How to develop an online persona

Whether for your business or for your own personal professional purposes, developing an online persona is one of the first steps you’ll need to take on your digital marketing journey.

WHAT IS AN ONLINE PERSONA?

Your online persona is a social identity that you present via your online channels – to your target audience, on a social media account, through your blog or professional website. The world is now more connected via technology more than ever before so it’s important that people get ‘screen time’ with the best version of your brand!

If you’re looking to create an online persona for your brand, the best place to start is to envisage what your business would look, think, act and speak like if it were a person. This will help you engage with your audience in a more meaningful, human way (nobody wants to talk to a soulless robot) and give your business a recognisable online voice that people can come to rely on as a source of content that’s valuable to them.

Establishing an online persona can also help you align your digital marketing activity with your wider brand values and business goals, helping to attract new customers and establish your brand as an industry leader.

 

Wondering what the difference between branding and marketing is? Read our guide to understanding the difference between a brand and marketing strategy.

 

HOW DO I CREATE AN ONLINE PERSONA? 

Channels

Think about your target audience; who are they and which channels do they use? From there, you’ll be able to determine how you’re most likely to be able to reach them. This will help you establish which online channels you want to set up for your business and also help to inform how you’ll present yourself on each channel.

72% of people aged 13-17 use Instagram, but so do 40% of 30-49 year olds, so if you’re looking to reach a pre-university teenage audience to market your student accommodation brand, bear in mind that you might also be talking to their parents on the same channel, so you’ll need to consider how your brand resonates with them too, as they’ll probably have final say on their budding scholars’ housing choice!

So in this scenario, for example, you might want to consider ensuring your online persona is ‘reassuring, security conscious and reliable’ as well as ‘young, fun and trendy’, to appeal to both audiences. Check out this example from Downing Students, a campaign we helped devise to position them well on social.

 

Language and tone of voice

Establishing a consistent tone of voice is an important part of your online persona. It will help you to align your online activity with your wider brand values and ensure consistency with other offline marketing activity such as press, radio, printed materials, adverts etc. (Good for avoiding a ‘split personality’ effect!)

Using a consistent voice will also mean that your customers can return to your channels over and over again, safe in the knowledge that you’re a reliable source of humour, advice, facts, or reassurance.

Your online channels are also, more than ever, a platform for two-way conversation between brands and customers, rather than just a space to broadcast sales messaging. Customers want you to listen to them and help them achieve their goals!  So it’s important to consider the role your business plays for your customers and tailor your language and tone of voice to fit this role – humanising your business and opening the door for genuine engagement online.

In our work for LA Productions, we shared interesting snippets about staff and their day to day life. Providing a ‘face’ to the company really helped broaden their reach and engagement.

Writing, editing, showrunning… find out about the day to day role (as well as the 'squeaky bum' moments!) of Sarah…

Posted by L.A. Productions on Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Images and visuals

A picture is worth a thousand words, and is a very important piece of your online persona. Modern audiences have an attention span of less than 9 seconds, so you want to use the right visual content to draw people’s attention, but also to position your brand correctly and help people to remember you.

This applies to your branding and logos, as well as any photography, graphics and video content that you share on your channels.

It goes without saying that your visual content should be high quality and on-brand, but that doesn’t mean it has to be slick professional stock photography featuring America’s Next Top Models. In fact, more authentic images of your actual team and offices/location can help to establish a personal connection and build trust immediately with customers when they visit your online channels.

To develop a strong and memorable online persona, you want to keep a consistent visual brand identity across multiple channels, in the same way that you want to keep a consistent voice.  Creating and curating visual content in your own style on image and video-led social media channels such as Instagram and YouTube is great for this.

 

Check out the Instagram feed of CEL Solicitors. We created relevant, engaging and aesthetically cohesive content that makes looking at their feed a dream.

 

 

Content is king

The type content you share says a lot about you, so is another valuable string to your ‘persona bow’. Think about if the content you share is in line with your brand values? Is it relevant to your audiences? Does it add value to your customers’ lives?

Don’t just create content that sells your products and services… share content (your own and external) that helps educate, inform and delight! This will help your online channels become a trusted resource for your customers to return to for content that they find valuable, and position your brand positively in their minds, meaning they’ll be more likely to convert when you do come to sell to them.

Test images, graphics, link posts, videos and whatever else you can dream up to provide engaging content to your audience. When you find something that works, dig deeper to understand why and create your go-to formula for content that will always work.

 

HOW CAN WE HELP?

If you’re looking to establish an online persona for your brand, either from scratch or to revise and improve your existing guidelines, Influential offers a half-day Persona Workshop, delivered in either our office or your own.

We recommend that a cross-section of your team attend and take part in the workshop so that your brand persona is considered from every perspective. Our digital marketing team will be there to present and facilitate the workshop, as well as producing a persona document afterwards to act as guidelines for your communications team or agency.

Contact us via the form below to request more details on the workshop.

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