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How to Create Social Media Buyer Personas (and Get More Engagement)

Elise Dopson
Nov 29, 2020 4:45:00 PM

You’ve built an audience of potential customers for your brand.

But if you’re struggling to get them to convert, you’re not the only one. Research shows that conversion rates of visitors referred by social media are one of the lowest of all channels.

There’s a good chance this is happening because you don’t really understand your social media followers. It’s easy to fall into the trap of posting content you think your audience are interested in...but really aren’t.

A social media persona can solve that issue.

In this guide, we’ll share the six data sources you can use to create your own social media personas, including:

  1. Native social analytics features
  2. Professional audience insights tools
  3. Google Analytics
  4. Customer surveys
  5. Sales and support team feedback
  6. Historical revenue

Ready? Let’s dive in.

The difference between an 'audience profile of my followers in a social channel' vs. 'creating buyer personas with social data'

Chances are, you already have audience profiles that tell you what your social media followers look like on each channel.

But as a marketer (whose time is precious), it doesn’t make sense to have a different social media persona for each channel. You simply want to know what your target customer looks like so you can create campaigns to find them.

That doesn’t mean you can’t adapt your buyer personas when you’re using them on social media. In fact, it’ll help you be more effective in the last mile of your marketing campaign when relying on tactics like:

  • Prioritizing some personas in a channel (like foodies on Instagram)
  • Choosing different social media formats that cater better that particular channel (such as Instagram Reels or Facebook Live videos)
  • Posting preferred content to each platform (like memes on Facebook)

What is a social media persona?

Wondering what a social media persona is? Here’s a definition:

A social media persona is a fictional profile of your target customer, based on data you’ve collected from social media. You can have 2-5 different personas, each being a deep dive into what that type of person looks like.

This includes key qualities and demographics they share, such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Living situation
  • Hobbies
  • Job title
  • Influencers they follow
  • Hashtags they engage with
  • Personality
  • Active social media channels
  • Preferred content types
  • Goals and motivations
  • Fears and pain points
  • Buying triggers

Each of these marketing personas should be a model of your ideal customer. It should be a potential customer who’ll engage with your content, and buy products from you after viewing it on social media.

A social media-driven persona example

We’ve already mentioned that they should look like a real person, and take the shape of an ideal customer.

Here’s a social media persona example to show this in context:

  • Age: 24
  • Gender: Female
  • Location: California
  • Living situation: Renting an apartment with a friend
  • Hobbies: Walking dog, hanging out with friends, eating at restaurants, following fashion
  • Job title: Retail assistant
  • Influencers they follow: @stylishcurves, @lilylikecom, @desiperkins
  • Hashtags they engage with: #style, #fashion, #OOTD
  • Personality: Outgoing, ambitious, fashionable
  • Active social media channels: Instagram, YouTube
  • Preferred content types: Instagram Reels, YouTube videos, Instagram Story polls
  • Goals and motivations: Grow her own Instagram account, become a fashion influencer, and eventually open her own fashion store in LA
  • Fears and pain points: She can’t afford high-quality clothing because her job doesn’t pay well, and she’s paying rent in an expensive part of town
  • Buying triggers: Seeing friends or influencers with fashion items she doesn’t have

The different types of social media personas

The example above is a generic persona that a marketing team might use to plan their social media strategy. It gives them in-depth detail about the person they’re trying to target.

However, you need to adapt your social media buyer persona to the content and creative tools available. That way, you’ll create content that resonates in each particular channel you put the persona to work.

You’ll need to spend some time digging into the goals and features for each social platform you’re using. There are a few discrepancies between each, such as:

  • Instagram users might follow influencers that aren’t on Twitter
  • Facebook users’ goal for that platform might be to connect in Facebook Groups; a feature that other platforms don’t have
  • Facebook users engage with ad campaigns more than Twitter users
  • LinkedIn users tend to be more professionally-focused than Instagram users

Each of these things impact your strategy for that platform. By referencing those smaller details with individual personas for each social network, you can really maximize the value you’ll get from your persona research.

Why bother creating social media personas?

Now we know what a social media persona is, you might be left with one question: do I really need one?

The answer is simple: yes.

Every business with a social media marketing strategy needs to know who they’re targeting. Once you know that, you’ll be able to use your personas to:

Improve engagement with personalized content

You can’t create content your audience will engage with if they’re not interested in it. So, it makes sense that your social personas have a huge impact on your content marketing strategy not just for social media, but other channels, too.

Research shows that 72% of consumers will only engage with personalized content. You can create engaging social posts using the data from each persona—including their interests, likes and dislikes, goals, challenges, and pain points.

For example: if your audience has an interest in fashion, post about that regularly on Facebook. If they engage with influencers on Instagram, repost their content to your feed (or take it a step further and run influencer partnerships with them.)

The more likely you are to post social media content your followers are actually interested in, the higher your chances of boosting organic engagement rates across the board.

Run social ads with high ROI

The best ads are highly-targeted and solve problems.

Take this one by ClassPass, for example. It uses their audience’s pain point (not being able to find a fitness membership that includes the classes they’ll actually use) as the basis of their Facebook Ad:

Audiense blog - How to create social media buyer personas

The main component of your social media persona research is common problems your audience suffers with. Point that problem out loud and clear—then position your product or service as the solution.

You can then use complex social advertising platforms (like Facebook) to target your persona using their age, gender, location, or interest. You’ll deliver the right message to the right person, and convince them to take action.

Find social content to curate and repost

Not all content you post on social media needs to be created from scratch.

