You may have noticed that almost every article on Share Your Sci encourages you to think about your audience. But what if you don’t know your audience yet? How can you figure out who they are?
Marketing experts and web designers use something called personas to help them think about the target audience they want to reach, and it can be a useful exercise for science communication projects as well.
This coffee break, create audience personas
Personas are imaginary people who are part of the audience you want to reach. Creating them helps narrow down who your audience is, and once you’ve created them you can keep them at the back of your mind whenever you’re planning your science communication activities.
For example, if your target audience consists of high school students and their teachers, you can create a persona of a grade 10 student, a final year student, and a science teacher. Or, if your target audience attends science-themed pub events, you can come up with three people who you think represent the crowd at these kind of events.
Think about who you would like to reach, and create some fictional people. Give them names, and describe their (relevant) habits and behaviour in as much detail as you can. Write a paragraph of text to describe each of them, and that’s your persona!
What have you learned?
This exercise will be different for every project. You may have noticed that thinking about members of your target audience as personas makes it easier to think about their personalities and habits.
Some questions you could have asked about your persona: Are they scientists themselves? Do they read popular science books? How often can they afford to pay for science events? Do they use social media? Where do they usually get their science news? Where do they live?
The more you flesh out your different personas, the better you get to know your target audience.
- How Norwegian researchers are using personas to create sustainable food products
- The Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) created personas for their different user groups.
- This Entomological Society of America webinar describes how to create and use personas.
Image credit: colour-altered image of an original by One Click Group UK on Flickr (CC-BY)