Social Media Personas: What You Need To Know

How Does Your Target Audience Engage On Social Media?


Mannequins Social media
platforms allow different facets of your audience’s personality to shine through. These traits are useful to incorporate into your marketing personas to better understand and develop targeted communications and content. These characteristics form a social media persona.

Here are three attributes that influence social media persona development.

Motivation for social media participation. One way to assess your social media audience is to understand what drives them to engage with your company on these platforms. By doing so, you can more effectively fulfill their objectives. Here are five of the major categories of participants who interact with firms on social media.

  1. Fans. These participants like your product or firm. They’re willing to show their association with your organization. But don’t assume that their willingness to raise their hand translates to purchase.
  2. Information seekers. These social media participants are focused on finding out more about your products and organization. They actively look for additional information to make the optimal purchase decision and to maximize product usage.
  3. Discount hunters. These are the price savvy shoppers. They associate with you on social media only to get access to discounts and promotions. They’re only loyal so long as you’re giving them the best offer.
  4. Thought leaders. When these social media participants communicate, others listen. They tend to have influential blogs and large numbers of followers. They’re popularity can be social media based or from real life. They’re in-the-know trendsetters. They can move the social activity needle when they endorse your product or blog. Their comments and shares drive traffic.
  5. Detractors. These people have issues with your firm and want others to know it. Often they’ve tried other routes to get their grievances addressed.

Function in the purchase process. It’s useful to know if the people who engage with you on social media platforms are in the market to buy from your organization. If so, how does this influence what they seek on social media platforms?

  1. Prospects. These are potential customers checking out your firm. They may have heard about your company from friends and colleagues.
  2. Customers. These people have bought from your firm recently or in the past. They may be looking to see your current offering, to get more information regarding product usage, or just want to associate with your firm.
  3. Influencers. These people help make the purchase decision. They may do the research or just give their input. In large organizations, especially B2B and not-for-profit, their opinion can sway purchase decisions.
  4. Decision makers. These are the people who ultimately make the purchase choice. Within a company, they have a lot of authority.
  5. Fans. These are past purchasers who like your company and/or products. They’re worth their weight in gold because they tell others to buy from you. They want to engage with your company on social media.
  6. Employees. The people who work for your firm. Train them to represent your company, particularly your social media team and customer service reps, to participate in a way that’s consistent with your organization. Have a set of social media guidelines so employees know how to identify themselves on social media platforms when they represent you and when they’re engaged in their private lives.
  7. Competitors. These participants work for your competitors. Unless your competitors have high visibility thought leaders, you may not be able to distinguish them since they’ll engage through personal social media accounts. Assume your competitors know what you’re doing on social media.

Type of social media interaction.  On social media platforms, participants act in one of three major ways.  90% lurk, 9% comment, 1% create

  1. Lurkers. Comprising roughly 90% of your total visitors, this is the great silent majority. While many marketers and bloggers are disappointed that these people don’t “do anything,” in reality, these lurkers can be your loyal readers or visitors. They just don’t do anything public on your social media platform. Notice, I didn’t say trackable. They are the bulk of your visitors generating the bulk of your pageviews.
  2. Commenters. Accounting for about 9% of your visitors, these people take a small action. It can be a social share, voting or short comments. The easier you make it for them to do something, the more likely they are to act. These participants may exercise their creativity in terms of curating other people’s content since this is a low involvement way of distributing content.
  3. Creators. Comprising a mere 1% of your base, these people actively engage. They leave comments, review your products or write guest posts. For most marketers, these participants are nirvana. Of course, you have no control over whether what they say is positive or negative. This small percentage of active contributors is one reason that marketing plans based on user-generated content are challenged.

To more effectively engage with your firm’s prospects, customers and fans on social media, it’s useful to create a social media persona or to augment your marketing persona with this information. Specifically, consider what motivates them to engage with you on social media platforms, understand their function in the purchase process, and the way they interact on these platforms.

Are there any other social media related attributes you think should be added to this list? If so, what are they and why would you add them to the list?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/manwhoyells/3970422131/
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  • Emily

    Heidi,

    Thanks for a great post. The distinction between buyer personas and social personas is an important one to keep in mind. How a prospect behaves online is important info to have when creating a comprehensive buyer persona. Very impressive article! 

  • Melonie Dodaro

    Very helpful post.  It is really very important to learn to understand what a prospect needs when they visit your site.  Or their motives when they do so.  It helps you understand and profile them according to their desired result.

  • http://www.newsmakergroup.com/blog/ Suzanne Mannion

    Two other points to consider. Be sure to establish your company’s communication objectives before interacting with the audiences – must ensure they are integrated with your overall program.

  • http://www.adgorithms.com/advertisers/targeting-audiences targeted audience

    I think it’s a real challenge to identify your target audience but you need to have at least one person in mind when you do start marketing … Knowing your voice and how you want to move forward can often help you find that audience – kinda backwards when you go by traditional methods but it does work!