Should Your Customer Persona and Influencer Persona Be the Same?
Influencer Search & Discovery5 MIN READ
Building influencer personas is a fairly new exercise for post-COVID marketers. Brands are learning that they can't just pick the creator with the most followers, hire them for celebrity endorsements, and expect sales to roll in. Instead, marketers are going the extra mile to understand which community influencers are the best ambassadors for building trust and driving conversions.
Interestingly enough, the most successful brand-creator campaigns tend to occur with influencers whose day-to-day most resemble that of their followers.
"Everyday influencers are brands’ and retailers’ most powerful form of communications. When passionate consumers talk about an experience, tell stories and demonstrate their support, it creates a groundswell of earned media. These influential voices are trusted and authentic, attract new customers, build your brand, and drive sales." - WDB Agency
That said, it's not always clear exactly how much like their followers an influencer ought to be in order to drive best results. No matter how "everyday" a creator appears, the truth is that their lives are uniquely different from their followers. More importantly, there are more factors that brands must consider when choosing the right creator partners.
So there is a clear balance to strike when it comes to identifying that perfect influencer voice and how closely they mirror your customer persona.
What is a Customer Persona?
Customer Personas are detailed descriptions of your ideal customer. These descriptions go by many names, including:
- Buyer Personas
- ICPs (Ideal Customer Profiles)
- Target Customers
- Audience Personas
- Marketing Personas
It's critical that brands know their customer persona before partnering with influencers in the first place. Itemizing attributes that set your customers apart from other customers helps you craft messaging that attracts the right people. Your product and customer experience solve a specific set of needs, and your personas help you understand them.
Customer personas answer questions like:
- What is the most common age range of your best customers?
- Where do your best customers live?
- What is their education and income level?
- What are your customers' most common problems?
- What values do they share?
- What media do your customers like to consume?
- What are their buying experience expectations? (online vs. in-person; flashy vs. simple; high-quality vs. affordability; etc.)
As it happens, your ideal customers take buying advice from only a select group of people - consumers they trust. The next step is uncovering the influential voices those buyers look up to, and for this task, you'll need an influencer persona.
What is an Influencer Persona?
An influencer persona is profile or description of a popular creator that your customers are most likely to follow.
Ideally, these personas describe community influencers - creators with a knack for nurturing connection with and among their followers. Your goal is not merely to hire a popular influencer; rather, you're trying to join thriving influencer communities led by authentic content creators.
How Customer and Influencer Personas are the Same
There will be some natural overlap between your customer and influencer personas.
1. Your Community Influencers Should Be Active Representatives of Your Target Audience.
Influencer who are out of touch with their audience won't have the credibility to motivate their followers to take action. Celebrity endorsements can create general brand awareness, but at the end of the day, influencer campaigns work best when your creators and their followers understand one another.
That's why the top community influencers connect so well with their followers. There is a shared experience, and the creator can empathize and resonate with the community they built in a powerful way.
2. The Best Influencer Communities are Made Up of Both Influencers and Non-influencers.
The reality is that some of your customers are already influencers. Similarly, many community influencers nurture audiences that contain influencers. A great influencer community is a group of people coming together around shared values and goals, regardless of people's statuses on social media.
3. High-performing Community Influencers are Deeply Knowledgeable About the Day-to-Day Struggles of Their Followers.
When a community influencer recommends a product that they love, it immediately connects with followers on the basis that if the product meets the creator's needs, it will meet follower needs as well. Creators that enjoy a high level of authority on a topic or industry earned it by dealing with struggles common to their audience.
While it is possible for macro and mega influencers to be deeply knowledgeable about the day-to-day challenges their followers face, this dynamic is far more common among micro and nano influencers. Their audience is large enough to have an impact but small enough to build meaningful connections.
According to Forbes, influencers that nurture smaller audiences enjoy 60% more meaningful engagement and 20% more conversions for the brands they partner with.
How Customer and Influencer Personas are Different
If someone has 10,000 plus followers on a channel where they post regularly, that person is going to have a different quality of life than their non-influencer followers. For this reason, your customer and influencer personas are going to look a little bit different.
Also, you're not merely try to sell your product to influencers. You're selling a partnership. Your personas need to include more details than a quick biopic of your ideal customer would.
1. Community Influencers are Serious Content Creators.
Creators' lives typically revolve around making content. As such, your influencer personas must describe what that content looks like and how often it gets posted. Understanding whether or not your brand is a good fit means examining the influencer's willingness to promote your products based on their professional social media career.
2. Because Their Personal and Professional Brand are One and the Same, Creators are Careful About Their Brand Collaborations.
The most effective community influencers are going to be picky about the brands they promote. They've worked too hard to build their audience to risk losing it to an inauthentic sponsored campaign. Keeping these things in mind, your personas should indicate in what ways an influencer aligns with your brand and products.
3. The Best Influencers are Full-time Community Leaders.
As you build an avatar of your ideal influencer partner, you will also want to take into account that these creators are online community leaders. As community leaders, it's important to understand the values, goals, and lifestyles they promote to attract members of their audience.
Your customers may be willing to follow trends and leaders, but to some extent, influencers are going to march to the beat of their own drum and set trends for others to follow.
What are the Best Tools for Identifying Your Ideal Community Influencers?
If you're not sure what your ideal influencer looks like or how to start building influencer personas, here are 4 free tools to help you get started.
As the most popular visual social channel online today, Instagram can help you find images, videos, and hashtags that exemplify what your creator partners should look like.
Using IG posts, consider building an influencer dream board. Collect content that matches the kind of posts you want your campaigns to include. Do the same with niche hashtags. Creating this visual persona will save you time and keep you from recruiting the wrong influencers.
2. Buyer Persona Worksheets
Buyer persona worksheets (such as this popular tool by HubSpot) may be designed for customers, but they are also great for your influencer personas. Use your judgement to keep or discard certain categories as needed, and then add a few extra ones, such as:
- Top channels
- Favorites types of content to post
- Follower size
- Engagement rate
- Complementary brand mentions
- Favorite hashtags
3. Image-to-Image / Video-to-Video Influencer Search
CIPIO.ai is the first free influencer search and discovery tool that lets you upload images and videos to find the right community influencers. Using this kind of visual search technology, you'll quickly identify key details about your influencer persona that you would never have noticed before.
If you build an influencer dream board (see #1 above), you can simply drag and drop your image/video into CIPIO.ai and get prescreened results on creators posting that same style of content.
4. Influencer Lookalike Tool
Many creator management tools today include an influencer lookalike tool to help you find more influencers similar to your top performers. CIPIO.ai offers one for free, and this tool is also great for helping you build your influencer personas.
Screenshot from CIPIO.ai
While your customer and influencer personas are going to look identical in some ways, they shouldn't be one and the same. Customer personas are a great place to start building your influencer personas, since it will force you to focus on choosing creators who have meaningful connections with your ideal buyers. Once that is done, you can use the tactics above to complete your influencer personas.
Building your influencer persona focuses your outreach efforts on those creators most likely to be successful for your brand. It will also keep you from getting distracted by vanity metrics (like and followers), which are often misleading.