Part 3: Planning messages

3.7 Audience demographics

There are social and economic characteristics that can influence how someone behaves as an individual. Standard demographic variables include a person’s age, gender, family status, education, occupation, income, and ethnicity. Each of these variables or characteristics can provide clues about how a person might respond to a message.

For example, people of different ages consume (use) media and social media differently. According to the Pew Research Center (2018), 81% of people aged 18-29 use Facebook, 64% use Instagram, and 40% use Twitter. In contrast, 65% of people aged 50-64 use Facebook, 21% use Instagram, and 19% use Twitter (Pew Research Center, 2018). If I were trying to market my product to those aged 50-64, I would likely reach a larger audience (and potentially make more sales) if I used targeted ads on Facebook rather than recruiting brand ambassadors on Instagram. Knowing the age (or ages) of your audience(s) can help inform what channels you use to send your message. It can also help you determine the best way to structure and tailor your message to meet specific audience characteristics.


Pew Research Center. (2018). Social media fact sheet. Retrieved from


This chapter contains material taken from Chapter 4.5 “Audience segments: Demographics” in Information Strategies for Communicators by K. Hansen and N. Paul and is used under CC-BY 4.0 International license.


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Introduction to Professional Communications Copyright © 2018 by Melissa Ashman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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