Understanding your audience

People consume and interact with digital media in different ways and these behaviours are shaped by many things such as demographics, interests, access and time. It is important to remember that you can’t please everyone all of the time, especially online. This means that your target audience shouldn’t be “everyone” as this will make it more difficult to develop effective content.

Before any kind of engagement, you need to understand who your audience is and where you will find them and then create content that will engage them. The best way to identify your audience is to look at who is already engaging with your content (whether online or offline). Look at what they enjoy and how they respond. Depending on what information you can collect, it may also be useful to discover where they are based, their interests, and their ages. From here you can figure out where you can grow and develop your content. Understanding what your audience likes can help you tell more relevant stories. If you don’t have an existing audience, you can still create an idea of who your audience might be by imagining the type of person who would engage with your collections based on their interests.

When approaching your storytelling, identify themes, places and interests that may be potential points to hook your audience in. This might be through a demographic like age or it may be through something more specific like an interest in a particular area of history or culture for example ‘local history’. Consider digital engagement as an opportunity to reach people who haven’t engaged with you before.

Each platform guide in the toolkit has an audience section that gives an insight into the demographics and audiences you can expect to be using a particular platform. This will help you decide if what you have to share is right for the audience of that platform. You can also use the platform finder to help you understand what content and platforms are best for different audiences.

Exercise – identifying your audience

Answer the following questions to start to build a profile of your audience:

  • What generation do they belong to?
  • What are they interested in?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What other things do they engage with? i.e. newspapers, magazines, websites, apps
  • What groups or clubs do they belong to?

Further development

Take a look at this online audience toolkit from The Space. It has a lot of guidance for Arts and Cultural organisations about understanding their digital audience:

The Space’s Online Audiences Toolkit

If you are looking to grow a particular audience as part of your digital engagement then take a look at the following guide:

The Space – From one audience to many communities!

The next section of the Creative Inspiration Guide focuses on developing your style and tone.