It’s one of the first questions I hear when I first meet business owners. How do we grab the attention of new customers on the sprawling terrain that is social media? What exactly does it take to be a cut above the hordes of inane tweets, posts and boasts that litter social media newsfeed? Is it possible to be engaging and develop real customer relationships in the midst of this ‘message-a-minute’ culture?
My response to the above is, ‘First, get to know your customer inside and out.’ A great way to do this is to write some Customer Personas. In my previous life as a corporate website producer, I came across forward-thinking digital agencies who recommended writing a selection of customer personas at the start of each new web development project. These “factional” stories came out of some deeper customer research. Each persona describes a person with a name, an age, a career, family life and education history that is fleshed out further still with a description of his or her learning style, attitudes, expectations, motivations and experience goals. The personas were then circulated to everyone involved with the project and these stories helped inform the decisions made about the website copy and design and the potential pathways created to respond to different types of customer behaviour.
More recently, I’ve resurrected and reworked the idea of using customer personas and applied it to the development of social media content. I find the process of writing a fictional customer persona based on real life scenarios, helps open up a creative stream of ideas. If I took the alternative route of looking for inspiration from a page of demographic statistics, I am pretty sure the ideas would not flow so freely!
For example, I recently wrote a number of personas for an adult education college I consult for. As I wrote, I started to think about how one of our ‘Customer Personas’, a man we called Gregory, would arrive at the College. I realised that Gregory would be looking for a way to travel cheaply to the College premises in central London. He probably likes to cycle, but he’s also wary of the fact that bicycle theft is high in this part of town. He may value the fact that there are several “Boris Bike” docking stations in very close proximity to the College. So through this creative process, we realised that providing a map of local bike docking stations around the college could act as an added incentive to sign-up for a course in that location. On Facebook, we could also remind fans of the service and provide links to the local docking stations in the run up to registration for each new term.
Here are a few key points to consider when using customer personas to develop social media marketing content for your own business.
- Don’t create too many personas. If you can keep it to three or four, it helps people within your business or organisation to recall the stories more readily. Something that is easily remembered is more likely to be used.
- In your social media planning meetings, always ask ‘What’s important to XXX this week?’ Social media thrives on timely, current content so make sure to reflect that and you’ll inject added oomph into your posts.
Now I’ve reconnected with this powerful idea, I’m not going to drop it in a hurry. If you’ve also got any stories about using customer personas for social media, I’d love to hear your experiences.
Or if you have any further questions about the process, why not drop me a note firstname.lastname@example.org