Persona Research Personas

Automatic Persona Generation for Online Content Creators: Conceptual Rationale and a Research Agenda

In this perspective manuscript, my co-authors and I propose an approach of employing personas as an alternative form of making large volumes of online user analytics information useful to end users of the user and customer analytics, with results applicable in software development, business sectors, communication industry, and other domains where understanding online user behavior is deemed important.

Toward this end, we have developed a system that automatically generates data-driven personas from social media and online analytics data, capable of handling hundreds of millions of user interactions from tens of thousands of pieces of content on YouTube, Facebook and Google Analytics, while retaining the privacy of individual users of those channels.

Our approach (1) identifies and prioritizes user segments by their online behavior, (2) associates the segments with demographic data, and (3) creates rich persona profiles by dynamically adding characteristics, such as names, photos, and descriptive quotes. Read more about benefits of data-driven personas.


Salminen, J., Jansen, B. J., An, J., Kwak, H. and Jung, S. G. (2018) Data-driven Personas in the Age of Online Analytics and Social Media. Personas: User Focused Design. 1, 1, Article 1, 135-160.

By Jim Jansen

Dr. Jansen is a Principal Scientist in the social computing group of the Qatar Computing Research Institute, and a professor with the College of Science and Engineering, Hamad bin Khalifa University, and an adjunct professor with the College of Information Sciences and Technology at The Pennsylvania State University. He is a graduate of West Point and has a Ph.D. in computer science from Texas A&M University, along with master degrees from Texas A&M (computer science) and Troy State (international relations). Dr. Jim Jansen served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry enlisted soldier and communication commissioned officer.

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