least once a month to attend a conference or event to represent my efforts live in person. This past year I even spent a full 3+ months straight in Asia to focus my advocacy efforts on a region often underserved but in desperate need of more attention, training, and educational focus.
Now, as I’m moving on to my next role as a Product Manager for Firebase Analytics, I’ve again built advocacy in as a key part of my role. In fact, from the get go I was very clear that I believed advocacy was an important part of the job, and that being in market to teach and train our many many users of Firebase Analytics about best practices, integrations, attribution, and more was something I wasn’t willing to compromise on – it’s a necessity. Thankfully, in part due to my track record, and in part due to a clear need in the market, my points were heard and agreed to.
Even if they weren’t, I feel that it’s my job as a Product Manager to advocate for my product, both internally and externally. More than that though, I tend to advocate on behalf of strategies and principles, rather than product specific details (of course, I do that as well at times), because I care more that people are thinking about analytics, data, and optimization in the right ways rather than focus their time and efforts just on a specific tool. Tools are a means to an end, of course, but in my opinion they are a much smaller part of the larger thought process and cycle of getting there.
In short, to me, Advocacy is pushing for what you believe in, and sharing those thoughts widely with others. Sure, it’s hard to believe in a product sometimes. If you can’t be passionate about what you’re talking about, find something else to talk about. Over the past two years I’ve found that one of my biggest passions has been advocating for the #WomenInAnalytics movement. This isn’t product or even strategy specific. It’s bigger than that. And it gives me a way to express my passion to an entire industry that I hope to sway, ever so slightly, with my passion.
Krista, I recently reached a crossroads and decided to focus in on analytics as a primary skill set. I’m starting a YouTube channel to help bloggers and mompreneurs to use Google analytics to maximize their time, money and energy that they invest in their business. I recently found you as I’ve been studying up on analytics. I just wanted to say that I’m a fan, I love your passion mentioned above, and also loved your definition of advocacy in the post. You’re on my list of people I want to meet someday.