Define Your Online Audience

Know the Terms

As you consider incorporating online technologies and media into the communication of your work, you may encounter a number of terms surrounding computer-based tools and technologies. As in any field, the arena of online media and computer mediated communication has its own language. So, what do you need to know?

Keep in mind that online communication tools represent an evolving field, so staying up to date on the latest trends is just as important as knowing what is really new.

In many cases, terms are not mutually exclusive since online platforms often interact with each other or have more than one function. For example, Flickr is both a multimedia site (for images) and a social networking one (linking individual users together). To get you started, check out a social media glossary, such as the one compiled by HubSpot.

Know the Audience

Once you know the terms, you can better understand the audience. The Pew Interent Project offers useful insight into who uses various forms of social media. This information can help you define your audience as you work online.

Website

What audiences are you trying to reach with your website? Most academic and lab websites usually only consider an audience of other scientists in their field. However, people searching for specific information are using search engines. Perhaps consider how your website would look to a public audience.

Blog

Audiences can vary drastically depending on the content of a blog. There are blogs for highly technical or specific audiences, the scientifically-inclined public, to the general public. Take consideration of how people are finding your blog, and make it clear who you are writing for.

Social Media

Social media can target very specific to very broad audiences. Decide in advance who you want to reach with your social media efforts and plan your messages accordingly.