Customer avatars turbo charge your social media efforts. They streamline your content creation process, make your marketing more consistent, and even improve your strategy’s focus. When all your efforts are rowing in the same direction, your strategy can drive massive results.
The difference between a few likes and becoming a massive social media success is just 5%.
You could simply publish a quick quote with an image, or you can create unique, high-quality content that your customers will go crazy for. But to do that, you need to understand what makes your customer tick. Things like where they spend their time, what social media channels they use, and what type of content they love to consume.
If you want to create better content, get more followers, and resonate with your customers, you’re going to love customer avatars.
Keep reading below to see the step-by-step approach I use for creating customer avatars that work. Download this template and by the end of this blog, you’ll have a custom avatar you can use to power your social media strategy.
What is a Customer Avatar?
A customer avatar is your representation of your ideal customer. Some people call it a “target market” or “buyer persona.” Whatever you call it, the main idea is that it’s an outline you create based on research and interviews with actual (or potential) customers.
Well crafted avatars help you create targeted content, answer important questions, and earn more sales. No matter the size or focus of your brand, having a customer avatar is key part of a successful social media strategy.
Most of all, it’s a written resource you’ll use to remind yourself what your customer needs and why you’re using social media in the first place.
By the end of this blog post, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:
- What type of content will most likely get a response from my audience?
- How does my ideal customer engage on social media?
- What problems do my customers need to solve?
- What kind of content buckets does my customer want to see?
- How often do I need to post on social media? And on what channels?
By the end of this post, you’re going to understand why they’re so important, what impact they have on your business, how to create them successfully, and how to use it for social media.
Why are Customer Avatars Important?
The process of creating a customer avatar is going tell you who your customer is, where they get their information, what common problems they have, who and where they go to for help, and how they make decisions.
This is why it’s a crucial first step for anyone who is serious about social media. No matter how large or small your brand is, it’s about getting the most out of your social media and growing your community, in the fastest period of time.
Without a customer avatar, it’s going to be harder for you to attract new leads and get them to buy what you’re selling. You might be leaving profits on the table. It’s also going to be harder for you to make decisions.
The time and effort you spend creating social media content will pay off much more when you have a customer avatar in mind.
Additional reasons to use customer avatars:
- Deep understanding: It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that what you think is great content is the same thing your audience believes. Creating a customer avatar leaves bias out of the equation and helps you get out of your own way and into your audience’s mindset.
- Focused content: Your content will focus on your message and what the customer needs. Focusing your social media will help you avoid missing opportunities and clouding your value. Customer avatars also ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page about your audience’s needs.
- Valuable feedback: Creating a strategy is largely a one-sided effort. You know everything you’re planning to do, but you don’t know what your customer thinks about it. The research you’re doing to build your customer avatar lets them give you feedback, making your strategy more effective.
How to Create a Customer Avatar
Creating a written document about who your customer is and what makes them tick is going to be huge for your social media channels.
Where do you start? The following chart will help you better understand your customers and give you version 1.0 of your customer avatar.
Once you create a customer avatar, I’ll tell you how to use it and give you an example of what a great one looks like.
This basic version is going to be a great start, but the best customer avatars go one step further. Remember the extra 5% I told you about at the beginning of this article? I’m going to tell you exactly how to create that best-in-class version of your customer avatar at the end of this blog post.
The basic version is going to incorporate the following elements:
- Age (range works best)
- Occupation (job title, industry)
- Education (degrees, certifications)
- Income (use online sources)
- Preferences (sources, communication style)
- Problems (challenges they face)
- Goals (aspirations, business goals)
Using these together will help you understand how you should be engaging with your audience. Answer the questions in the chart below and use your answers to fill in the template I gave you.
|Background||What is your customer’s background? Job title? Career path? Family? Culture? Education level?|
|Characteristics||What are the customer’s demographic traits? Male or female? Age? Income? Location?|
|Preferences||What are your customer’s preferences? Communication style? Sources? Content formats? Social media channels?|
|Goals||What are your customer’s goals and aspirations? Primary goal? Secondary goal? How are they evaluated?|
|Challenges||What are your customer’s challenges? (Primary challenge? Secondary challenge? Pain points? Rebuttals?|
How to Use a Customer Avatar
Now that you have a customer avatar, it’s time to start using it in your social media marketing, post copy, and the content you create.
