Wake up dwarfs. The evil queen has been collecting information for your persona and now she’s creating content to influence dwarfs just like you. How did she learn so much about your little home in the woods and your whistling while you work? Was it the mirror or the little birds who told her?
Actually, it was you. Your sleepy blog posts, doc TV comments, grumpy G+ rants, and bashful LinkedIn profile updates have been noticed.
Now, she knows what she needs to do to deliver the apple to Snow White.
Build Personas with the Help of Social Media
If you’re tasked with finding your brand’s personas, but your company can’t or won’t interview customers, social media can help. Look at internal data, identify key customers, and start searching for information via Google Plus, Bing, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube. If customers are talking about themselves online, it’s fair game for companies to use that information.
Ardath Albee, a B2B marketer, content strategist, and author of Up Close & Persona says,
“What you find is that some of the people you may be after actually write their own blogs, or they’ll divulge things about the job that they do that can really help you understand, not only orientation and objectives, but also some obstacles that could get in the way. You know, I mean the things people will share on social media are very important.
So, the three categories that I focus on with personas are objectives, orientation and then obstacles. Obstacles means what could derail the deal for that person or that persona. So, what could stop it in its tracks. And the reason why I really take a look at that is because if you can eliminate some of that stuff before sales gets in the conversation, it’s going to just keep momentum moving faster and shorten time to close for that account.”
With the information gathered, your marketing manager identifies the personas’ buying stages and the questions each persona typically asks before feeling comfortable moving from one stage to the next. Your content is crafted to meet each persona at each stage of the sales funnel to help transition a prospect into a customer. These various content pieces are then placed where prospects are likely to be on the journey, in order to move them toward purchases.
Personas Marching Into the Dark Forest of Social Media
Some SEO and social outreach companies create networks of personas (niche accounts) on major social media networks to connect, on behalf of their clients, with industry influencers and publishers. These networks distribute client content to customer influencers. Some SEO companies build niche blogs that are dedicated to hosting their persona guest posts. Guest articles, created by persona writers, regularly appear on these blogs with the sole purpose of linking to client websites, while looking pretty natural.
Megan Brown of iAcquire writes that a profile is:
- An authentic representation of the team member
- Focused on a certain audience in an organic way that does not.
- Owned by the SEO agency or client (up to you), not the team member
- Entertaining and interesting
- Serves as a place to focus on common ground to create stronger relationships with influencers and audiences
What it is/does NOT:
- Fraudulent, make-believe, deceptive
- A copy of the team member’s or someone else’s profile
- Containing words/phrases/photos that are not legally property of the client, SEO agency or team member personally
- A soapbox for a team member promote personal causes or interests
- A duplicate any of the content in any other personal or persona profiles that the team member may manage
However, let’s call a spade a spade. What exactly is an authentic representation of the team member? While each persona might match a segment of the team member’s personality, it exists for the sole purpose of moving client customers through sales funnels. These accounts wouldn’t exist without a monetary purpose behind them.
Brown’s earlier post says that this particular SEO company and its management team have,
had plenty of experience link building with personas… Every team member’s goal, no matter the vertical, is to establish his or her persona account as a thought leader or influencer in that vertical. This will have publishers or other influencers coming to you for content or ideas as well as enable you to drive action and sharing of content.
Be Snow White and wary of the gray. Google is after spam networks. You’re safe to create persona profiles and content for your target segments, but setting up many alternative accounts to distribute content might result in a hapless journey through the woods.