You’ve heard about how important social media has become as an online marketing tool, so you started being active on a number of social platforms to promote your brand. The problem is that you’ve been using social media for some time, but you haven’t really seen any significant returns on your investment. What seems to be causing this lack of ROI and what can you do about it?
One of the most common reasons why businesses fail to gain ROI from their social media efforts is their failure to fashion their content to target specific personas. You may have succeeded in building a solid following and establishing a tight community on social platforms, but if you fail to target personas, you aren’t likely to achieve your social media marketing (SMM) goals. If the things you do on your social accounts don’t affect your bottom line at all, then your efforts are wasted.
What Are Personas?
Simply put, personas are fictional characters you create as a representation of each type of person/buyer who belongs to your target market. Other than a fictional name, you should also specify the attitudes, behaviors, and buying preferences of each persona you define. Personas tell you what the specific desires and limitations of your target market are. This should guide you in making important decisions about the way you interact with your social media audience.
Why Personas Are Important
Social media is perhaps the most personal medium you can use in online marketing, since it requires you to not only talk to people, but actually speak with them. This is why you need to make sure the things you talk about are those that matter to your audience, and among the best ways to learn what matters to them is to create personas.
There are several ways in which personas can help in your SMM efforts.
1. Personas help ensure your content matches your target demographics.
You already know that one of the best ways to catch attention and gain followers on social media is to launch contests and offer freebies, right? If you want your contests to be truly successful, though, you have to make sure the contest mechanics and the prizes you offer are something your target demographic will appreciate. If your product caters to teenagers, for example, does it really make sense to offer a knitting set as a prize?
The same is true for other forms of content you post on your social pages. You need to talk about things you know your audience will appreciate. When you know whom you’re talking to, it’s much easier to determine what you should be talking about. When you talk about things that matter to your audience, they’ll be more likely to share your content with others.
2. Personas help ensure that you speak your target market’s language.
You may succeed in identifying the topics your audience will appreciate, but if your manner of speaking doesn’t resonate with them, you’re still unlikely to achieve the ROI you expect from your social media efforts. Personas help you get to know your audience well enough for you to create content in the right language, tone, and style. You need to use the jargon your audience uses and avoid jargon they likely won’t understand or relate to.
These may be small details, but they’re very important details in the world of social media where people go through lots of content in a matter of minutes. You need to deliver your message in familiar terms and tones to make sure you catch their attention.
3. Personas help you create content from your target market’s perspective.
You need to get into the mind of your audience so you can understand their goals, perspectives, and preferences. This helps you determine which types of content they’re likely to find interesting and compelling. For example, if your target audience includes young professionals who work full-time on weekdays, then it won’t do you any good to hold special events on Wednesday nights. These people most probably party on weekends, which means they’re more likely to join your events on those days.
4. Personas make you sound more like a real person.
Many businesses make the mistake of projecting their own preferences and goals onto the experience they provide online. The problem is that your corporate goals and business preferences may be entirely different from those of your target audience. Other than that, you may also make the mistake of talking more like a corporation and less like a person. Remember that social networking sites are designed for social interaction, not corporate transactions.
People prefer speaking with other people on social platforms, so you need to speak like a person, not a corporation. By creating personas, you provide yourself with a “face” that you address your content to. As a result, this helps you come off as a real person (be “humanized”) speaking with another person, empathizing with them, and addressing their concerns. It not only helps you relate to your audience, but it also allows your audience to relate to you.
5. Personas help you get the right piece of content to the right people at the right time.
Getting to know your audience through personas also allows you to deliver the right kind of content at the right time. For example, if you sell sports and recreational items for people in their late teens to mid-twenties, then you need to let them know about new products before the next sporting season or major vacation arrives, not when the season has already started and they’ve likely already bought their gear.
In general, creating personas gives you a clear purpose and helps you avoid creating useless social media content. It prevents you from wasting your time, effort, and money on SMM activities that aren’t likely to deliver any significant results. So, I guess your next question will be, “How do I get started with creating persona-driven content?”
Here are the steps you need to take:
1. Do Some Research
Collect as much qualitative and quantitative data about your target customers as you can. These data will allow you to paint an accurate picture of your ideal buyers. You can gather data through online surveys, email campaigns, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, and general information on social media channels.
2. Conduct Persona Segmentation
Based on the data you gathered, give a detailed description of each buyer persona. The description may include a name, a job description, age, and other demographic information. The key is to make the description as detailed as possible. And while your buyer personas are all fictitious, it often helps for you to create an illustration to go with the name. Attaching a face to each persona makes them feel more real.
3. Identify Each Persona’s Preferences
Check the qualitative data you got from your research and seek to answer such questions as: “What kind of information is Persona 1 looking for?” “What is the most pressing need of Persona 1?” “On which social networking site does Persona 1 usually hang out?” “What usually convinces Persona 1 to make a purchase?” “What type of information does Persona 1 usually share with friends online?”
Be sure to seek the answers to these questions for each persona you created. Remember that the more you know about each of your ideal customers, the easier it will be to customize your content according to their individual needs and preferences.
4. Share Your Buyer Personas
Everyone involved in your online marketing efforts should know who your ideal customers are. In fact, it’s best for you to let everyone in your company know about the personas you’re targeting. Set a schedule for you to introduce the personas you created to each department in your company, and allow your staff to offer input as to how they normally interact with each type of buyer and what traits they’ve observed in each persona. This gives you a more accurate picture of your ideal customers and helps ensure that everyone in your company is on the same page where your online marketing efforts are concerned.
5. Create Persona-Driven Content
Start creating content pieces for each persona you’ve created. Ask your content creation team to put themselves in your ideal customer’s shoes each time they create new content. Once you’ve decided on a topic to create content about, ask yourself if that topic is something any of your target personas is interested in. Ask yourself if the information you’re about to provide is something at least one of your target personas will appreciate. Every single SMM strategy you employ should be based on your personas to make sure your efforts are never wasted.
Even when you think you know your social media audience, it still pays to do persona mapping and get inputs from the rest of your team. You may be surprised at how little you actually know about your target customers. Learning as much as you can about your customers helps make your SMM campaigns more effective. This, in turn, should help increase the ROI from your SMM efforts.