Adapting User Personas to Social Engagement

Posted by Gena Folts on Wed, Nov 10, 2010

personas border“To create a product that must satisfy a broad audience of users… you will have far greater success by designing for one single person.”
Alan Cooper (author of The Inmates are Running the Asylum)

Ryan Evans, Director of Experience Design at Corey McPherson Nash, took on the task of educating the MITX community about the incredible opportunities associated with user personas in social media at this morning’s MITX Design event. Some of you may not be sure of the benefits, process, or ROI associated with their use, but after learning some user persona basics, the effect the social world has on them, how to adapt them for engagement, and the answers to several astute audience questions, you will be chomping at the bit to try this process out at your company!

This post will provide the slides from the event, cover the basics, and discuss the differences in user personas in the social world.

User Personas Basics:

Respect Your User’s Goals – You must find the overlap in your user's goals and your business objectives. Value comes from finding that common ground and desiging around it.

Take Advantage of all That Personas Offer Your Team – Personas are an amazing opportunity to brainstorm and prioritize features for products, imagine scenarios they will be used in, and act as a focal point to align your team.

Base it on Reality – Surveys, analytics, workshops, interviews – there are a lot of ways to conduct research to define your user personas, but the background data and research has to be found and cited.

Limit Your Scope – Evans recommends a maximum of 7 user personas, 3 being the ideal. Remember: you are trying to focus your entire organization. Giving them convoluted personas to work around isn’t going to help anyone.

How Are Personas Different in a Social World?

  • User tasks are less defined, so creating and acting on a user persona requires more finesse.
  • Social tasks can be difficult to link to business objectives. A “like” doesn’t always generate a new lead, so setting measurable and reasonable goals is paramount.
  • Users now anticipate and react to the behavior and interests of others.
  • New personas may appear with social media that previously were not part of the persona set, so you have the potential to uncover new opportunities and needs.
  • Content and timing play a more important role in user goals. An example is the voter button on Facebook which had a short shelf-life but was powerful for many users during the election.
  • You need to think about how social media integrates into our existing, traditional user tasks.

Want More?
Linked in group for MITX Design series: