The Audience Analysis Cookbook [Part 4/4]

Serving Suggestions

You will need:

Instructions:

  1. Taking the data from your survey tool, contrast and compare different dimensions of the data you have collected. This could include: i) the intentions of the author regarding their target audience with the observations made of their actual blogging network; ii) the style and tone of the blog in comparison with the style and tone of comments and linked to/from sites; and iii) the level and type of interaction between author and audience members;
  2. Combine these findings with your qualitative observations from reading the blogs in order to add depth to your analysis;
  3. Write your findings up in an engaging and accessible way;
  4. Publish online – adapting the style of your posts to the needs of your intended audience;
  5. Engage in conversation with your audience and promote community.

Results:
When applied to the data from a sample of nine blogs on women’s economic empowerment, this recipe produced the following insights.

The findings from quantitative data analysis resonate with the expectation that the main audience for women’s economic empowerment is women. The digital divide – in terms of race and income – is also apparent in these observations: with little representation of marginalised groups in the audience (either intended or actual).

It is clear from the findings that motivations for using blogs operate at different levels. The ‘surface’ needs of the audience appear to be perceived by both authors and the wider network as being informational and intellectual in nature. However, comments reveal that there is also a strong underlying need for personal expression and affiliation among the sites audiences, especially the female members.

The blogs reviewed seemed mostly to transmit information and to build links with other professional or academic resources, rather than establish community. Despite 67% of blogs being updated on a near-daily basis (as opposed to hourly or weekly) and an average number of outgoing-links per post of 3.4, it took an average of 5.5 blog posts to generate each comment and the average number of external websites linking to each post (according to Google) was only 0.5.

This suggests a weakness in building communities around women’s economic empowerment blogs, despite the apparent need of the audience for affiliation and nature of the subject itself. Not only is women’s economic empowerment gaining prominence as a subject, it is also rooted in the human rights and feminist movements.

It is curious that there is an overall tone of needing to ‘justify’ blogs, posts and comments as having instrumental objectives, with none existing purely for emotional support, identity formation or coping with injustice of economic structural violence. This seems to run counter to the observations of Sundar et al (2007) in relation to health blogs, where a large proportion of the blogging network was found to be patients sharing the stories of their conditions.

Overall, whilst the experience of reading WEE blogs was very informative, interesting and motivational, they were not found to be interactive. Instead, they tended to take a top-down and intellectual approach to the subject – expertise was valued more than participation.

The question, then, is whether these blogs are struggling to find and engage the audience, or whether the audience really is limited only to professionals (perhaps because of the digital divide)?

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