Most marketers agree that buyer personas are invaluable for delivering your content to interested viewers. Having a crystal clear conception of exactly who your customers are is crucial for engaging them and effectively marketing to them. Personas help to cut down on extraneous and resource-heavy marketing techniques, and eliminate the wasted content that doesn’t reach the right people.
Many content publishers struggle with the research stage of creating usable, accurate personas. Among the most common methodologies for gathering data on audiences are:
- Online surveys
- Phone interviews
- Focus groups
These sources are great for providing dynamic, detailed responses. The interview questions and analytics are customizable to cover a wide range of questions about audience behavior. However, gathering and analyzing data taken directly from clients (or prospects) and your website’s analytics can be time-consuming, and may not give you the most complete picture of your audience.
Most brands already have a readily available source of data to use for creating buyer personas, but may not recognize its potential. Your social media presence has been passively recording your followers’ behavioral patterns, demographic information and interactions with your brand, so the first step for marketers creating personas is to harness this information.
Facebook’s Insights is a powerful tool for collecting data for your audience personas. There are tens of millions of Facebook Pages for brands, and roughly half of all Facebook users “like” brands on the network. It’s time mine this massive network for usable data for building your personas.
Besides finding demographic information on gender, age, location, language, you can compare how each sector of your audience interacts through likes, comments, shares, and advertisement impressions or clicks. Since Facebook’s Insights data about your audience is piped over from their individual accounts, it is extremely accurate, and can paint a clear picture of people for your personas.
Facebook also allows you to speak directly with people about any topic – posting on the network gives you real-time updates on who is engaging with your content. The layout of the network makes it easy for administrators to compare fan behavior from post to post. Based on each post’s performance, brands will be able to analyze which topics, tone, language style, length and more are most appropriate for their audience, giving them insight into their chief personas.
The addition of Facebook’s emotions makes it even easier to infer how their audiences are reacting to their content, and help to paint a clearer picture of what that audience likes. Facebook’s polling tools are an effective way for page admins to collect data on their user base. It is easy to get users to respond to polls, which can save marketers time scheduling and conducting interviews individually.
LinkedIn is the most professionally oriented of the major social networks, so most users present themselves accurately when it comes to how they interact with businesses. The information that they publicly represent themselves with on LinkedIn is detailed and transparent enough to fuel your buyer personas.
Looking through LinkedIn’s groups is a great way to see what people in specific industries are openly sharing and discussing. Examining the content that professionals on LinkedIn are most excited about will provide you with valuable information about what type of content works best for the audience you want to appeal to.
Like Facebook, Twitter Analytics is a valuable tool for mining data on audience behavior, and can help to round out the data for your personas. Analytics include the similar common demographic information as Facebook, but also provides unique, in-depth information about your audience’s specific interests.
Comparing the difference in demographics between your networks, (primarily Twitter and Facebook) will shed more light on your audience, and help you craft even more detailed personas. For example, if a post with a link to a photo album performs well on Facebook, but poorly on Twitter, it could imply that:
The brand’s followers on Facebook:
- Have more time.
- Appreciate deeper content.
- Are more likely to be using devices with good connectivity
- Most likely use screen sizes that allow for strong engagement with rich media.
The brand’s followers on Twitter:
- Appreciate quick snippets of content.
- Are likely to be on the go.
- Are unable to spend time looking through a photo gallery.
- Skew toward desktop more than the brand’s Facebook’s users.
Compare each network’s success with posts about the same topic to further segment your user base and get a clearer impression of who you are most effectively reaching with your content.
Don’t forget about Google Analytics
I mentioned Google Analytics earlier as an example of a traditional source for information about your audiences. However, it is also an excellent resource for learning more about your social media followers, and can even serve as a way of confirming your findings from each individual network.
Google Analytics can help you segment your audience and determine the route they took to reach you on your social network. This can shed light on their browsing behaviors, the device they used, their level of knowledge about your brand, and how much they engaged once they arrived at your social network page.