Up Close & Personal Link Building Series: A Persona Is Born

Personas isn’t a dirty word. Here’s how to use them for SEO – the right way.

Now that you’ve done your homework to know the backstory to the influencers in your network as well as how to reach them, it’s time to have some fun.

Part 2 of the Up Close & Personal Link Building Series covers the good stuff: step by step how to create a persona, find people to follow, optimize your account to be more easily found, what content to tweet and how to start outreach with this persona.

“Creating a Twitter account? I know how to do that, ” is probably what you’re thinking. Keep in mind, though, that this persona is NOT your personal account.

The motivations behind it as well as how it behaves may (and probably will) be different than whatever you do for your personal accounts. There are some nuances to persona creation as well as content shared that must be observed in order to make it successful – and eventually start bringing leads in to you rather than you outreaching for them.

Step by step, let’s go through this process together – after all, any tips and tricks to the process are useful in ensuring your persona success.

Also, make sure to check out the bottom of this post for a downloadable guide to share with your team!

Joining Twitter as a Persona

You’re going to need an e-mail address, first. If possible, see if you can get an @client.com e-mail address. Otherwise, use a free e-mail service that you are familiar with to sign up.

1. Create an account using your first name + last initial as your name.
2. Choose a simple username that is interesting and clever.

  • Keep it short, appropriate & avoid using numbers unless they’re spelled out.
  • DO NOT include the client name in this username – you may want to use the persona for more than one client or be able to alter its purpose.
  • Your username can be a witty way to relate to the vertical or just be basic with your first name in it. Try to keep it somewhat simple so it can apply to more than one client (or maybe even vertical) if need be.

3. When you get the e-mail from Twitter, confirm your account and log in.

4. Once you log in, Twitter will ask you to build your timeline. SKIP THIS STEP by just closing Twitter, going to your email to click the link to confirm your account.

5. Click the #Discover tab, then “Browse Categories” to find who Twitter suggests to follow in different verticals. There may be more than one vertical that applies to you – think creatively and choose at least two of these categories to look into.

6. From these two verticals, choose a reasonable number of people from each category chosen (maximum of 4, you don’t want to be all over the place) to follow in the vertical(s) you will be exploring.

7. If you’re using an e-mail address you’ve already used for outreach, use Twitter’s “Search Contacts” feature to see if any bloggers you have already contacted in this vertical are on Twitter. If yes, follow them.

NOTE: From now on in your e-mail signature, include your persona twitter handle as a LINK to this twitter account. As so: @fivetooltweeter

Examples of who to follow at this stage:

  • Personalities who have endorsed the clients’ product
  • Spokespeople in the client vertical (may not be for client)
  • Publishers you already know (we’ll get to influencers later, although some of these other examples listed are influencers)
  • Celebrities whose content your research has shown the target audience is interest
  • Brands or organizations that are partners with your client(s) or are related/relevant

Who not to follow EVER:

  • Yourself or any other personas
  • Other members of your team, friends, family, etc. (UNLESS they are celebrities/influencers)
  • Your SEO agency
  • Accounts that inappropriate or irrelevant to client and audience interests

REMEMBER: You want your timeline to be “clean” – filled with information you can re-share that others may not be, content you can engage with and uncluttered so that you will be able to see when those you wish to contact send out a tweet.

8. For the next step, take a photo of you that is interesting/relevant to the vertical you will be tweeting in to use for your avatar. You can use a photo you already own IF it is has never been used as an avatar on ANY other social profile (or as a gravatar) and does not have anyone else in it.

9. Write your bio.

  • Make it interesting (easier said than done, I know)
  • Optimize with hashtags for the vertical you will be tweeting in (don’t overhashtag, two hashtags is plenty)
  • It doesn’t have to be super long, but don’t leave it short
  • DO NOT just put down a quote or song lyrics- this is your change to optimize so that you can be more easily found in Twitter search

10. Choose a header photo & background photo that fit in with your vertical as well as part of your personality your persona showcases.

11. Follow more users now that your profile is completed – this time, they aren’t necessarily celebrities or high profile.

  • Pick a few from the “Who to Follow” box (click the link in it for a whole list to scrool through). This is what Twitter has suggested based upon whom you are already following, so they are most likely relevant
  • Also search relevant hashtags you have gathered from your research. This may include Twitter Chat hashtags or popular hashtags in this vertical. Choose wisely, using judgment based upon their reach, appropriateness of content and relevance.
  • Use tools to find “power users” based on things such as location
  • Follow the influencers you gathered. You don’t have to follow the whole list at once, and you may want to wait until you’ve posted some content before you follow a few of them.

DO NOT WORRY ABOUT YOUR FOLLOW VS. FOLLOWERS COUNT. This is a vanity metric, you haven’t even tweeted yet, but you also should NOT be following more than 150-200 users at this stage.

