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Creating personas for audience research in social media

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Creating personas is a resource used by companies seeking to communicate with their public in a manner consistent with personality, tone and defined characteristics, without confusing the public with different styles with each new message.

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Creating personas for audience research in social media

  1. 1. CREATING PERSONAS FOR AUDIENCE RESEARCH IN SOCIAL MEDIA
  2. 2. CREATING PERSONAS FOR RESEARCH REPORTS IN SOCIAL MEDIA Yuri Amaral Illustrator and comic artist / co-founder of Coelho Jujube / Master (UNILA)) Tarcízio Silva Communication Research Director at IBPAD / Master (UFBA) and PhD student (UMESP) Personas and Public in Social Media1 Creating personas is a resource used by companies seeking to communicate with their public in a manner consistent with personality, tone and defined characteristics, without confusing the public with different styles with each new message. Characteristics of contemporary internet like plentiful data, self disclosure and searching capacities created many opportunities to monitor and analyze people more profoundly, especially in social media. In this new reality, we can identify multiple attitudinal profiles, in the same public, through this information Often personas are part of everyday advertising because they are created in a campaign-planning environment, from ideation and simplification of observed behaviours. Here we propose the use of social media data from monitoring to generate personas that communicate research findings more efficiently. The demographic characteristics of the public have always been the most practical, rapid and standardized framework for understanding a segment or direct actions of a brand. Age, gender, location and economic class are shortcuts to understand other types of buying behaviour, attitudes, opinions and public policies. 1 With previous information published in the article “Segmentação de Público no Monitoramento de Mídias Sociais” (SILVA, 2014a)
  3. 3. Most societies still define expectations, specific problems and opportunities related to ideas of gender roles for men and women. In a specific cultural context, it comes to the point where there are product lines targeting specific genres, but it is something increasingly challenged, as shown by research and trends (JWT, 2015). As for location, country, state and city, these are largely related to cultural, economic and behavioural issues. To say that someone is Brazilian, Italian or Japanese, already brings up an abstract mental persona. The location of the user tells us things with accuracy variants about their economic condition, patterns of cultural activities, clothing, eating patterns and the type of product consumed. In some cases, the location is a unique factor in marketing: a product or service is only distributed in certain markets, even though it can be nationally well known. Social media allows observation of people in diverse and multifaceted features and differences, even if they have some consumption behaviour in common. Thus, it is possible to identify different profiles in a certain segment of the public, in order to understand their behaviour, tracing strategies focused on these groups and individuals. How to discover the online public? To define the public has always been a challenge; however, with social media monitoring tools it is possible to collect data consistent with what we think is the public for a particular product or service. Ideally, is to be able to understand the explicit consumer public (engaged users that mention the brand and products) and the target public that, supposedly, is not yet a consumer. By monitoring social media, it is possible to map this public. There are several ways to collect relevant samples of people online, among them:  Select from a known base of engaged users (monitoring keywords): through keywords that refer to the product / service in question, you can identify users that mention, interact and talk about the topic, and note the frequency they do it and which feeling is involved in their speech;
  4. 4.  Select by self-description (profession, preferences, fandom, etc.): When in their profile, the users identify themselves with a certain behaviour / attitude. For example, when they mention in their Twitter profile being a fan of a band or following a specific political ideology;  Select regulars from one location (geolocation): through check-ins and photos with markup, for example, finding the public that frequents a local place – shopping mall, cafeteria, district, stadium, festival etc;  Select by crossing with another database (expensive and not always available): when the brand develops specific applications and actions using the user profile data in a social media as basic requirement for access to what the application offers;  Proximity by Homophily2 : this is a viable solution to find the target public that does not consume a particular product / service but relates to those who do, and therefore, can be considered a potential public. Through frequent and reciprocal connections, it is possible to discover the consumer networks previously identified. Through selected data collection we obtained a series of our own information monitoring the public on social media – what they say, with what feeling and frequency they say it, with whom and where they interact, what needs to be filtered and analyzed, contributing to understanding the public on various levels. Gather the commonalities of these data helps in building personas, summarizing them not just in numbers but also in images. On Attitudes, Interests and Opinions to Insights Carry out social media monitoring focused on users is possible on some platforms like Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, blogs and Tumblr. In general, the following steps can be followed to survey data on the public of a company, brand or theme in social media: 2 . Principle by which people tend to connect with other similar people in sociodemographic characteristics, behavioral or intrapersonal
