Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Blogging and Audience Perception


You're right, I do owe the world another giveaway, and hopefully my grand finale prize will be announced within a week.  I obviously need a secretary, and a revenue stream from which to pay a secretary.

BUT, I wanted to share an interesting model I've stumbled upon while doing my never-ending thesis research.  Social media is such a hot topic in so many academic fields that I'm just drowning in relevant sources, I've cited almost 70 so far in the thesis chapter I'm working on, and had over 50 in my first chapter.  AND I'VE READ MOST OF MOST OF THEM.  Which means my head just spins and swims with theory thoughts when I try to think in a straight line about blogging, microblogging, and such.

But here's a concrete nugget of applicable clarity.  This diagram is from a report by David Russell Brake[1] in the International Journal of Communication. Pardon the subpar resolution, but this is his chart, not mine.

Here's what Brake's study was wondering: Who do bloggers think is reading what they write, and how does it inform what they choose to write about and disclose?  Because blogging can be simultaneously a very intimate and a very public medium, this is complicated.  He found that most bloggers have an "ideal audience" in mind when they write, but very few have a concrete idea of who is reading their blog (based on analytics) and that even with analytics it's impossible to accurately conceptualize one's entire audience.  

But Brake did find the above patterns in how bloggers' perception of their audience affected the way they blogged.  Factors included whether the blogger anticipated a one-way interaction with their audience or whether they were hoping for or expecting meaningful interaction from their audience (via comments or invited action), or if alternately the blogger felt the audience was irrelevant to their motivation for blogging.  With these (horizontal) factors considered, the vertical axis of the chart considers whether bloggers think of their audience as consisting primarily of friends or of strangers (which categories are inherently problematic in a blogosphere where people can consider their relationship one of friendship without having actually met in person.  Bloggers with especially loyal readerships may perceive their audience to be both at the same time.) 

Still, looking at Brake's diagram, it can be helpful for a blogger to determine which form of blogging they are actually engaging (or intending to engage) in, and to consider that in their branding and style guide.  Hopefully I can revisit this and go into more depth on the details and implications of each"type" - you know, after I write another 50 pages or so of thesis.