This is Part 1 of a three-part series.
My name is James Scherer and I live in Vancouver, British Columbia. I work for Wishpond Technologies, enjoy recreational volleyball, ultimate frisbee and pub trivia on Tuesdays. I am originally from Seattle, Washington, and my parent’s names are John and Anna.
This article will discuss how doing what I’ve just done can benefit your business. I’ll introduce the importance of personality in online marketing — giving you a background as to why it’s important and define personality for both social and content marketing. I’ll also discuss how to maintain the delicate balance between professionalism and you in your sweatpants on a Sunday afternoon.
Why we need to get personal
We need to get personal because this whole marketing mess is getting harder. More people are engaging in social media and content marketing every day. Your competitors are blogging as much as you are. They’re posting similar things on social platforms and, maybe, just maybe, have hired a graphic designer right out of university named Jeremy who has dreadlocks and makes incredible infographics from scratch in 25 minutes.
So we need to up our game. We need to examine every best-practice we read or hear about and try it out for our businesses. Getting personal is one of those best practices. And here’s why it works:
Experts, CEOs and official spokespeople are no longer the most trusted people in your business. Instead, it’s the social media manager (the “company employee”). It’s you.
And this is a phenomenon that’s increasing every year:
If you’ll remember, 2009 was about when business really started to accept social media as a legitimate and successful marketing platform to communicate with people. As a result, people on those platforms started caring more about who they were talking to. They started trusting less the traditional sources of information like the CEOs, industry analysts and and governmental officials. They did this because across the board, authority figures in our society have become more publicly untrustworthy.
They also did this because around 2009 we started to focus more and more on peer reviews. Every online purchase you can imagine is now rated on a 5-star system, and nobody buys a T-shirt unless it has at least 4.1 stars on Amazon. Nobody reserves a hotel room unless Yelp, TripAdvisor, Expedia and Google all agree they should.
But “a person like yourself” and a “regular employee” are 17.5% more trusted on average than they were in 2009. What does this mean?
It means that in order to find success online, you need to be cultivating a persona of “someone like your target customer.” You need to change your online tone from authority figure to peer. Adding personality to content and social media is about adding trust to brand communication.
The more trust you develop with your possible customers, the more likely they are to buy from you. It’s as simple as that.
And yes, this is absolutely as true on social media platforms as it is in content creation. Even more so, as creating a brand persona on social also results in increased social endorsements, commenting and sharing. For more information about social media optimization, check out Part 4 of my series with SmartBlog on Social Media, “What to Expect in 2014.”
Adding personality to content and social media is about greasing your sales funnel with an oil of credibility.
Defining personal for social media
Let me be clear before we get started. Effectively becoming a more personal online brand is not necessarily about telling people your name, address and favorite color.
Brand personality has to be part of brand strategy. Your personality (or your persona, if you’d prefer) has to fit into your brand’s marketing story and cohere with your target market. So brand personality is dependent on your brand’s market. Consider it like this:
When talking to your fiancee’s parents would you have the same personality you do on a Friday night out with your friends?
No. Your shirt is buttoned up higher. You laugh at jokes that aren’t particularly funny (you make jokes that aren’t particularly funny). You cuss less, drink less, use bigger words and are generally an all-around better person. It’s up to your business to define if your brand persona is similar to that of a buttoned-up professional, talking to their future in-laws or a buttoned-down millennial who’s had a couple drinks and feels like singing the “Frozen” soundtrack.
Or somewhere in between.
Defining personal For content marketing
Guest-posting is a fascinating experience for content marketers. I’ve written for both the Content Marketing Institute and Technorati, for SME and Problogger. And each one of these sites require a different writing style from the others. Some editors will take your personality out of your content entirely. Some will add a personality you haven’t asked for.
But when writing for your own blog, your writing persona should match that of your brand. Wishpond targets its products at small and medium-sized business owners, and focuses its software around making complex online marketing strategies simple and straightforward.
My articles for Wishpond, therefore, reflect not only this audience but this tone. I write with empathy, as I’ve been there in the past — confused by a thousand different marketing strategies and wondering which ones will work and which will waste money I don’t have.
Your content creating persona should reflect your business’ market as much as your social media persona does.
5 questions to help you determine your marketing persona
- Can you assume a level of knowledge? Or will jargon limit your possible audience?
- Have you found success with a certain tone or persona previously? (e.g. In your marketing emails?)
- Is there something about your business that lends itself to a certain persona? (e.g. sporty, nerdy, hip, young, old, data-driven, etc.)
- Is there something about you as a content creator that you think would work well with an online persona? (e.g. Are you an overwhelmed mother who can commiserate with your audience? Are you an older marketer making it simple for people your age to find success? etc.)
- Would your target audience respond better to humor or professionalism? Are you sure? (You might be surprised by the answer to this!)
Hopefully I’ve intrigued you enough to start thinking about adding personality to your own online marketing strategy. This series will continue next week with “3 strategies that put personality into content” and the week after with “3 strategies that put personality into social media.” So stay tuned for those.
Have you already considered ways to develop your online brand persona? Are you utilizing one now? Start the conversation below!
James Scherer is a content marketer for Wishpond and author of the ebook The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads. Wishpond makes it easy to run Facebook Ads, create landing pages & contests, email automation campaigns & manage all of your business’ contacts.