5 Superpowers of the Employee Profile

In content marketing, bespoke content is the real workhorse of the bunch. It is created solely for you, using your products, messaging, and brand, and it drives organic traffic more than any other strategy.

Within the realm of bespoke content, there’s another real workhorse, one that’s often overlooked and underappreciated. It’s the personal profile, and it’s a powerful tool in demonstrating brand values, building a sense of community, raising product awareness, boosting organizational morale, and attracting exceptional talent. Personal profiles drive engagement and foster brand loyalty. Ultimately, profiles sell products.

There’s also the simple, profound truth that people respond to stories about people—especially those they see regularly. People like learning about their favorite cashier’s favorite product or where their favorite resident chef did her culinary arts residency. They feel more connected to the person and more connected to the brand.

Don’t take our word for it. There’s proof in the numbers. For our client Gelson’s Market, the metrics show that our Meet the Expert and Staff Pick profiles average 178 engagements per post and 154 likes. All other posts (excluding Instagram recipe cards) average 118 engagements and 102 likes.

And profiles aren’t just for grocery stores. Here at Ingredient, our most popular blog post is a profile of our ultra-talented culinary content producer (and all-around great person), Elsa Goldman, and her adventures as a pastry intern. Her profile gave us a chance to showcase the enthusiasm and expertise we have in-house, plus it’s just a great story. It's got sizzling hot pans, singed fingerprints, and flour everywhere.

Here are the top 5 reasons we love employee profiles—and why you should, too:

1. Profiles highlight brand values, including (but not limited to):

Expertise — The person being interviewed will naturally display their expertise as they talk, even if they’re shy or self-effacing. If they’re experts in the field, their expertise will shine through. Many people also radiate prestige, which is generalized back onto the brand.

The profile we wrote of Sherine Iskander, Floral Manager at the Gelson’s Market in Irvine, California, is a great example. In our interview with her, Iskander talks about her 40 years of experience in floral design and her time at the White House creating bouquets for First Lady Michelle Obama. This detail highlights Iskander’s professionalism and skill, and it’s more than a little glamorous. It’s hard to read this piece and not be seduced by the idea that if you stop by Gelson’s on your way home from work and pick up flowers, you’ll spend the evening gazing at a White House-worthy bouquet — at a price you could afford.

Iskander’s expertise also speaks to the level of excellence of all your employees. Highlighting one employee's skills and accomplishments signals that your entire staff is skilled and trustworthy.

Commitment to quality — In our Meet the Expert profile of Lunds & Byerlys Deli Director John Stueland, he talks at length about the quality of the products in the deli, sharing details customers would never otherwise know: “We tie an extra knot on the rotisserie chickens so they stay together,” says Stueland in the post. “I don’t think anyone knows that, but otherwise pieces fall off the chicken, and it doesn’t cook evenly and it burns.” On the surface, this might seem like a small reveal, but it speaks volumes about Lunds & Byerlys commitment to quality and attention to detail. This is a company that wants everything in their stores to be the very best, down to the very last knot.

Breadth and depth of products and services — If you find yourself in the Twin Cities, did you know you can go to any Lunds & Byerlys meat and seafood counter and ask for specialty meat cuts — a tomahawk steak or a Frenched lamb bone or anything your heart desires? If you read our profile of Lunds & Byerlys meat and seafood specialist Terry Fuchs, you do.

Likewise, if you’re in Los Angeles, you can get cheese recommendations from Gayle De Caro, who has 4,000 hours of professional, cheese-only experience. That’s the minimum number of hours a person needs to sit for the American Cheese Society’s Certified Cheese Professional® exam, which only 200 people or so in all of North America qualify to take each year — and, since the exam was first offered in 2012, only 1,000 people have passed. De Caro is one of those people, as anyone who reads our profile of her knows.

2. Profiles build community and drive engagement.

In our profile of Sherine Iskander, she talks about making a difference in people’s lives and the meaning she finds in designing arrangements for weddings, funerals, and other big occasions.

The comments we received on Facebook and Instagram reflect the truth of that. Here are some of the comments from the Facebook post featuring her profile:

“I love Sherine – she’s wonderful!”

“Sherine you are fantastic! Always so kind and thoughtful ... and she remembers everyone! Love our little chats and getting to see you 🌷❤️🌷❤️🌷”

“Sherine is the best! Gets to know her clients, their likes etc and is incredibly personable and caring, making sure you are always a satisfied client! She does a fabulous job ALWAYS! ❤️”

“She is the best in the business of 🌸🌼🌻”

3. Profiles showcase how employees carry the brand in heartfelt, lived ways.

During the pandemic, profiles allowed us to show how employees took safety seriously and embodied compassion for their communities. Gelson’s Aaron O’Neal talks about his commitment to sanitizing carts and treating the stressed-out and scared people waiting in line to shop as human beings. Lunds & Byerly’s Lead Delivery Driver, Patrick Murphy, talks about how honored he felt to help people during the pandemic and how he prioritized safety during deliveries.

These stories, from on-the-ground workers, humanized each company’s approach to a deadly crisis and reinforced a sense of community.

4. Profiles can showcase employees’ pride in their jobs, highlight career paths within the company, help attract talent, and boost organizational morale.

When Lexie Smith started as a bagger at Lunds & Byerlys, she never expected it to turn into her career. Eight years later, she manages the produce department: “I’ve never even had one of those ‘No! I’m done with this job!’ moments,” she says in the profile. “My general manager and my manager, they are really caring about me personally and they really care about employees’ mental and physical health. They don’t want you to be here just to be here. Overall, it is a great company to work for.” It’s hard to imagine a better endorsement for your company’s workplace.

People are sometimes nervous to be interviewed, but they’re really proud, too. Talking to someone about their job in detail — something they may never otherwise do — makes them feel valued in their role and their job. Few of us get to talk about ourselves and our jobs in a public space. Just the interest of the writer is nice. When else does a person get uninterrupted time to talk about herself, her job, and her experience and why it matters?

5. Profiles sell products.

As people talk about the work they do, they’re also talking about products — so they’re effectively selling products.

In our Staff Pick profile of Mayra Inzunza, an administrative assistant at Gelson’s corporate office, she raves about Gelson’s freshly squeezed orange juice — how every orange is washed and squeezed, how the juice is always made without preservatives, how the juice is so fresh it’s like eating an orange, how the taste changes throughout the year, depending on sweetness of the navel oranges that season. “I just can’t start the day without it,” she says.

For this Meet the Expert profile, we turned the lens on one of Lunds & Byerlys new vendors, R&R Cultivation, and highlighted all the cool aspects of the company and why customers should choose R&R mushrooms and, more specifically, why they should come to L&B to buy R&R mushrooms.

Commonly asked questions about profiles

Q: Do profiles need to be long?

A: No! For Gelson's, we've been writing short "Staff Pick" profiles that fit in a social post, and they've proven to be just as effective at getting impressions as our long-form pieces.

Q: How do I choose an employee to profile?

Everyone has a story to tell. Sometimes the stories are a little flashier and easier to spot (designing floral arrangements for the White House) and sometimes they’re hidden in the details (Aaron O’Neal’s innate skill at calming anxious shoppers). A good interviewer can draw these stories out.

Q: Profiles seem like the teacher’s pet of content. Should I switch up my social media strategy and make everything a profile?

No! We always recommend a mix of content, not only because bespoke content, like a longer profile, take more time and effort to create, but also because variety is key in content marketing.

Want to learn more about that content mix? Check out our article on the 5 Basic Ingredients of Content Marketing — or just drop us a line at Hello@ingredient.mn and we can sit down over a cup of coffee and talk about it.