I attended the Turing Festival a few weeks ago and have been blogging about how I'm applying what I learned into developing GoodHQ.

Today, the focus is on creating personas and how to use their personality traits to write great content.

So, what’s a persona?

A persona is a fictional person who embodies your typical or ideal customer(s). You can create as few or as many as you like. Most organisations choose between four and six.

Start by deciding on your key audience groups, then create a fictitious person for each group, including their name, age, etc. Personas can help you think about how you speak to these potential customers, and what might motivate them to engage with you.

How should you go about creating personas?

Bring together key people in your organisation and start thinking about your typical customers. What’s their age range, their likes and dislikes?

You can also use existing data from Facebook, Google and Twitter insights to understand who is already engaging with you.

Once you’ve started to build up a clear picture of your existing and ideal customers you can begin creating your personas. Start with a range of questions to answer about each person, these might include:

  • Who are they? What’s their age, job, interests etc.
  • What’s their goal if they engage with your brand?
  • What challenges might they experience in engaging with your brand?
  • What impact will this person’s engagement have on your organisation?

The Big Five

Now that you’ve got your personas, it’s time to start thinking about their personality traits. In case you’re not familiar with the ‘big five’, I’ve summarised them below. When thinking about each persona, consider where on a scale of one to five they would rank for each trait.

  • Extraversion– an extravert is someone who is confident, sensation seeking and social. In comparison, someone who is an introvert is likely to be more reserved in social situations, thoughtful and fantasy prone.
  • Agreeableness– someone who is trusting, kind, compromising and affectionate. In comparison someone with low agreeableness is more likely to be competitive and might focus on self-interest rather than helping others.
  • Neuroticism– someone high on this scale is more likely to experience negative emotions, they might be more self-conscious and vulnerable. Someone who ranks low will be relaxed, self-confident and calm.
  • Conscientiousness– someone who is self-disciplined, well organised and dependable. Someone who ranks low on this scale is more likely to be spontaneous and more disorganised.
  • Openness– someone who is open is likely to be an early adopter, creative, novelty-seeking and imaginative. Compared to someone who is more traditional, conservative and inflexible.

Creating content for each persona

Now you’ve got your personas it’s time to start thinking about what language you use to engage with your audience. Just as you wouldn’t use the same language to speak to a 16 year old woman and a 70 year old man, you should separate how you communicate with each persona.

Use the big five personality traits to guide what language you use to communicate with your audiences. Take a look at some of these tips below taken from Nathalie Nahai’s presentation at the Turing Festival.

  • Extraversion: content that is attention grabbing and gives an idea of excitement. It is likely to appeal to a person’s adventurous side. Offering social rewards might help engage extraverts further.
  • Agreeableness: content that connects people with family, friends and their community. It is therefore likely to use ‘we’ and ‘our’.
  • Neuroticism: content that makes people feel safe and secure. It may help overcome any fears people may have about getting in touch with your organisation.
  • Conscientiousness: content that focuses on time saving and efficiency. It will give a person a sense of duty and potentially make them feel guilty for not doing something.
  • Openness: content that appeals to someone’s creative side, it might use words like innovative and imaginative to engage an audience, but content will also be intellectually stimulating and get the reader thinking.

Next time you’re writing content, think about what persona you’re trying to appeal to and what their personality is like. It’s certainly something I will be trying as I continue to develop our engagement plan for Good HQ!