You can keep a list and add users to follow as you start gaining followers- this is only because accounts following thousands of accounts with hardly any content look spammy. Once you have content built up over time, you won’t have to worry about this.

Tweet Content for Personas

So, what to tweet? When to tweet? How often to tweet?

Obviously you need to put SOMETHING out there, but you don’t want to post a lot of tweets all at once – that looks spammy, which is the opposite of the presence you want your persona to have.

After you’ve initially created the account, it makes sense to tweet- after all, that’s what it is for. Post three to five tweets, some spaced out a little – one a basic tweet of whatever you want, one a reply and one sharing content from somewhere with your own thoughts added.

This will give those viewing your profile a basis upon which to see what kind of content you share, and it also is a quick way to not seem like a spammer.

The important thing is to consistently be updating- but not over updating  with unique content. You don’t want to be posting the same thing as everyone else within your network, but you can feel free to retweet anything compelling they may tweet.

Tips for Finding Content to Tweet

  • Make a folder of online resources/reading related to your vertical. Don’t only pick boring topics. This is so that you always can have articles to give opinions on to tweet about – go ahead and schedule/practice scheduling a few tweets of interesting posts you find on a few of these sites. Make sure to hashtag & add comments to the posts as appropriate
  • Find a background that is appropriate to the alias you have created (they can have likes/dislikes outside of their vertical)
  • Your Content:
  • Should be a mix of “personal” tweets, articles (with opinions), and conversations
  • There is no set number of people you should contact a day, but eyeball your timeline once in a while and ask yourself if it looks normal
  • Schedule tweets that make sense for whatever time/day they are scheduled
  • Interact on a personal basis with publishers, not just “great article!”
  • Once you start building relationships, branch out & you can be more up front
  • Make sure to have some fun with it- not every tweet has to be boring & give you alias a personality
  • Stay away from topics like religion, politics, etc. that are controversial: you don’t want to anger people or draw unnecessary negative attention to yourself

As far as when to tweet, as your follower count grows, tools like Bufferapp or Hootsuite’s Autoschedule will allow you to more and more accurately schedule tweets at times that promote the most engagement with followers.

How often you tweet is up to you, but it is based upon the behavior of those with whom you’re interacting with. Obviously, don’t flood anyone’s timelines with a million updates, but do not only tweet once a day (no one will see it).

Use your judgment and be observant of the social media behavior of those whom you’re reaching out to.

A good rule of thumb is to schedule/autoschedule about 3-5 tweets/day in addition to your off the cuff and outreach tweets. This will ensure consistency of updates – especially on days you’re busy – but also not make it seem like a robot is operate the persona’s account.

Persona Upkeep

In addition to consistency of posting content, there are also other things regarding pesona upkeep you must keep in mind:

  • Social media is 24/7 – you may want to check in quickly on ‘off times’ to respond, etc.
  • If you own a social media account, DO NOT FOLLOW OR HAVE YOUR ALIAS ACCOUNT FOLLOW IT. Make sure to keep the two COMPLETELY separate. Do not tell your friends about it, do not have other personas or your SEO agency’s accounts follow it, etc.
  • Behave appropriately. You don’t have to sound clinical/professional (if the client does not request this), but do not use profanity or say anything that could be considered overly offensive or controversial. The tone clients prefer in articles is a good guideline to follow when composing tweets.
  • Give a personality to your persona: Personal connections with publishers on things that may not even be in the vertical may help you gain their trust and achieve results.
  • Make a list of these details personal to your persona and make sure to STICK TO THEM in posts. If you aren’t writing the posts, ensure that whoever is knows whatever they may need to know about the persona.
  • Skim articles to ensure persona consistency and accuracy in regards to personal details as well as tone.

Persona Incubation Period

You should spend a week just creating the account, getting used to updating it, interacting with those with whom you follow and slowly adding to your ‘following’ list as more interact and follow you.

After that week aka “persona incubation period,” your persona should appear like a real person’s account (because it is) and you will be ready to begin outreach with publishers.

It is integral that you spend a week developing your persona and participating in relevant conversations before you begin outreach – unless it occurs naturally.

This both contributes to legitimacy as well as allows you to get used to operating the account – or more than one account, if you have a personal account or other personas – without any “accidents.”

No one wants to make the mistake of tweeting the wrong thing from the wrong account and potentially alienating an audience.

Want to download this guide to share with your team? Click here: Joining Twitter as a Persona Guide

Stay tuned to the iAcquire blog! Part 3 of this series will give you tips and tricks for successful outreach with a persona- as well as include examples of do’s and don’ts!

If you missed Part 1, check it out so you will know what research to do to prepare for personas!

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