Commentary

If Social Networks Were Real People

In marketing we often use personas to help frame our strategy and tactics. We create human profiles and ascribe real attributes, sometimes even real names, to them as a way to understand our target audiences and what make them tick.

For many marketers, it can be a challenge keeping up with the various social networks, much less the people we’re trying to reach through them. So I thought it might be fun to create personas for each of the major social media properties.

Keep in mind these personas are meant to represent the companies themselves, not their founders, employees, or users. And it’s all done in jest-ish.  

Facebook, aka “Felicia”

Felicia is 45 years old and lives alone. She knows everything about every one of her friends — and I mean everything! She knows what they like, she knows who they like, she knows what they read, and she knows where they are… at all times.

Felicia is not only the local busybody, gossip queen, and peeping Tom all rolled into one, but she’s also an entrepreneur. She’s tried her hands at multiple business ventures and money-making schemes over the years, with many of them flaming out fabulously. But after her fair share of lemonade stands, garage sales, Tupperware parties and I-sell-your-stuff-on-eBay, she started rolling in the dough. Literally.

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Felicia now runs the world’s largest pizza shop from her (not-so-little-anymore) house. Her “secret sauce” is creating customized pizzas based on your tastes and delivering them before you even know you were hungry though a global delivery network.

Sure, some people don’t like pizza, and some people resent being shipped a pizza they didn’t ask for — but you wouldn’t believe how many people will eat the thing when it shows up. Of course, each pizza comes with an optional donation envelope. If you liked the pizza, you’re encouraged to give a tip, buy another or at least tell a friend about it. Believe it or not, billions of people actually do.

For her next act, Felicia is preparing to build planes that will carry pizzas to third-world countries and feed starving children everywhere — as long as pizza-blockers (and lactose intolerance) don’t spread too far. Then it’s bye, Felicia!

Twitter, aka “Tommy”

Tommy is 22, a recent college grad, and trying to figure out what to do with his life. He struck it rich his freshman year selling abbreviated class notes, so he’s in no particular hurry to settle into a career. He figures he can keep experimenting a while longer till the money runs dry — and there’s no sign of that happening anytime soon.

Tommy is very popular and quick-witted. He can think on his feet and make his point in very little time, with very few words. That’s why he was such a good notetaker. There are other ways he can apply these skills, though — or so his parents keep telling him — such as news or entertainment, but it’s hard to make serious coin in those industries.

Deep down, Tommy really wants to break into retail or travel — but not as a store associate or hotel clerk. He wants to change the way these businesses are run. He has some good ideas and a lot of people that turn to him for advice about these sectors. But so far, he hasn’t been able to find a way to leverage his quick wit into recommendations or anything beyond sharing verbatim what he’s been told by others.

The thing is, people trust Tommy. They share a lot with him. It’s just that they never really get below the surface. This leaves Tommy without a lot of context for understanding people’s habits and motivations.

For now, though, he’s subsisting just fine on these one-offs and making the people around him happy just to be around him. Once he figures out how to cultivate more meaningful, long-term relationships, Tommy will hit his business stride. He’ll be major, Tom.

LinkedIn, aka “Larry”

Larry is all business. Seriously, all the guy ever does is talk about is work. Some people find it annoying. But if you’re as passionate about business as Larry is, you love him — and can’t live without him.

Larry is 50something and reaching a bit of a mid-life crisis. He’s done well in his career as a car salesman. He has a knack for helping people find their best selves behind the wheel of a shiny new car. And he knows how to network. Most of his business comes from referrals.

Sure enough, Larry’s made a lot of money and shows no signs of slowing down. But selling cars just kind of gets old after a while. And he’s tired of wearing a suit every day. He sees some of his friends killing it with apps, and he wants a piece of that action. He yearns for the day when he can more hip and casual — and maybe even don a leisure suit, Larry.

Running long on word count, so time for speed round…

Pinterest, aka “Penny”

Penny is a 38-year-old mom. She makes quilts. People from all over send her patches and come to look at her finished pieces. And now people are paying to have their patches included. Indeed, she’s making a pretty Penny.

Instagram, aka “Izzy”

Izzy is an 18-year-old aspiring photographer. Every picture she takes is amazing. Just ask her. She’s obsessed with her boyfriend and is always checking to see if he likes her pics. Well, Izzy?

Snapchat, aka “Sam”

Sam is 12 and loves attention. She thinks the world revolves around her and lives life like it’s one big selfie. Her motto: Sam, I am.

Google+, aka “Gertrude”

Gert is in her late 90s and on life support. Her family is very wealthy, though, and exploring ways to extend her life cryogenically or perhaps through amputation and regeneration. There’s a good chance she’ll re-emerge in some form, albeit perhaps a bit vanilla. When you see her again, yell, “Yo, Gert!”

2 comments about "If Social Networks Were Real People".
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  1. Ellen Lebowitz from Ellen Lebowitz Press, September 2, 2015 at 4:45 p.m.

    Very amusing, Aaron.  Thanks for writing this funny piece.
    Cheers,
    Ellen Lebowitz

  2. Aaron Goldman from 4C, September 2, 2015 at 5:47 p.m.

    Thanks Ellen, glad you got a kick out of it!

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