Having an audience persona is a critical first step to creating winning social media content. Your audience persona will change over time. Either you will learn more about them or maybe they will change. As a basis to create a persona we suggest to use an iterative approach.
An iterative approach uses learning loops and this iterative model is called an audience persona spring. Formulated by professors and authors Aleksej Heinze, Gordon Fletcher, Tahir Rashid, Ana Cruz, the audience persona spring is a model for connecting your business objectives to your audience/buyer persona.
It’s called a spring because it involves three distinct learning loops. It’s called a spring because it involves three distinct loops:
- Content: What kinds of content will speak to your buyer persona
- Channels: What social channels does your buyer persona use most
- Data: Good data allows you to monitor your efforts, report on your success, and revise your strategy as needed.
Each loop includes four points, at which you plan, act, observe, and reflect. We provide more detail on these learning loops shortly.
Getting started with your audience persona
Let’s start to gather your information as you work through these steps.
1. Audience research
Use real-world data for your Audience personas. We do not recommend to use gut instinct. Collect data on your existing B2C customers such as:
- Spending power and patterns
- Stage of life
Gather this information from your social media analytics, CRM, or google analytics.
Pay attention to which social media channels your audience uses. We want to target content to your customers on the channels they are on. Try to find out where they spend time online.
Any easy way to start this is to look at your competition.It is likely that the competition have already done research, using tools like:
- Buzzsumo: To search for top shared content across social networks, including engagement data,
- Search streams: In your Hootsuite dashboard, set up streams to monitor your competitors’ posts and look for patterns in hashtags, post type, and content strategy.
2. Figure out customer pain points
What are the things your customers really need? What problems are your potential customers trying to solve? What barriers do they face in reaching their goals?
A quick an easy way is to check with your customer service team to see what kinds of questions they get the most. Find out if they can help you identify patterns about which groups tend to face different kinds of challenges.
Think about what needs to be solved for your customers.
3. What are your customer goals
So now you know the pain points that the problems your potential customers. How are you going to solve these problems. Your offer to solve these problems are the goals or aspirations that are positive things they want to achieve.
These goals might be directly related to solutions you can provide, but they don’t have to be. This is more about getting to know your customers than it is trying to match customers exactly to features or benefits of your product or service.
Your personas’ goals are important even if they don’t relate specifically to your product’s features. They can always form the basis of your content, or they might simply inform the tone or approach you take in your messaging.
4. Understand how you can help
Now that you understand your customers’ pain points and goals, it’s time to create a really clear picture of how your products and service can help. As part of this you need to focus on the benefits you offer to customers and not features.
A feature is what your product is or does. A benefit is how your product or service makes your customer’s life easier or better.
You can ask three key questions for each of the pain points and goals you’ve collected to better identify benefits:
- How can we help? Capture that in one clear sentence and add it to your persona template.
- What are your audience’s main purchasing barriers? And how can you help overcome them?
- Where are your followers at in their buying journey? Are they researching or ready to buy? Looking for reviews?
To learn more you could also consult your customers and social fans directly through a survey.
5. Putting it all together in a audience persona
You have done a lot of research and start looking for common characteristics. As you group those characteristics together, you’ll have the basis of your unique audience personas.
For example, you identify a core customer group of mothers in their 30s who live in big cities, like to bake, and own SUVs. Great — now it’s time to take this abstract collection of characteristics and turn them into a persona that you can identify with and speak to.
Give your audience persona a name, a job title, a home, and other defining characteristics. You want your persona to seem like a real person.
Aim for about the amount of information you would expect to learn from a short conversation on an airplane or at a bus stop. Don’t forget to include pain points and goals.
For example, your group of SUV-owning urban mums could be represented by the persona you name SUV Mum. Based on research, you’ll give Sue representative characteristics that make her a real person:
- She is 32 years old
- She has two kids, aged 5 and 2
- She lives in Torrens
- She works at home
- She has limited free time
And so on.
Remember, a list of characteristics does not equal a persona. A persona is a realistic description of a person who represents one segment of your customer base.
Sure, not all people in this customer group match the characteristics of your persona exactly. But this persona represents this customer group to you and allows you to think about them in a human way rather than as a collection of data points.
As you flesh out your audience personas, be sure to describe both who each persona is now and who they want to be. This allows you to start thinking about how your products and services can help them get to that place of ambition. It also then helps to guide you on how to create messaging and content for them too. In the end you will have something like this:
Remember to consider your audience personas every time you make a decision about your social media content. Do right by these personas and you’ll build a bond with the real customers they represent — boosting sales and brand loyalty.
Let us help you create the audience personas you need to create truly performing social media content. Schedule a free consult today.