  5. 5.  Monitor by Keywords: collecting traditional data on social media allows monitoring of users engaged in a particular subject or company. Almost all monitoring tools quantify these terms and offer a list of interacting users;  Select Users sample: from a sample based on who mentioned the brand, choose a relevant number of profiles / channels and start analyzing its components in detail to identify the most recurrent profiles;  Monitor users: determine a period, to observe users who make up the sample, in order to observe their behaviour and identify which match a brand / topic / research target (see Silva, 2014b);  Development of analysis categories and establishment of rules for tagging: from the interest topics list of (Brands, Music, Artists, Influencers, Media channels, Sports, Activities, Training etc.);  Define personas: identify commonalities in the analyzed profiles, making ideal types from possible profiles of the studied public.  Illustrate personas: translate information and discoveries identified on drawings that accompany the data, information and insights about the public. At this point of analysis focused on public profiles, demographic targeting is complementary, not the focus. With globalization, emergence of niche cultures and choice range, individuals no longer carry the same categories throughout their lives (such as religion, region, gender and nationality), but are in a constant process of change. Other variables must be added to the analysis, a more individual and behavioural perspective based on Life Styles, adding data on Activities, Interests and Opinions (PLUMMER, 1974). By analyzing these data, we can see deeper into the subjects’ behaviour and get better results. Activities Interests Opinions Demographics Work Family Themselves Age Hobbies Home Social issues Education Social Events Job Politics Income Vacation Community Business Occupation Entertainment Recreation Economics Family Size Club membership Fashion Education Dwelling Community Food Products Geography Shopping Media Future City size Sports Achievements Cultue Stage in life cycle
  6. 6. We can use as a reference the amount of Activities which a subject can devote themselves to, like social causes (feminism, LGBT, ethnic minorities), cultures (musical niches, gastronomy) and even consumption (fans of a particular brand) that directly influence their buying decision. However, Interests can come from thematic, consumer, professional area or even family relationships. Mothers and fathers may eventually connect more with child related images. A professional musician will probably pay more attention to melodies and how they connect to peoples’ reality. Finally, peoples’ Opinions can reflect several layers of society. A vegan has a strong ideological position enough to organize boycotts of big brands and directly influence the cosmetics market, for example. Any category, including those suggested here, do not serve to close the subject in unchangeable characteristics, but rather to guide the creative process and analysis of public profiles. Understanding the patterns and behavioural consequences not only contributes to persona construction that summarizes the identified public, but also develop focused strategies and actions in a closer reality picture. Next, we will comment on the persona construction process. Materializing Insights on Personas and Characters Characters are present in every story told by a hypothetical transmitter, be it a cinematic epic journey, like in the trilogy Lord of the Rings, where world salvation depends on a frail and seemingly helpless character, or in a margarine commercial, where we find a family preparing for another normal day. Even in a post on a social media site, there is a character, an action to make and a goal to be achieved. The viewer enters in this gap of "to do” appropriates the journey, and in an empathic process puts him in the character’s place and lives these sensations on different levels of intensity. Understanding public behaviour is, in other words, to understand what exactly it identifies with and how this is expressed in actions, from the most complex, such as an opinion on a certain political event to the more mundane, like a profile photo detail. The art of storytelling accompanies humanity since its beginning, often focused on translating the mysteries of life through mythological and extraordinary characters, far removed from those of ordinary people. To delve into this subject, we recommend reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces by
  7. 7. Joseph Campbell, and Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung. Although the first focuses on actual mythology and the second on symbolism and its relations with the psyche, both draw a parallel between stories of the divine and human behaviour, revealing their qualities and subjective characteristics. At some point in history, human characters started playing the role of discoveries and salvation in the most diverse beliefs, reflecting characteristics and behaviours precisely common, but in a fabulous environment, away from ordinary routine. The entertainment industry and advertising constantly resort to social dynamics and narrative structures originated in mythology. What is common in all these stories - regardless of background, culture, mythology - are characters that with their personalities have (moral and ethical) values, together with a well- constructed image (their aesthetic) and make it possible for the public to identify with them. A narrative progresses through the character, which triggers action and transforms, and affects their environment, translating feelings. This process can generate empathy in viewers, who can connect to the character and also put themselves in the character’s skin and when they return to reality, resignify their own environment. In a reverse way, creating personas comes from observation of the trajectory of real people and their common characteristics and add this to the spirit of the brand. Thus, using the results and insights gathered through monitoring and analysis it is possible, from the commonalities of public profiles, to materialize them into personas and later illustrated characters. Personas: From Data to the Illustrations In Communication, persona is literally a hybrid of a public representative sample of a given profile, used both to assist in understanding public profiles and constructing actions that come from the brand to the people. To create them we need to observe patterns and contrasts of the targeted public and / or already established, from ways of dressing to word use, slang and everyday expressions, chiselling these identified characteristics and incorporating them into personas that reflect the various established profiles.
