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When starting or reevaluating your social media strategy, it’s important to go all the way back to the basics.  What are the basics, you ask?  The groundwork of a good social media strategy is a solid brand tone created by strong core values, and intentional target demographics turned into marketing personas.

Let’s start with a discussion on core values

The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

About 4 years ago, I brought on a business partner who specialized in operations.  She had me read a book called The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. The book focuses on organizational health, why it’s important, and provides a recipe for creating healthy organizations.

One of the most important ingredients for organizational health is a set of strong core values.  

Core values are words that represent how an organization behaves.  In the book it states, “The best way to differentiate core values for an organization is to ask, ‘Would your organization be able to credibly claim that you are more committed to this value than 99% of the companies in our industry?’ If the answer is yes, this can be one of your core values.”

If you’ve never identified core values before, you can make or buy a set of cards with adjectives on them and do the following exercise:

  • Gather many voices from throughout your organization for a meeting focused solely on core values
  • Select one person to be the main conversation facilitator
  • Take the cards you’ve made or purchased with adjectives on them and introduce the activity to the group
  • One by one, go through each card, read the word, and decide as a group if that word is something that represents your organization, that DOESN’T represent your organization, or that you aspire to represent your organization
  • Once you’ve got the words into the 3 piles, focus on the pile of words that represents your organization
  • Look for themes in the words you selected.  If there are multiple words that all have similar meanings, group them together and pick the one that most closely aligns with the way your organization behaves.
  • Finish the exercise with 2-4 words you can identify as your core values

To sum up, let’s be crystal clear on why we care about this.  Your core values inform your brand tone of voice, and having a clear and consistent tone of voice allows your community to trust you as an entity because they feel the cohesion from platform to platform when interacting with your brand.

Now that you understand core values and their importance, let’s move on to marketing personas.

If you want your content to be valuable, and you do, then you need to closely identify who the content is intended for.  Value is in the eye of the beholder, and if you are too vague in identifying who your content is for, then the content will be too vague to resonate with anyone. 

So, how do you select your target demographic and create a marketing persona?

We start by identifying who the brand’s favorite clients, customers, or members are.  They might be a favorite because the brand makes the most profit off of them, or because they’re the easiest to work with, or a myriad of other reasons.  So ask yourself, “who do you want more of in your community?”

Once you have an idea in your mind of a real person who you’d like to bring into your community, it’s time to start creating an imaginary avatar who represents this person.  Start exploring their demographics, interests, behaviors, etc.

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Career
  • Family dynamics
  • Hobbies
  • Fears
  • Motivations for engaging with your brand
  • Hesitations for engaging with your brand

When you finish filling in these fields, give the imaginary person a name.  (That’s my favorite part!) Now, you have a marketing persona. 

Refer to this persona by name when preparing content.  Create ad audiences named after them.  Celebrate when you bring more of them into your community. Speak about them often within your team to maintain cohesion and focus on who you’re targeting.

Most brands/organizations will create between two and four personas and will target those personas intentionally on specific platforms.

These exercises should be revisited approximately once per year to ensure they are still valid and are working as intended. 

I hope you all have a great time with these exercises.  Complete them, use them when creating and promoting your content, and watch your communities grow.  I’m proud of you for the work you’re doing on your social media strategies.  Keep it up, friends!

Listen to us discuss this on the SprySpace Podcast: Laying the Groundwork with a Solid Brand Tone and Marketing Personas