Let’s review how to do that based on various social media goals.
Every post you create doesn’t have to cater to your customer avatar.
The magic of social media is figuring out that your ideal customer isn’t always your best customer, and your best customer may not have been on your radar. That’s progress. But that could mean that you need more than one avatar, and many brands do have 2-3 secondary customers.
Sometimes your content will reach multiple kinds of customers and others you’ll dig in deep to one person’s problems. This is the sign of a person who really understand social media.
Writing to customer avatars means focusing on how solve specific problem using the content types, channels, and communication style that resonates with them. If you’re having trouble coming up with post ideas, try using websites like Quora to figure out what your customers need help with.
One thing to take note of is that you want to make sure you appeal to their preferences. Using jargon with a customer that likes simple language or simplifying concepts to a highly technical person is the fastest way to lose a potential sale.
This goes right in line with content development, but there’s a few other things for you to consider.
A big part about thought leadership is how many times people are sharing your content, quoting you, and mentioning in round up pieces. When you create content, ask yourself: “Am I including things my audience would share on their channels? Are their quotable soundbites, interesting insights, great visuals, or anything else they would want their network to know about?”
If I have to give you one tip, it would be that great thought leadership is about making other people look smart, not you. Sure, you get the credit, but their benefit for sharing is that they have the latest information that drives value to their community.
Create content that’s shareable, quotable, and makes your customer look smart.
Avatars help you manage your community by using the values and communication preferences you identify for your customers.
If you’ve done your homework, you’ll also know which social media channels will best reach them when they have questions. The cool part about using avatars for customer service is that you can get feedback and see what’s working for your business and how you’re resonating in real-time.
Over time, you should start a spreadsheet with common questions your customers ask along with the type of responses that resonated best with them when you solved their problems. Always customize your reply to their situation, don’t just copy and paste messages. That used to work, but now customers complain when they get the same old reply that everyone else gets.
Personalized service is key for great customer service on social media.
Effective Customer Avatar Example
Here are a few things that are really working here.
- Persona Name: Many people use descriptive nicknames to give a human feel to their fictional representation. You can use these nicknames to help you focus on what you need to be doing: “Detailed Eduardo” or “High-Level Rob.”
- Demographics: This is especially useful for advertising, but also for taking into account the type of information they appreciate, the type of job responsibilities they have, and what their purchasing power is.
- Headshot: It may seem dumb, but having an image that’s representative of what your customer looks like is really important. You won’t talk to a senior person the same way you would an intern. It’s a reality that someone’s image will activate biases in your brain. Turn a bad things into a good by tricking your brain into getting into the right mindset to give customers the communication and service they deserve.
- Preferences: When you’re creating content, ask yourself what Detailed Eduardo wants to see on his social media channel of choice. If he goes to Twitter for commentary, take advantage of that. If he likes thought leadership on LinkedIn, meet him where he’s at. Bonus points if you find a way to connect what you’re doing on each channel. The more contact you have with your audience, the more trust you can earn.
How to Improve your Customer Avatar
I told you I would explain how you could create the best-in-class version of your customer avatar, and the way you do that is with research.
The following two-pronged approach will turn your basic avatar into a results machine for your social media channels.
Internal research: Analytics, Team, Vendors, Partners
Take a deeper look at any data you already have on your customers.
Where are your customers finding you? Who are they? What are they saying about your products? How long does it take for them to buy from the moment they find you up until you close the sale? How long are they spending on your content? Think of metrics like bounce rate and completion rate.
After you have some baseline information, dig deeper and start thinking about how you’ll have internal conversations with your team, vendors, and partners. Important topics to cover are pain points, goals, common issues, frequently asked questions, industry trends, and purchasing behaviors.
