Knowing your audience is important for business, sure, but it goes beyond that. It gets back to personal communication, and as I noted elsewhere and helps diminish the signal to noise ratio: In essence, you should know what you’re communicating, to whom, and to what end.
Since we’re all sharing content on the vast canvas of the Internet, we should all understand this, particularly since people who we didn’t expect to see our content may well do so… and also because it creates our digital shadow: Who people think we are.
If you’re going to be late for work, as an example, what you would call/text to your boss should be different than missing a meeting with friends. There are people who don’t understand that difference, and they will find no help in this post.
There are some assumptions that will help with this:
- What you communicate on the internet will last forever, even if you delete it.
- We may not be what people perceive, but they don’t know that. Your digital shadow is who they think you are and you should consider what you want that digital shadow to be. If you want to be seen as an idiot, by all means…
- You can’t control how your content is viewed, but you can control how you are.
- Spreading bad information makes you an untrusted source, spreading good information makes you a trusted source. Which do you want to be?
- Social networks only show your content to the audience their algorithms think will want to see it. If you want to change someone’s mind about something, they need to see it and they probably won’t see it unless you change how the algorithm perceives it… which means you might want to write to your audience. Unless you’re just intellectually/emotionally masturbating with people who think like you.
I don’t judge. If that’s your thing… (but expect me to disappear if I’m in your network).
- If you don’t want to be perceived as an idiot, don’t communicate like one.
- It’s safe to assume that someone will absolutely hate what you’re communicating. They’re part of your audience. Defuse them beforehand if you can.
- If you share content of a certain type all the time, you’ll get typecast. Do you want that typecast?
- Using profanity might seem fucking brilliant at times, but overdone it’s cliche. Oh. And your parents/children might read it 10 years from now, so get a grip.
- Lawyers might use what you share in a court case. Yay. We love lawyers. It isn’t mutual when it comes to litigation. “It’s not personal…”
- Ranting and shouting isn’t very effective.
I’m certain I’ll think of a few more after I post this, so don’t think this is an exhaustive list.
Summarized: Everything you communicate can and will be used against you at some point.
Your audience on the Internet is more global than your Facebook friends and Twitter followers. Communicate like it.