Designing Digital Personas

Designing Social Personas

As planners and social media strategists work together to close the empathy gap, we’re finding ways to build intelligence gleaned from social into a time-tested collection of traditional planning tools.

The Persona is not a new concept, though sometimes the output tends to generalize behavior in a clinical way that lacks inspiration for creative thinking.  Distilling research to a set of heuristics that guide strategy is important.  Though, if you generalize too much you’ll end up with an unhelpful collection of personas with barely distinguishable differences.

The business case for smarter and more nuanced segmentation is clear.  A recent study published in McKinsey Quarterly found that 80 per cent of revenue growth from global brands could be attributed to decisions about where to compete, leaving 20 per cent attributed to how.  As any planner can probably attest, and as the authors say, this ratio is ‘the exact opposite of the allocation of time and effort in a typical strategy-development process’.

The authors encourage granular segmentation, adding, ‘think 30 to 50 segments rather than the more typical 5 or so.’ The onslaught of social media data presents businesses with the incredible opportunity to strive realistically for the 50 micro-segment approach  We’ve been exploring ways social media can advance persona as a segmentation tool that contributes to and guides the creative process.

Here are some areas we explore and key questions to begin the planning process.

How does the target demographic behave in social media?

What type of content do they consume?  Will they comment or engage?  Do they participate with branded content?  What are their expectations of social brands?

What platforms are the targets active on?  

What do they use personally?  Does this match their use of social with respect to the brand/product/issue?  What emerging platforms might these targets be interested in?

Where does social media disrupt the standard journey?  

How does social media impact them before, during and after they purchase or consider?  (Must understand customer journey to complete.)

Who influences the target in social media?

How do the targets start the digital leg of their journey?  What online sources do they rely on for information?  How trusting are they of online sources?  How developed is the relevant online affinity area/vertical in your market?

How will the target engage with the brand or branded content?

While the targets may be keen to engage personally in social, what can we expect them to do with a brand?  What do we need to do to ensure their interest, participation or word of mouth?