Finding the forest through the trees

Do you know who your audience is?

It seems like a simple question, but you’d be surprised how many businesses — newspapers and news organizations included — don’t have more than  a general idea. And that disconnect could be the key into solving the dilemma news orgs have in continuing declines of readership.

Newspapers continue to see circulations decline. TV news continues to see the same in viewership. Despite redesigns,  new personalities, new focuses, the audience continues to get smaller. Why? Probably because the ‘mass’ audience no longer exists. 

Thanks to cheap or easily accessible internet access, the growth of search engine technology and, most recently, the growth of social networking, audiences who were fed news and information from a few media outlets can now filter their own news on their level. As a result, the masses that TV news and newspapers have appealed to in the past are bring broken into niche crowds who share similar interests, ideas, or mores.

As a result, the niche audiences no longer rely on a single source to receive information. They can get that information from numerous sources, or rely on one another to exchange news. And, since one person can be a member of several niches, information can be passed among niche groups.

Now, someone looking for news does need to listen to Katie Couric at 5:30, or wait until 6 a.m. to pick up a paper. With RSS feeds, they can find the news that interests or engages them. Through Facebook or Twitter, they can exchange information with friends and followers. If they find a news source that meets or exceeds their expectations, they can share that with their respective niche groups.

What this means is that those news organizations (and all business in general) no longer can focus on attracting one big crowd. To be successful, you’ll need to find those niche audiences that are interested in what you have to offer, and key on getting into those groups.  This will likely mean that publishers and TV execs, instead of offering one ‘general interest’  product, will need to break out several products targeted to specific niche groups.

And that’s where “knowing your audience” comes in. Part of knowing your audience is knowing how they get their information. If your target group is trading information through sources as blogs, Twitter or Facebook, you need to adapt your information delivery to those platforms. 

The more niches you successfully capture, the more readers you gain. And, if you build credibility and trust, your niches will pass your product to other niches, which could add to your readership.

It used to be trying to see the forest for the trees. Now, you need to focus on the trees to build your forest.

Know your audience. Know how to deliver to them. The rest will work itself.

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