Who is your audience?

A successful science communicator knows the audience, even before the audience does. The audience determines which type of communication is more effective and whether of not you will meet your goals.

An audience is traditionally referred to as a segment. Before the rise of online platforms -especially social media- segments were classified in matrices depending on social status and consumer behavior. A certain segment would be more or less prone to buying ecological products or having a certain political opinion.

The granularity of segments that followed with the presence of social media makes it more difficult to cross-conclude based on segment. The good thing about this increased complexity, though, is that the broad variety of online platforms carries with them a certain audience. So, if you clearly define your audience, you will also be able to analyze your way to where this audience is present.

Statistics from the recent years (2015-17) shows that a high number of young people (up to around age 20) are found on Snapchat, while a high number of people above age 40 use LinkedIn more than the young audience. If your audience consists mostly of people above the age of 30, then you will find to your perhaps joyful surprise that there is no reason to spend time on figuring out how Snapchat works because the people you want to reach simply are not there.

Analyze your audience

Some of the considerations you must take into account when analyzing your audience are characterizations such as age, nationality, educational level and language.

It can also be very helpful to create a ‘stereotype’ of your audience, so when you create your content, i.e. the material for your science communication, you have a clear image of who you are talking to.

Another good approach, especially if your core audience is very different from yourself, is to create a focus group. If you are communication to children, ask a nearby school if you can test your material on some of their children. The same goes for older audience groups, who perhaps can be found other places in your network.

It is a lot to ask of an audience to define themselves. That is why you have to do it in advance.