Does your online persona match reality?

Over the past few years, digital media has become part of our daily lives. We use it to connect with others, share personal stories and engage with brands. But, how does your online personality differ from your offline personality and how can brands align the two?

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 19 seconds

Who are you, really? Are you the person on Instagram, that loves to bake, or the person on Twitter that has a witty reply for everything? Or are you the person that makes major decisions in your company about software implementation? Chances are you are ALL of those people wrapped up in one complex bubble.

How our behaviour and choices change depending on the platform we’re engaging with seriously impacts how we market to people.

In inbound marketing, we use the concept of buyer personas to help us focus on who we target and how we talk to them across platforms. However, the concept of buyer personas can’t always take into account that our “persona” might change depending on how we want to appear in different spaces.

According to Huffpost, “As we know, perception is everything; especially in the world of social media. In terms of perception, we all have an ideal self. We all wish to maximise our careers, our profession, and aspire to be like those who we find most successful. As the use of social media continues to evolve; the concept of presenting our ideal selves versus our real selves has become more and more prevalent on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and even LinkedIn.”

In other words, marketers need to remember that we’re talking to two people in our marketing: the offline self and the online personality. Our offline self is who we are and what we genuinely like, no matter how embarrassing or politically incorrect. This includes our characteristics, attributes and traits. Our ideal self (on or offline), however, is how we would like to be seen by others and what we feel we should be, based on beliefs, values and societal influences.  For some people the real self is reflected in their offline behaviour while in others they extend this to their online personality. Either way, you need to appeal to both who a person is and who they would like to be.

This offers a significant challenge for marketers: how do you market to the person behind the mask?

Our buyer behaviour on social media can differ from our consumer buyer behaviour as people are more aware of what they share with others online. Although our online and offline personalities differ, our web search history, type of emails we send and our social media activities can contain traces of our offline personalities and brands need to understand the behaviour of our personas on these platforms. Similarly, our media preferences and what we purchase online can also point out elements of our personalities. Just think about the type of clothes you add to your Spree cart or the songs you listen to on iTunes - these all contain traces of our offline personalities.

In terms of inbound marketing, this means that though a fleet manager (for example) might be deeply interested in content on fleet management, they might not want to share it on all their personal social media platforms - and that doesn’t mean your content and marketing approach isn’t hitting the market.

Though we don’t have a perfect formula on how to create buyer personas that merge offline and online personalities, we have some ideas on how to start looking at the complexity. What’s your approach?.

1. Develop a social media buyer persona

Developing buyer personas for your brand is key for your inbound marketing efforts, but it’s also important to use social media insights to develop real relationships with real people. We already know that we need to do thorough research to develop buyer personas, but we need to ensure that we align our personas and content with the interests of our social media audience. Share content that’s relevant to their interests, location, age, and gender and think carefully about the format and type of content you publish on your platforms.

2. Build and nurture leads

Curate and tailor content relevant to your social media audience and start building trust. Get more leads by using Facebook Lookalike Audiences to target people sharing similar characteristics of your current customers.

3. Stay authentic

Stay true to your brand. You wouldn’t advertise clothing on an inbound marketing page, right? Instead of creating unrealistic versions of your brand, promote your best attributes.

Next time you create your buyer personas, think about how your brand is portrayed online and what you’d like to share with your audience.

Tip social persona

As a brand it’s important to understand your buyer persona’s so you can understand who they are online and where they will be. Download our Guide to Inbound Touchpoints to ensure you’re attracting leads wherever possible.

Download the Ultimate List of Inbound Touchpoints

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