Imagine you’re writing a letter to your grandmother to tell her about your first week at university. What details and stories might you include? What might you leave out? Now imagine you’re writing a text about the same thing to your best friend. Unless you have a really cool grandmother whom you’re extremely close with, chances are the style of writing and details contained in the two would be quite different. Identify Your Audience And Adapt Your Writing Style.
The point to this exercise? Your audience matters.
Identifying And Understanding Your Audience
Before you begin the process of writing, whether it be for personal or business use, you need to take some time to consider who your audience is and what they want from your content. The following steps will help you to achieve this:
1. Determine Who’ll Be Interested In Your Writing
Let’s say you’ve written a story about an archaeologist who uses Stonehenge to travel into the future. Chances are your story will most likely appeal to history buffs and sci-fi fans. But what if your main character was a former Marine? Then your story could also be of interest to military personnel and their families. When you write something, you need to isolate the types of people your writing could be of interest to as a way to determine who your audience might be.
2. Compare Writing Styles
Do you know of another writer who writes in a similar way to you? If so, figure out who their audience is, as this will help you understand who your audience for your content might be. For example, if you’re writing a story about a young teenage girl that falls in love with a vampire, you could probably learn a thing or two about your target audience from fans of the Twilight series. Your target audience isn’t always who a story was written for, but rather who it ends up appealing to. The best way to gauge this is with past evidence.
3. Identify Your Magic Words
If you were using just a few words to describe what your writing is about, what would they be? These magic words are your hook, and understanding this hook will ensure you can identify the sorts of readers that would be interested in your writing and who you should be targeting. When trying to figure out your hook, think about using words that would get your email opened, and connect the dots between your magic words and reader emotion.
4. Research Demographics And Behaviors
To ensure you share written content online with the right audience using the most appropriate marketing mediums, you need to research demographics and behaviors. Let’s say you’re a business that sells independent living aids to older Australian adults. You might choose to gather data about older Australians and their technology use to determine their needs, wants and behaviors. By using this data and understanding that 4 in 5 seniors use social media, you can start to use social media platforms for sharing content. Additionally, knowing that nearly all seniors would trust a doctor more than online symptom checkers to diagnose health issues may help you adjust your writing style.
5. Monitor Online Comments And Engagements
Comments and engagements from readers online let you get to know your audience on a more personal level. For example, by reading through the comments left on your blog posts, like those found on this popular cat blog, you can get insights into the sorts of topics you should be writing about that your audience would value. Social media is also great for doing this, especially if you pay attention to how many people are responding, how they’re responding and how often they’re responding.
Writing For Your Audience
When you talk to someone face-to-face you know exactly who you’re talking to. Because of this, you automatically adjust your speech to ensure your message is communicated appropriately. These same adjustments need to be made when writing for different audiences.
Types Of Audiences To Consider
Generally speaking, there are three main audience categories audience to base your adaptation on:
The “lay” audience has no special or expert knowledge. They connect with the human interest aspect of articles and stories, and usually need background information and desire more description. They may also appreciate the use of attractive graphics and visuals.
The “managerial” audience may or may not have more knowledge than the lay audience about a specific subject, but they need more information so they can make a decision about the issue. They generally connect with facts, statistics, and advice.
The “expert” audience can be the most demanding audience in terms of knowledge, presentation, graphics, and visuals. They often connect with elaborate and technical document formats, specialized and technical vocabulary, up-to-date source citations and accurate information.
As you can see, every audience is different, and to achieve the overall goal of your writing you need to take different approaches depending on your audience. A lot of technical information and statistics with a lay audience, for example, will never work.
Modify Your Content For The Audience
To adapt your writing effectively you must understand the three main categories of readers, the individual characteristics of your target audience, and your communication objectives. Considering all three will help you to effectively design your message and tone. You can then interpret your audience’s reaction to create even more specific content for the future.
Modifying content is an ongoing process and something no writer should ever do quickly. Failing to modify your communication style to suit your audience may result in content that falls short of its goal, and can also cause confusion, misunderstanding, mistrust and even offense in the audience. Not adjusting your writing is a risk you can’t afford to take.
Trust The Process
The process of identifying your audience and constantly adapting your style of writing to suit them may take some time, but it’s a process that all writers must engage in to ensure their message is effectively communicated to the audience and the goals of the writing are achieved.