Wednesday 28 September 2016

People First: Understanding Personas

Personas are a great way to help understand your audience and are important for developing better marketing campaigns. They help create an in-depth understanding of consumers, which leads to more effective campaigns, more relevant content and more consumer-centric experiences. However, many articles about this topic don’t address how you get there and why it matters. Personas are hypothetical archetypes based on research that represent real consumers and can be used in many different ways:

  • To figure out how to create a communications plan that speaks to multiple segments
  • To map out potential use cases for websites, social media initiatives, apps and other marketing materials
  • To help everyone understand and empathize with the target audience

Building personas goes beyond archetypes into actually creating a sense of how each persona behaves and interacts in social/digital. This creates a story not just of who the persona is, but what the persona does.

When developing personas, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Build personas on a mix of qualitative and quantitative research. Look at data, talk to people, browse what people in your audience are doing online and look for the most surprising and interesting things you find.
  • Boil your research down to a simple format people can understand and apply. Give your personas names that summarize their role in relationship to the brand and describe them in real, human terms.
  • Remember you aren’t making up a fictional character. If you realize you’ve never met this persona, seen them on TV, read about them in a book or can even imagine them being a human being, you should stop and re-evaluate.
  • Study the behavior of your personas and map them out by social media platform. Use the research you have to figure out more about your persona and how they behave online – what they consume, what they create, where they are.

Personas ground campaigns in a deep understanding of the target audience which is a key part of developing work that is social by design.

How well do you know your audience?

Image credit: ToddMorris

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