See below for questions to ask.
Sales and Customer Service.
Most people involved in sales or customer service interact with customers, which is great for getting insights around objections and complaints. They’ll know whether your greatest feature is as great as you think it is and why customers end up buying your product or service. If you handle this yourself, answer them.
- What type of customers do you typical talk to?
- Why do they make the purchase?
- What are they saying about us? Competitors?
- Why do they choose one over the other?
- What are the most common questions?
- What are the most common objectives?
- What usually makes or breaks the sale?
- How long do they take to decide?
- What information do they need to decide?
- What has been selling the best? What about worst?
Marketing and Analytics.
Your marketing partners, vendors, and ad representatives at social media channels know how your audience behaves. Like I mentioned in the last section, if you do this yourself, go through and answer these questions. Even if your sales happen offline, marketing will know how the lead came in if they happened online. Their insight will help you focus your social media efforts.
- How many people are coming from social, paid, referral, and organic?
- What pieces of content have the most social shares?
- What campaigns have been most successful? Why?
- What does successful content have in common?
- What is one area do you think we can improve?
- What is our competition succeeding at? What type of content is converting for them and why?
- What other influencers do they follow, how do they prefer to get content?
- What new trends are emerging that are effective? How could we use them?
Customer Research: Conversations and Feedback
Too many people rely on data to make business decisions. That’s great, but the problem with data-driven insights is that you don’t always have the context that a customer could provide you in a 3-minute conversation.
If you talk to 30 customers for 15 minutes each, you will learn more in seven hours than you ever will in a month’s worth of online research.
Asking questions that help you understand them makes them feel hear while making your content smarter. That’s a win-win.
What customers should I interview?
Talk to customers from different backgrounds, situations, locations, income levels, and if possible, industries.
If you have several different kinds of customers, don’t just choose one type of person. It’s a good idea to get an idea of the big picture and then choose who you listen to depending on the value of their insights.
Here are signs of great customers to interview:
- People who are loyal, long-time customers
- People who are early adopters
- People who decided not to buy
- People who bought from competitors
- People who chose you over competitors
How do I interview a customer?
Do your homework before getting on the phone with the client. Going into the call, you should have an idea of how you came across them, any communication you’ve had with them, and what they do and who they do it for.
Be transparent about what you’re trying to do and what the goals for the conversation are. Ask them open-ended questions vs. yes or no questions. Make them feel comfortable and don’t fill in any answers for them. If they don’t give you enough ammo, rather than make a suggestion try asking them to elaborate or give you an example.
Questions to ask:
- How did you find out about us?
- What are your main priorities?
- Where do you live?
- Why did you check out our brand?
- Do you follow us on social media? Why or why not?
- What are your favorite social media channels? How do you use them?
- What are some challenges you usually face?
- How do you solve these challenges?
- Can you give me an example of what success looks like?
- Who is responsible for making this decision? How many people?
- What were some other solutions that you considered?
- How do you research before making a sale?
- What were some objections you had?
- Where could we be better?
- Where do you think we bring the most value?
- What is the most frustrating part of your job?
- What is the worst customer experience you’ve ever had?
- What is the fastest way someone can make you angry? Happy?
- What do you worry about when it comes your job duties?
- What are three things on your professional bucket list?
- How do you like getting information?
By now, we can all agree on one thing: the more you know about customers, the easier it is to reach them. The benefits speak for themselves:
- More focused content
- Less work researching content topics
- Customize messages for specific people
- Attracts more customers
- Increases effectiveness
Whether you’re going for the basic avatar or the more advanced version, you should have a better idea of what kind of content you should be creating. Use it to guide what you publish and where you spent the most time on.
I’d love to hear from you about how you’re using customer avatars.
If you want to learn the step-by-step process we use to create strategies and leverage customer avatars to drive engagement for industry-leading clients, sign up for our upcoming Easy Social Strategy course.