Persona marketing is where a business creates a false personality for social media marketing. Some would view the use of false personalities as unethical, whilst others might see it as a form of focused marketing.
Persona marketing is a rather cutting edge technique for understanding your ideal customers. It’s incredibly involved and complicated, but can be boiled down to a few simple steps:
1. Identify a person of influence that already connects with your target market through social networking websites
2. Understand the kind of content these individuals share that gets the best response from their followers
3. Identify the personality traits of the person of influence
4. Combine the above data to create your own, fictional persona for marketing purposes.
This technique is highly effective and extremely controversial. It involves developing a fictional persona but presenting it as though it is a real person. Managing these personas is a very delicate process. For these reasons it is recommended that you stick to only one persona at a time while mastering the technique.
Where to Find Persons of Influence?
Any social networking or social media website will work. You’re looking for individuals that have large numbers of followers and frequent activity. The best sites are:
With each of these sites you want to find accounts that are frequently creating or introducing content that is liked and shared by large numbers of followers. It can be relatively simple on some sites, like Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram – each and every piece of content shows how many times it has been shared, even if you’re not a friend or subscriber of the original poster.
Facebook and Flickr are more difficult. You need to become friends with the person of influence in some way before you can find out what they’re sharing and why it’s getting so much interest. It’s also important that you do this so you can learn more about their unique traits – the things that give them the personality that they have.
Digging Deeper into Sample Personas
Once you’ve identified a person of influence you need to dig a bit deeper. Perform web searches on their name to see if you can find any other information, such as blogs they own and other social networking sites on which they’re active.
As you review all of these resources you need to gather information. Find out as much as you can about them. The more you know the easier it will be for you to create your new fictional persona.
Ideally you find and study three persons of influence before creating your own unique personality for marketing purposes.
What to do with your new marketing persona?
Now that you know exactly what kind of content your prospects find interesting and what kind of person is already sharing it successfully, you can begin to mimic their traits and content trends.
Create a character based on the information that you gathered while doing your research. Mix and match some aspects from each of the three or more individuals you studied. Give this person a name, history, hobbies, and anything else that will help present the image of having a well rounded personality.
From there you can create your social media accounts and begin gaining followers and subscribers.
Don’t promote your products or services too early in the process. You want them to feel that they’re interacting with a person that is absolutely genuine and interested in nothing more than sharing great finds on the web.
As you build a list of followers you can subtly introduce your products or services into the mix. This is the overall goal, after all. If your subscribers and followers are interested in what you’re sharing then they will find your product recommendations interesting, too. Don’t promote them, though. Mention them subtly and link to them. For instance you might post a Facebook status update that reads:
“Wow, I just got my new flip flops from The Hot Flip Flop Shop and they’re awesome!” That’s it. You can link to your site, but it might make more sense to leave it as plain text the first time you introduce it. A few days later you can add a second status that reads:
“Just got a second pair of flops from The Hot Flip Flop Shop because they’re running a sale, check it out… ” This is where you add your link. Don’t be surprised if the traffic comes pouring in.
Is This Ethical?
There’s still a lot of debate about persona marketing. Some feel that it’s unfair and deceptive. Others feel that there’s nothing wrong with it because people are already getting paid to promote products through popular blogs and social networking feeds. False reviews using persona marketing are looked down up e.g Amazon.
The dilemma only surrounds the fact that it is a fictional personality. You have to decide how you feel about this. One thing that’s certain, though, is that persona marketing provides an amazing and inexpensive opportunity to get your company’s name in front of people who are likely to buy what you’re selling.