Who are your target audiences?
Once you have identified your aims and objectives, the next step is to better understand who your target audiences are. These are groups of people with a stake in an issue, or who can help bring about the change you seek.
Target audiences, or “stakeholders”, can include individuals, groups, organisations or institutions that you wish to engage with your campaign. They may be directly affected by the issue, they may support your cause, or they may be in a position to influence your campaign. Stakeholders can also include active opponents of the change being proposed.
As part of your digital strategy, you should identify and list all relevant stakeholders – and how the aims and objectives of the campaign relate to each. Engaging different groups online will require different messages on different platforms. Mapping your stakeholders can help you understand how people currently think about your issue and what they value and care about. This will help shape your campaign’s frame and messages.
In the months leading up to the marriage equality referendum in Ireland in 2015, much work was done on identifying target audiences and how best to engage them. Research indicated that the campaign had a strong support base of about 20% of the electorate: these individuals would vote Yes, and the No arguments would not influence that position. There were also about 20% who opposed civil marriage for same-sex couples: they would vote No, and the Yes arguments would not change their minds. That left 60% in the “moveable middle”. These were people whose position or attitude was unclear – they may have had concerns or were apathetic having had no previous engagement on the issue.
The Yes Equality campaign had a clear policy from the outset that it would not engage with or target the 20% opposition group, but would closely monitor their activity.
Their efforts, online and offline, focused entirely on:
- mobilising and motivating the 20% support base to enable them to become agents of change;
- engaging, educating and informing the 60% in the “moveable middle”, who would effectively decide the outcome of the campaign.
The two target audiences comprised different stakeholder groups. The supporter base included: the LGBTI community, groups and organisations; civil society organisations; trade unions; student unions; and political parties. The “moveable middle” consisted of various groups segmented by demographics, how “soft” their support was, or how likely they were to be influenced by the opposition. By mapping the target audiences this way, Yes Equality could proceed with confidence to curate and craft appropriate messages and tactics to target these groups effectively.