  8. 8. To make sense, the persona must be built in a multifaceted way, with complementary resources and skills of a well-constructed team. Without the sample analyzed by an analyst and the collected references, the illustrator will not be able to follow a path and his illustration runs the danger of becoming obsolete. Just like the opposite way, the illustrator must be open to criticism, be flexible in constructing the persona image and be aware of all the features raised by the monitoring and analysis team. Below is an example (adapted and anonymized) of personas Illustration building process in three different contexts. So let us go systematically: assuming that three personas, identified by the analyst team, are recognized just like the following images, how do we turn them into illustration? Exemple 1 – Providers Guests Context: hotel chain guest study One study looked at two years of mention records of six hotel brands from the same network. Eight audience segments were separated and the Guest segment was divided into 7 personas, according to behaviours expressed in social media. One was the persona "Guests Providers": Example 2 – Traditional Context: scotch consumer study The case below, in turn, is a persona in a consumer report on a Scotch brand. These users, with high purchasing power, but hard to find due to a more cautious use of social media:
  9. 9. Exemple 3 - Influencers Plus Size3 In the example below, the study seeks to represent preferences - of consumption, musical, artistic, media – from a sample of 100 plus size bloggers on Facebook. The persona illustration sought to represent this segment of content producers. Next, we will show, from the given examples, the process of creating the persona of the illustration. To build this image we need to carefully observe the references sent by the team of analysts, gathering preferences, attitudinal and behavioural traits, with the main common visual elements of the examples 3 Learn more about the Study of Fashion and Beauty Plus Size on Facebook: <http://blog.ibpad.com.br/index.php/tag/plus-size/>
  10. 10. following the illustration style requested (realistic, cartoon, flat, etc.). Thus, we have the following script: 1) To analyze the images and features raised by the analyst: as well as textually identifiable themes such as interests, attitudes and opinions, we should observe colour, hair, clothes, accessories, gestures, looks and poses. What is most characteristic must be incorporated into the design. The illustrator’s first contact with information is usually a slide as shown above, with the data already organized into a named persona. They have to repair not only the images but also the text and data, as it will reveal the subjectivities of the persona. Example 1 The responsibility trait is emphasized by behavioural analysis, based on data analyzed by the monitoring team. The family as a motivator of imagined actions and audience is present in the analysis, supported by subject classification (in other report slides). Key behavioural traits were correlated with the defining characteristics of the group (travel provider to spouses and family). In this case, it would be wise to propose the illustration of a smiling woman, around 30 years old, using sober clothes, namely: jeans, T-shirt or shirt, with
  11. 11. colours not very saturated or too strong. Here we recommend pants, not because of their symbolic force, as wearing pants was once part of their struggle for equality, today there is still a cultural attachment to the concept of formality and practicality. Example 2 Example 2, in turn, brings a very different public from the first example, beginning with the title, much clearer and specific. Professional ethos dominates this persona, which relates to the product due to its symbolism linked to specific conceptions of tradition and power. In the pictures, we see only white men with serious expressions, mostly wearing a suit. We also identified the low number of publications in social media, linked to elements and themes of seriousness in impression management. The represented characteristics could not be different, but in this case it is designed in a more distant trace of the cartoon, with fine contours and less saturated colours.
  12. 12. Example 3 In the case of Example 3, the predominant features in most plus size influencers were the marked waist, strong color lipstick, accessories (earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets), in white women, hair with lights and in black women, black power hair. As this persona adds a struggle of political characteristics and resistance, such as the search for representation in mainstream media and in fashion, the suggestion of the illustration is a black and empowered woman as some of the plus size US and Brazilian major bloggers were identified in the study. 2) Drafting the commonalities and define ways forward: exchange drafts between the illustrator and the analysis team, monitoring for due consideration, mainly to see if the design is becoming what the team envisioned: where to look, how to move the hand, the clothes’ color, the skin color. The pose is also important: Is he still? Is he walking? Is he accompanied? In addition, and important to mention, he is always looking at the report reader.
