Give your audience what it wants: 3 questions for content planning

It’s true that most content producers have two audiences – humans who will use the information and crawlers that will index it and make it accessible. With recent changes in how pages are ranked in search, those are getting closer. Here are some audience characteristics to think about as you decide where/when/how to communicate.

  1. Why do they care about my message? In other words, how will they use the message. It might be that they need a piece of information for a specific purpose like doing a task. It might be more nebulous – so they can feel informed when they talk to others. They may have an emotional need, looking to be entertained. In fancy professor talk, finding the information itch that your message will scratch is called considering the uses and gratifications of the audience.
  2. What about them constrains how they will consume my message? If you are creating a web page for the youngest Girl Scouts, who are in kindergarten, you can’t assume that they can read. If you are creating an event poster to be hung in a senior center, large, clear type is important. If you are creating a billboard, your message needs to be clear in 5 words or fewer. If it can’t be, that’s not your medium.
  3. What about how they will use my message constrains how I will create it? We get requests in our Interactive Media program to create QR code video tours sometimes. This might be a great idea. But, video eats bandwidth, and if you are relying on people to use their own data they pay for to consume your video, you may be disappointed. At the very least, you want your videos to be as short and compact as possible. It’s useful to think about what technology they will use to consume the message, but also what situation they will be in. My dentists’ office has a dentist TV channel that plays in the waiting room. I am sure it drives the staff insane to watch that every day, but since I am a captive, bored audience at that point, with my mind on my teeth, it’s actually a good place to do simple patient education.

Learn more:
A breakdown of Uses and Gratifications

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