Data shows 55% of marketers only have small teams for developing their own content. They don’t always have time (or budget) to invest into creating their own, original social media content.

Curation saves time and resources by taking content from elsewhere and reposting it to your profile (with credit). This tweet from Carrie Rose, for example, was formed off the back of another brand’s PR campaign:


But you can’t curate content effectively without knowing your audience. You’ll use your persona to figure out which profiles to repost from, the influencers to track, and hashtags to monitor for content ideas.

How to create social media buyer personas

Are you ready to create social media personas that help you improve engagement, run high-performing ads, and find content to curate?

Here are the six steps of social media persona development to help master your own:

1. Look at existing social media data

The first step to creating social personas is to do some research on the channels you’re already using.

Some channels have their own insights platform:

Audiense blog - How to create social media buyer personas

Each shares snippets of information about your current social media followers.

Start digging through each native analytics tool looking for themes. You’ll want to jot down the qualities your existing audience have.

Bear in mind that these may differ from platform to platform: the same type of person following your Twitter profile might be different than a typical Instagram follower. That’s why your goal is to look for common denominators—the things people have in common across the board.

Do most of your social media users live in the US? Are the majority female? All of this data is valuable information to include in your persona notes.

2. Use a professional audience insights tool

Unfortunately, native social analytics tools can’t always give the information you need to create a fully fleshed-out social media persona.

The good news? Professional insights tools (like Audiense Insights) are a step above each platform’s own analytics tool. They pull data from your own audience on each platform and analyze it altogether.

You’ll also see new insights when using a professional research tool, such as their:

  • Brand or celebrity interests
  • Education levels
  • TV shows they watch
  • Places and events they’re interested in
  • Relationship status
  • Personality traits
  • Advanced demographics
  • Purchase influences

Each is broken down into a report so you can dive deeper into your audience:

Audiense blog - How to create social media buyer personas

With Audiense, common data points are pulled together to create a new segment. This acts like a mini persona you can combine with other research notes from each social network—the perfect foundation for creating multiple personas.

Audiense blog - How to create social media buyer personas

3. Dive into Google Analytics

By this stage, we know what our current social media followers look like.

But we want to create personas of real people who follow us on social media and then head to the website to make a purchase. The simplest way to do this is by diving into historical website data.

Create a custom segment inside Google Analytics. Then, under the Traffic Sources tab, you’ll be able to filter your data by people who arrived from social media.

Make sure you set the source to the platforms you’re using—like “twitter” or “facebook”.

Audiense blog - How to create social media buyer personas

You can then view all of your Google Analytics reports specifically for people who’ve arrived on your website from that social media channel.

Again, the key here is to look for patterns:

  • Which referral channel brings the most customers?
  • Which has the highest conversion rate?
  • What pages do people land on most often when they come from social media?
  • What day of the week do you get most of your social traffic?

Let’s put that into practice and say you find that Twitter brings the most referral traffic, but Facebook has the highest conversion rate. It makes sense to focus your social media strategy on Facebook and create in-depth personas for that platform. It’s where you have the biggest chance of turning social visitors into paying customers.

Similarly, if you see that you get most of your social media traffic on a Wednesday, write that down in your social persona document. You can then arrange your social media calendar to post when they’re most likely to see it.

4. Run customer surveys

Customer surveys are a great source of information to dig deeper into your customers.

(Remember: we want our social media personas to be based on people who will actually go to your website and convert. So, looking at previous customer data is essential to understand how to do that.)

You likely already have short surveys in your purchase confirmation emails. Simply tweak that survey to ask questions like:

  • What type of content do you prefer to see? (Memes, polls, photos, videos, etc)
  • What encourages you to follow a brand on social media?
  • What makes you unfollow one?

These feedback surveys are a great opportunity to get qualitative feedback. You can see the messaging they’re most likely to engage with, and the types of content that nudged them towards converting.

That’s gold dust for your social media personas. You can replicate the same experience and content strategy to find and convert new customers.

5. Ask sales and support teams

Nobody knows your customers better than sales and support teams.

They’re people who talk with your potential and existing customer base day-in, day-out. So, it makes sense to get their input on your social media personas. They might have insights that you couldn’t find through other methods of research.

For example, sales and support teams might unveil that people who come through one platform have different traits than those from another. That could be something like:

  • Longer sales cycles
  • More people involved in the decision-making process

Again, this is superb data to populate your social media personas with. Knowing the differences between customers arriving from multiple platforms helps craft a strategy for each; one that convinces a follower to become a lead.

The best part? A solid understanding of what sales teams consider a lead can help social media teams find people who look like them. It’ll improve your MQL to SQL conversion rate from the (albeit poor) benchmark of just 13%.

6. Look at historical revenue data

It’s worth reminding ourselves that the baseline goal of any digital marketing campaign is to make money.

That’s no different with social media. We want to make sure that the people we’re getting to follow and engage with our business’ profiles will go on purchase from you. That’s why the final stage in audience persona research is to look at historical sales data.

Dive into your purchase history and answer these questions:

  • What’s the average order value for a person referred by each social media platform?
  • Which platform do most of your paying customers find you through?
  • Which social referral channel has the highest customer lifetime value?

Think about this when creating personas and deciding which platforms to prioritize with both organic and paid content. It’s smart to focus on the platform that’s proven to get the best results.

(You can always progress to other, lesser-used platforms when you master the most popular.)

Get started with Audiense

Ready to start creating social media personas that help boost engagement, nail your content strategy, and turn followers into customers?

Grab a free trial of Audiense to start lifting the lid on what your audience looks like. It’s the best way to start understanding who your followers are, and what makes them tick.

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