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How to use personality insights: analyse each value like a pro

Did you know that there are technologies which can detect the personality of a user based on a few social media postings? If not, you may have missed one of the most important marketing innovations of recent times.

If we know more about the personality of social media users, this can open all sorts of doors for marketing campaigns. Most importantly, we should be able to target our ads with lazer-like efficiency, picking out individuals who will be receptive to each specific message.

This article will look at how personality traits can transform marketing efforts. But if you want to head straight for KPI6’s expert briefing, click here to download our comprehensive eBook.


Before we can discuss how to use personality insights as a marketing tool, we need to know what they are, and why they have gained recognition in recent years as an indispensable analytical technique.

The key development has been the growth of research into ways that the language we use can be mapped onto actually existing personality types. For centuries, or even thousands of years, philosophers have mused about the existence of “personality types“.

This took on a classic form with the “Big Five” hypothesis. First theorised in the 19th century, this hypothesis tended to map human behaviour via 5 personality factors: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (OCEAN, for short).

However, this was generally based on speculation, not hard empirical facts. The advent of AI and the vast increase in computing power has provided that data, providing personality researchers with an unprecedented amount of information to test their theories.

How IBM created a powerful new tool for audience targeting

Most famously, IBM deployed its Watson AI system to look at whether textual information created by social media users could be analysed via the OCEAN system.

Starting in 2012, Watson began to analyse words used by individuals on social media, and cross referenced them to the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count psycholinguistic dictionary (LIWC). By doing so, IBM’s technicians were able to sort users into “neurotic” or “open” – as the OCEAN system suggests.

In the process, they opened up a whole new field for social media marketers. For example, IBM reported that users exhibiting highly neurotic but open characteristics would be much more likely to click on ads. In an environment where click-through rates mean everything, that kind of information is invaluable.

So hopefully the value of personality insights is becoming clearer. Fortunately, Watson hasn’t been monopolised by IBM, and its findings are available to anyone who wants to use them. As a result, we are in a better position than ever to discover audiences who will respond to our campaigns.

But how can you put these insights to work for your company? Let’s find out more.

How to turn personality analysis into a profit making machine

The “Big Five” personality traits used by Watson can be game-changers when trying to discover the right audience to target with ads or content, but each trait needs to be properly understood. We need to know what it means to score highly on “extraversion” before we can map that onto real-world audiences. So here’s a quick primer.

1. Openness

First off, those who score highly for openness are characterised as seeking out new experiences, having a creative attitude, and the desire to pursue intellectually stimulating activities. They aren’t afraid to try something new, and may in fact see that as a positive value in itself.

2. Conscientiousness

Individuals scoring highly for conscientiousness tend to exhibit intense concern about other human beings and the natural world. They put ethics above innovation, and routinely attach moral qualities to the commodities they consume.

3. Extraversion

People classed as extraverts tend to have dense social networks. They demonstrate a positive attitude, are upbeat, full of energy when engaging with friends and strangers, and willing to express firm opinions on a wide range of subjects. As we noted earlier, they are also more likely to respond to contests or seek rewards.

4. Agreeableness

Those scoring highly for agreeableness are usually more low key and modest. They show sympathy for others and seek to defuse conflict, preferring cooperation wherever possible. Additionally, their language suggests strong family and community bonds.

5. Neuroticism

If individuals score highly for neuroticism, this means they exhibit strong emotional responses. They tend to seek security, avoiding content which alarms or threatens them. And they value trust above all else, requiring extra reassurance about opinions or factual issues.

These are simplifications, but as Watson has shown, the OCEAN taxonomy has valid real world applications. Huge communities of social media users can be categorised via those 5 traits. But it’s where the traits combine that real value can be extracted.

Keep on reading to know some interesting real-world applications for the Big 5 model, or head straight for KPI6’s expert briefing by click here to download our comprehensive eBook.


Here are some ideas about how to turn traits into conversions.

1. Use personality insights to fine tune localisation campaigns

Localised marketing can pay big dividends, especially for businesses like estate agents or restaurants, but it can also be expensive. However, if you target local people with the right personality traits, you boost your ROI.

For instance, you might want to analyse a geographical area for people who score highly for agreeableness. As these individuals are known to prize community more highly, they may be a better target for local campaigns.

2. Know which users will respond to competitions and polls

Maximising your engagement statistics on Facebook and Twitter is a constant challenge, and a lot of money can be wasted targeting users who simply aren’t likely to respond.

If you want to use tools like Twitter polls, Facebook surveys, or competitions on platforms like Instagram, it helps to isolate communities of users who score highly for extraversion. We know they are much more likely to click on interactive content, so targeting them will surely boost your engagement rates.

3. Spread your message more efficiently

Can we analyse personality traits to help your brand go viral, more often? Actually, yes, we can.

In this case, you may want to focus on individuals who score highly for openness. These users are characterised by a propensity to share, and a willingness to be exposed to new content and fresh ideas.

If you can funnel your shareable content to those users, there’s a much higher chance of that content spreading far and wide.

4. Capitalise on your ethical branding

Many brands have a story to tell that goes beyond their core products. They could be major givers to charity, use health-promoting ingredients, or act as responsible environmental actors. In any case, those qualities can be converted into engagement and conversions.

However, reaching “ethical consumers” isn’t always easy. Personality traits can be a valuable “in”. If you isolate conscientious (and possibly agreeable) consumers, you should find greater buy-in for products with an ethical USP.

Put some personality into your marketing strategies

Personality insights are not new, but the ways we can apply them are. The tools available from KPI6 are based on Watson’s path breaking analytical systems, and can deliver accurate insights into complex social media audiences.

As we’ve seen, these insights can help businesses know their customers in unprecedented detail. Used well, they allow a level of audience targeting that would have been impossible just a few years ago. So put them to work for your company.

If you want to learn more about how to harness the power of personality analysis, click here to download our free eBook. We will help you target audiences like never before.


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