  13. 13. In Example 1 - Guest Provider, the most obvious elements were incorporated into the persona of the design, like the open smile and the relaxed pose. Making notes next to the draft with arrows to identify these things can assist the monitoring team to better understand the design intent, so do not economize the annotations and notes! In Example 2 – Tradition was needed to draw a picture that evoked all the seriousness transmitted by a lawyer with more serious and straight lines. In this case, instead of illustrating the character looking at the viewer, his determined look is drawn looking the other way helping to convey his strong personality.
  14. 14. For Example 3 - Plus Size, marked curves and a smooth pose were chosen to define the shapes of the body in contrast to the waist. 3) Finalize and implement the design: to define the draft, finalize the design with colors, shadows and highlights to add volume and a good finish. Important: saving to file with the best definition and transparent background helps team members who do not work with editing tools. It also helps with the background type, where to apply the character and to avoid confused slides and information overload.
  15. 15. Often, the result may seem "simple", but it is not just a design, but rather an illustration that is the result of extensive research, with a solid background, mapped and rich in relevant information. The persona of the illustration will help materialize and fix in the customers' mind monitoring reports, research and discoveries. Report screen example with data linked to the persona Each drawing, with their sharp features, represents a different public profile in their contexts, accompanied by a fact sheet (mean age, tastes, genres, activities, interests, among other categories) it can summarize behavior patterns and help develop strategies for the brand as it is now possible to know with whom and for whom one is speaking.
  16. 16. Report screen example with data linked to the persona From the references up to the final work, we observed that the developed persona is a reality, representing a public profile, bringing together the main characteristics and commonalities in order to maximize results. We cannot see these personas as absolute and immutable, they are constantly changing and need to be re-evaluated with a certain frequency. Report cover example with persona illustration Monitor and analyze people by social media is an effective way to map the public. The paths presented here to interpret these data were intended to narrate the building of personas from public profiles identified for monitoring. Generally, monitoring takes the findings of the brands’ public, and we have proposed paths that materialize these findings, but do not necessarily mean that these discoveries will reach the public. Therefore, we understand that the
  17. 17. creation of personas and characters aims to translate public profiles, but they can also serve as a creative input for strategies and actions for the brand. Referencies CAMPBELL, Joseph. O Herói de Mil Faces. São Paulo: Pensamento, 1989. JUNG, Carl G. et al. O homem e seus símbolos. Rio de Janeiro: Nova fronteira, 1964. JWT INTELLIGENCE. Gendered products face growing backslah. Disponível em: https://www.jwtintelligence.com/2015/12/gendered-products-face-growing-backlash/ PLUMMER, Joseph T. The concept and application of life style segmentation. the Journal of Marketing, p. 33-37, 1974. SILVA, Tarcízio. Segmentação de Público no Monitoramento de Mídias Sociais: demografia, psicografia e inovações para entender o público nas mídias sociais. Online, 2014a. http://pt.slideshare.net/tarushijio/segmentacao-de-publico-no-monitoramento-de-midias- sociais-45425152 SILVA, Tarcízio. Como Criar categorias e tags no monitoramento de mídias sociais. Online, 2014b. Disponível em http://pt.slideshare.net/tarushijio/como-criar-categorias-e-tags-no- monitoramento-de-mdias-sociais How to cite SILVA, Tarcízio; AMARAL, Yuri. Creating Personas for Research reports in social media Instituto Brasileiro de Pesquisa e Análise de Dados. Online, 2016. Available in: http://blog.ibpad.com.br
  18. 18. ABOUT IBPAD The Brazilian Institute of Research and Data Analysis is a center of knowledge in the areas of Research and Public Opinion, Digital Policy and Government Relations and Communication. The focus of the Institute is the development, application and teaching techniques and data analysis methodologies with solid scientific training. RELATED TEXTS  What kind of groups can I study with ethnography in social media?  Photo in Social Medias as an etnographic resource  Capillary Transition and Empowerment in Social Media  Monitoring: tracking campaign performance is just the iceberg top  Generating More Business with Monitoring Reports  The underused potential of social media monitoring RELATED COURSES  Etnography for Social Media (with professor Débora Zanini)  Monitoring of Social Media (with professors Tarcízio Silva and Wesley Muniz)  Data analysis and B.I. for Planners (with professor Daniele Rodrigues and guests)  Diversity and Data in Social Media (with professors Fernanda Alves and Maíra Berutti)  Network Analysis for Social Media (with professors Max Stabile and Tarcízio Silva)

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