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Crafting audience personas for creative and cultural organisations on YouTube

An effective way for creative or cultural organisations to expand their reach and engagement on platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or LinkedIn, is through developing well-defined audience personas. This handy step-by-step guide walks you through the entire process, from start to finish.

Understanding YouTube’s Reach and User Demographics

YouTube is a powerhouse in the digital world. As of 2023, it boasts over 2 billion logged-in monthly users globally, making it one of the most widely used platforms on the internet. It is not just popular among the younger crowds; YouTube reaches more 18–49-year-olds than any other cable network in the U.S for example. This diverse age distribution makes it a fertile ground for creative and cultural content.

A significant trend is the consumption of arts-related content. Users flock to YouTube not only for entertainment but also for education and cultural enrichment. Millions engage with content ranging from virtual museum tours to live performances and tutorials by artists. This growing interest presents a unique opportunity for creative and cultural organisations to connect with a global audience.

Step 1: Who is watching your videos?

A wonderful place to find information about your viewers is through the existing data on your YouTube channel, if you already have one. Inside YouTube studio you can find your insights data, with information about the age, gender, location, and viewing preferences of your current subscribers. YouTube’s Analytics dashboard provides deep insights into who your viewers are and how they interact with your content. For new channels, research general arts and culture consumption trends on YouTube to understand potential audience segments. In the simplest form, you can do this by starting to type in the search box and have YouTube complete the search term. Here you will be able to see trending search terms that can help determine audience behaviors and appetites for certain content.

One of the tools within YouTube that can help you research and understand your audience is in the YouTube Studio section of the platform. From there we go to Analytics – Audience – Research. If your channel does not have many views sometimes there will not be enough data to provide a full report, however, you can still use the ‘Research’ function to research audience trends and make decisions about the viewing habits and preferences of your personas and make content created especially with those personas in mind. You will be able to see the age, gender, and location of your audience for each piece of content, to help you better understand who engages with specific formats or topics.

3 screengrabs of YouTube analytics

Step 2: What are your potential audience doing?

Beyond demographics, consider the behavioural traits of potential viewers. What drives them to watch arts-related content? Are they looking for entertainment, inspiration, or education? Do they prefer short clips or in-depth documentaries? Understanding the motivation behind viewership can help you to tailor your content to match the interests of your audience.

Step 3: Create Detailed Personas

Based on your data and behavioural insights, start crafting detailed personas. Typically, a persona will include:

  • Demographic Information: Age, gender, education level, and geographic location.
  • Interests and Motivations: Why do they watch arts content? What are their hobbies and interests outside of YouTube?
  • Viewing Habits: Preferred types of videos, average watch time, and frequency of visits to YouTube.
  • Challenges and Pain Points: What are their frustrations when looking for arts content online? What needs are not being met by current offerings?

Example Persona: Emily, the Casual Art Explorer

  • Age: 29
  • Location: Urban, England
  • Interests: Enjoys visiting galleries, DIY crafts
  • Viewing Habits: Watches videos primarily on weekends, prefers short, informative videos about new artists or art techniques.
  • Motivation: Seeks inspiration for her own art projects and a deeper understanding of cultural trends.
  • Fun Facts: She has 2 cats, loves orange and is an avid Taylor Swift fan.

Example Persona: Peter, Military History Enthusiast

  • Age: 55
  • Location: Rural, England
  • Interests: Enjoys everything World War 2, home renovation projects, long walks
  • Viewing Habits: Watches videos primarily in the evenings, prefers longer form content on his TV such as informative videos about military tactics, restoration projects and untold secrets of WW2.
  • Motivation: Seeks education and further inspiration for his walks around the British Isles and Europe.
  • Fun Facts: He has 3 teenage children. He has a wife who does not share his love of tanks or long walks but knows what to buy him for birthdays thanks to his love of certain museums online.

Example Persona: Chantel, Busy Mum and Entrepreneur

  • Age: 32
  • Location: Urban, England
  • Interests: Enjoys theatres, plays and the world of acting and performance.
  • Viewing Habits: Watches videos primarily on her phone, prefers shorter informative content on acting, playwriting, and performances.
  • Motivation: Seeks education and inspiration for herself and for her young girls who all do dance or theatre related after school activities.
  • Fun Facts: Chantel’s favourite film is Love Actually but she only watches it at Christmas, which starts in her house in October and ends in late January. She hates the school run and tries to avoid gossiping at the school gates with other mums, her kids know the drill is in and out as fast as possible with military precision.

Example Persona: Ems, Poetry Lover, and Marketing Director for Blue Chip Company.

  • Age: 52
  • Location: Urban, England
  • Interests: Enjoys poetry and music from the 80s.
  • Viewing Habits: Watches videos primarily on her laptop, prefers shorter informative content and videos on business development.
  • Motivation: Seeks inspiration for herself and is looking for potential collaborations with the right partner in the Arts and Culture sector.
  • Fun Facts: Splits her time between London and Spain and is enjoying a rejuvenation of her career after taking a decade off.

Step 4: Apply Personas to Content Strategy

Once you have your personas, use them to guide your content creation. For instance, if one of your personas is a young professional interested in cultural education, you might produce a series of explainer videos on different art movements or behind-the-scenes looks at theatre productions.

Step 5: Continuously Refine Personas

Audience preferences can evolve, so it is important to regularly review and update your personas. Use feedback from comments, changes in viewer analytics, and trends in the broader YouTube community to refine your approach.

Conclusion

Creating audience personas is not just about understanding who your audience currently is, but also about who they could be. By using detailed personas, creative and cultural organisations can create more targeted and effective YouTube strategies, leading to increased viewership and deeper content engagement.

It’s also important to consider that professional content aimed at potential strategic partners or collaborators will be better received on platforms places like LinkedIn or X. Content designed to be entertaining for someone like Emily or Chantel could work well on YouTube or Instagram, but content aimed at more promotion of the successes of a recent exhibition or show would be ideal for someone like Ems who works for a blue-chip corporate. Therefore LinkedIn or X would be the best destination for that specific content.

Remember, each piece of content is an opportunity to connect with both new and existing audiences, nurturing a community of art lovers and cultural aficionados worldwide.

What Next?

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all creative and cultural organisations or individuals who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up to our newsletter below and follow us on X @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

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