Social Media Success Tip: Using Personas to Target Your Market

So many clients ask, how do I create a community and engage my target audience on social media? 

Then I ask, well, who are you targeting? 

Most will say things like women, 25-54, 100k+ income and other old-school ways of defining markets.  I explain, in the new digital marketing arena, those kinds of target market definitions are much too broad.  To narrow it down for the client, I then ask, who do you serve?  Who, exactly, benefits from your product or service? You see, social media marketing is about serving, giving information, building communities, not selling or marketing “to” your constituents.

I first learned about using personas right out of college (oh, those many years ago) when I was working in a marketing agency. Back then, we liked to use personas to create compelling headlines and calls to action for our target markets. What is a persona? Very simply, you give your target market an actual name, face and characteristics of a real person. What movies do they like? What TV shows do they watch? Do they have children? What hobbies do they enjoy? Things like that. The more detailed you can get, the better.

For example, when I wrote The Parent’s Guide to Facebook, I broke my target market into three personas:

  1. Social Sally, the soccer mom. She loves to be involved with her kids and thinks it’s funny that they post silly pictures of themselves partying and acting crazy. She doesn’t realize this is going to be part of her children’s digital footprint and can affect them later in life.
  2. Pumpkin Sweater Peggy. You know, the woman who used to dress trendy and hip but once she had a child, everything changed. She starts wearing pumpkin sweaters as soon as fall rolls around.  And she probably has no clue what her kids are doing online.
  3. Helicopter Harriet. She hovers and makes comments on every post her kids make.  She writes things like “Johnny why didn’t you get an A on that test?” on their walls. She thinks she’s very involved, but her comments are embarrassing and can affect her kids’ social life and how they make friends.

Each persona was then broken down. How old are they? Are they in the PTO? Do they watch Modern Family, Brothers and Sisters or Family Guy?

Once I had a good idea of how each persona lives her life, I knew how to talk to her. Then I created different content that spoke to each persona.

Another persona example was created for one of my clients, a well-known alcohol brand. For them we created Brad, a 30-something up-and-comer who liked to impress his friends by knowing facts about the brands he drinks. So we crafted content that spoke to Brad. We asked trivia questions like why is the bottle a certain color, what did the writing on the seal mean, things like that.

It is easy (and fun) to create personas.  From there, creating content that is compelling for your target market to interact with you or your brand becomes easier.  Trying to be everything to everyone is impossible when you are creating a viable social media marketing plan.  Targeting, niche-ing, long-tailing, however you want to define it, is proven to be the way to success.

Now it’s time for you to take action:

Right now, take some time to develop one or several personas for your own target market. You might also want to include things like where your persona shops in your local area. And then go to those shops and observe the kinds of people who are actually there. Does reality match the persona you made up?

Write down the following and answer the questions, this will help get you started creating an accurate picture of your target market.

Persona Name:

Persona Age:

Persona Income level:

Persona Education level:

What activities, TV shows, magazines and books do they like?

Where do they shop?

You can not only better target your social media content, but potentially use this to find joint venture partners, as a basis for your pay per click advertising campaigns, video script creation, and much more.  Create different calls to action for your different personas– test, test, test and analyze results.

It is easy to be overwhelmed by all the social media noise, if you block it out and speak to your personas, you will be much more successful!