Week 5: Who’s your audience, and how do you make them pay attention?

Who’s your audience? Photo: davidrbanta/deviantart


Know who you’re talking to

Although you might have the goal of reaching as many people as possible, your audience isn’t ‘everyone’. It’s a group of people with similar characteristics that you’d like to get your message to.

To work out who those people are for you, you can start with some questions:

  1. What are their demographics and interests?
  2. What goals do they have, or what do they need?
  3. What challenges do they face?
  4. What motivates them?
Know your purpose

What is your content for? Most content has one of the following purposes:

  • Informing
  • Entertaining
  • Trying to sell something

Depending on your purpose, your audience will most likely not be just like you.

If you’re creating content that informs people about kids’ health, for example, your audience is likely people aged 20-50 who have a kid or kids in their care.

If you cover eSports, you might find after a bit of research that your main audience is likely to be a particular gender and age group, with a specific set of interests and motivations.

So let’s say we’re trying to work out our ideal audience for TAFE Radio, Off Campus, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Using the questions above as a guide, and knowing our purpose (informing and entertaining students and young people, and maybe getting some to sign up for a course) we can start to describe a ‘target persona’, someone we hope is fairly typical of our audience. Meet Lola, someone we hope will take notice of our content:

young woman with blonde hair looks over her shoulder at the camera and smiles

Demographic: Aged 2o, student, works part time
Interests: Live music, gaming, photography, social justice
Goals: Finish TAFE, get a good job, move out of home, travel
Challenges: Cash flow, anxiety about future and career
Motivations: Care for animals and the environment, fun, friends, family


Your turn. Define a purpose for your stories and other digital content. Consider that and the different qualities above to describe someone you think is typical of the audience you’re hoping to reach. Save your person to your folder in the Online & Social folder in the Drive.

Tone of voice

So now you know who you’re trying to reach, it’s important to establish a consistent tone of voice on your website and in your social media interactions.

Tone of voice is your personality, or the personality of the organisation you represent – it reflects your culture, and what makes you unique.

You can start by considering four dimensions:

  1. Funny vs Serious
  2. Formal vs Casual
  3. Respectful vs Irreverent
  4. Enthusiastic vs Matter-of-fact

You can give the same message a range of different tones. For example, this tech error message:

  • We apologise, but we are experiencing a problem.” – is serious, formal, respectful, and matter-of-fact.
  • We’re sorry, but we’re experiencing a problem at our end.” – is a little more casual. ‘We are’ becomes ‘we’re’, ‘apologise’ becomes ‘sorry’, and ‘at our end’ is added.
  • Oops! We’re sorry, but we’re experiencing a problem at our end.” – adds a bit of enthusiasm. So the message has changed from being formal and matter-of-fact to casual and enthusiastic.
  • What did you do!? You broke it! (Just kidding. We’re experiencing a problem at our end.)” Adds an attempt at humour and a little irreverence.

The message you choose to send out will depend on a couple of things:

  • Your own personality
    If you’re usually funny and a bit cheeky, it’s ok to keep your language casual, enthusiastic, and a bit irreverent
    If you’re representing a more serious personality or organisation, take care to remain formal, respectful, and matter-of fact
  • Your users
    Think about the personality, likes, and dislikes of your users, readers, followers
    Also really important are their emotions, and what they need information-wise from each piece of content. The tech error message above might be a real inconvenience for people; in that case, humour is likely to be irritating.

(Nielsen-Norman Group, The Four Dimensions of Tone of Voice)


The Journalism, Radio, and Socials department here at #teamTAFE has developed a Social Media Personality.

  • Thinking of the four dimensions, what tone of voice do you think we might normally use in our online interactions?
  • Have a look at our news site Off Campus, and our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. How do we establish our personality on those platforms?
Engaging your audience

So we know who we want to talk to, and we’re learning how to talk to them. What do we talk about to engage them and stop the death scroll?

Tell good stories.

Your stories should be useful to people, or entertain them, make them smarter, make them feel something. Your stories can be short or long or somewhere in between. They can be funny, serious, or sad. But try not to let them be boring!

Discussion: What stops you scrolling?

  • Make a list of the places you go to find news or entertainment
  • Try to categorise each one: informative, entertaining, or brand (i.e. an account that is trying to sell something)
  • What do you like about each of the sites or accounts you visit frequently?
  • Choose one that tells stories. What is its personality? Use the four dimensions to define its tone of voice.
  • Find a story you like. How is the story structured? What makes it interesting? What emotions does it evoke? Does it make you smarter? Make you laugh?

Story plan.

  1. Write down three ideas for stories you will make, either for WordPress or for one of your social media accounts. The stories can be written, photos, audio, video, or a combination
  2. Define whether each story’s purpose is to inform or entertain
  3. Add a sentence to each idea explaining why the story will interest your audience, keeping in mind your target persona’s demographic, interests, goals, challenges, and motivations
  4. Use the four dimensions to establish the tone of voice for each of your stories
  5. Write an outline for the first story, keeping in mind beginning, middle, and end
  6. Upload to your folder in the Online & Socials folder in the Drive

This plan is the start of your Online & Social assessment portfolio, and next week you’ll make the first story. If you run out of time today, please upload your plan before next week’s class 🥰

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