woman with floral crown on
We've all heard of buyer personas, but the seller persona you present in public will help customers decide whether or not to do business with you PHOTO: Autumn Goodman on unsplash

You've analyzed your prospective market, built buyer personas for your perfect customer, and crafted your website and Facebook pages with all the social media bells and whistles to ensure that the right people are coming to view your content, products and services. 

You also have social media monitoring tools in place to track your customers’ journey to you. Did they enjoy the experience? Is it simply enough that they stayed the journey? How can you be sure?

Tara Hunt, founder of Truly Social, offers insight into the customer experience on her Twitter feed: “When your interactions with a customer are around a transaction, this is customer service. When your interactions with a customer are about forming a relationship, this is customer experience.” How much of your interactions with customers are building the types of relationships that result in sustained and superior customer experiences?

In a recent article that picked the best Facebook pages in 2017, we're reminded of digital marketing best practices with some great examples. Did I find them engaging? Yes, they had wonderful content. Did I enjoy the experience? Yes, often very entertaining. Would I go straight out and buy something from that company? Probably not. 

While I enjoyed the experience as a consumer of media, as a prospective customer I didn’t feel like a relationship was being built. And it’s relationships that are key to customer experience. Relationships are by definition two-way. Was there much evidence of two-way interactions on these “best practice” Facebook pages? Hardly any, and when they did exist, they fell into the category of customer service and were certainly not enough to generate any depth of client relationships.

Customer Service and Customer Experience

What Are Seller Personas?

If you are a marketer, you are likely to have been exposed to buyer personas, which are defined as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” That is, how you, as a seller, perceive your prospects as potential customers. But what of buyers’ perception of you as a seller? Surely, a true customer experience would require buyer and seller personas to mesh? What seller persona do you represent to your customers?

The demographics equivalent for a seller persona may simply be the category of products and services that you offer. But things start to get interesting when we start to look at some of the softer persona dimensions. What is your greater mission? Your company’s values? How does your brand respond to negative feedback? Is there a willingness to engage at a personal level? 

As Ajay Khanna pointed out in his article on transparency and customer experience, buyers are increasingly wanting more transparency around your company’s business practices, vision and values before they commit to a purchase. Does your seller persona reflect and align with the buyer personas that you so carefully constructed?

We have designed personas for characterizing online interaction behaviors within enterprise social networking environments. We present them here as a means for building a seller persona for your organization (or you as an individual for that matter) that reflects how you are currently interacting with your prospective customers, using Facebook as an example.

Which Seller Persona Are You?

The Catalyst

The Catalyst
This is our label for the social media star who gains a large number of likes, shares and follows for the content that they post. Those acknowledged best practice Facebook pages easily match this seller persona. It also fits the majority of successful Facebook pages today.

The Engager

The Engager
Engagers have to do more than post interesting content. They need to engage in active conversation — i.e. demonstrate through their own replies, likes and shares that they are prepared to give as much as they receive. A rare find, judging from most Facebook pages.

The Responder

The Responder

They tend to like and share a lot, without necessarily looking to develop or extend a conversation. It is more likely that you as an individual might adopt this role. But as a company it is also a rare find.

The Broadcaster

The Broadcaster
We might unkindly call these players a failed Catalyst. Someone or some organization that posts content that attracts little or no reaction. One does not want to be a broadcaster on social platforms or have a Facebook page that attracts little attention to what is being posted.

The Observer

The Observer
Someone or some organization that has only minimal activity and therefore is not really engaged in the social platform. Or perhaps they are just starting out or simply experimenting. Unfortunately, many organizations who have neglected their Facebook pages might fall into this persona.

The first two personas are most aligned to a strong seller persona, leading to higher conversion rates. The Catalyst persona aligns with the current Facebook Engagement measures. Nothing new here. However, the Engager persona is the hidden gem. Developing posts that attract more comments that you can respond to, will help achieve that Engager persona. And comments, more so than simple likes, have shown to result in up to a nine percent boost to your conversation rates.

How Does Your Organization Measure Up?

So how does your Facebook page measure up? The following table is not meant to be prescriptive, but simply to provide a sense of how you could assess your Seller's Persona:

Assessment Criteria Table

Conversations Take Two

You will most likely find yourself as one of the first three personas — and hopefully as a catalyst. But if you now want to enhance your customers' experience through stronger relationships, aim to promote two-way conversations, perhaps becoming a Responder and then reaching for that treasured Engager role.