🧑 Why Community Personas Are an Essential Community-building Tool
By Pam Magwaza
Building good personas is one of the first and most important parts of the community-building process.
Without a solid understanding of who your ideal member is — think their needs, goals, challenges, and more — you'll have a rough time trying to build a community your ideal members will want to be a part of.
But what are community personas, exactly? And why are they an essential community-building tool?
What is a community persona?
In community, personas are specific, fictional profiles created to help a Community Manager or team understand a typical member.
Personas are not unique to community — they can be incredibly helpful in many areas of a business. For example, a Product team may create personas to better understand their users, or a Customer Support team, to better understand their customers.
It’s important to flag here that personas are not the same as the target audience of a business or product. While a target audience is based on an overall group of users or members, a persona is focused on a specific user or member. Target audiences broadly consider factors like demographics and psychographics of a group, but personas represent a specific, fictional person who represents the attributes of the target audience.
Here’s an example of target audience vs. a lightweight persona for a women’s fitness app and community:
Target audience: Women aged 17-50 years old living in the UK who want to prioritize their health and fitness.
Persona: Ally is 25 years old, currently living in London with two other female housemates. She is a junior designer at a marketing agency, and often works long hours so she struggles to make time for exercise. Her goal for this year is to run a half marathon.
As the above example suggests, personas are generally imagined people (grounded in your research of course — more on that later), and creating them can be a lot of fun, too. You can give them names, draw or assign a picture to put a face to that name, and think about the goings-on in their daily lives. Who are they, really?
Still, it’s important to remember that your personas should embody the goals, motivations, needs, pain points, and behaviors of your community’s intended members.