Five Signs You're Alienating Your Audience

Nick Greene    By under Content Strategy.

angry manWithout a doubt, one of the most important aims of content creation is to establish a connection with one's audience.

Whether you're writing a blog to represent a brand online or simply for your own enjoyment, the content you create needs to resonate with the people you're addressing it to.

If it doesn't, they're going to end up feeling alienated - and as a result, they're going to stop reading.

"Alienating your audience is probably the worst outcome for brand strategizing," writes Business 2 Community's Joshua Speers. "It's the one position that no business wants to find themselves in, but it happens all too often, sometimes completely by accident. The results can be disastrous, no matter how well known a brand."

Granted, Speers is talking about marketing in general here - but his statement rings true if you're looking specifically at content creation, as well. Alienating your audience as a writer is pretty much the worst thing you can do.

Thankfully, it isn't hard to avoid. All you need to do is train yourself to recognize the signs. From there, it's a simple matter of taking action.

You're Acting Like A Salesperson Instead Of A Storyteller

Like it or not, writing is the act of composing a narrative for your audience - when you write, you're telling a story. Know what doesn't make for a good story? A series of shallow, thinly-veiled attempts to sell your brand.

That doesn't just apply to shoving pitches in the middle of a piece, either. According to a recent Kentico Content Marketing Survey, people are put off by sales pitches even if you include them at the end of a piece. There's a very good reason for that.

See, if you're trying to sell something, you aren't being objective. If you aren't being objective, you can't be viewed as an expert on a particular topic. And if you can't be viewed as an expert, well...

People aren't going to want anything to do with you.

The Way You Write Doesn't Fit The People Who Are Reading

I've always maintained the importance of writing the way you speak - people who read my stuff say it feels a lot like I'm in the room with them, narrating my work. But what if the way you speak differs in some way from how your audience speaks? What if you're someone with a tendency to use complex terms, and your audience doesn't understand any of them?


"When you're writing for your brand, think about where your audience lives, how they talk, and whether their day-to-day work environment is more suit-and-tie, hard hats, or board shorts and flip flops," writes American Express Columnist Erika Napoletano. "The same writing style isn't going to appeal to all three. You need to tailor your communication to your audience, right down to the way you present it to them."

Your Content Is Full Of Inaccuracies - And People Are Noticing

If you're going to write on anything even vaguely factual, do your research. I cannot stress this enough. One reason publications like The Washington Post have grown so popular is because they've a reputation for being factually accurate - people understand that when they read them, the information they receive will actually be truthful.

When in doubt, find a reputable site to back up any claims you make in your articles. If you start leaving out too many details, people are going to pick up on that. As a result, they won't trust you.

It's Obvious That Your Readers Are Getting Frustrated

Is the comments section of your blog particularly filled with hatred and bile lately? Are people on social media sharing particularly harsh opinions of your work? Pay attention to what your audience is saying about your work - if there's been a noticeable downturn in positive opinion lately, it could be a clear sign of trouble.

Your Work Is Simply Really, REALLY Difficult To Read

An article can be a rough read for many different reasons. Maybe it's too long, or the website is poorly designed. Maybe it reads like it was written by a first-grader, or it's just one massive wall of text. Either way, it doesn't matter how valuable an article is if people can't read it - make sure you take steps to properly design your website.

Stay Connected

As a content creator, what you say is every bit as important as how you say it. If you're not communicating your message in an adequate fashion - if you're insulting, difficult to understand, or simply out of touch - then you're going to risk alienating your readers. Do that, and you won't have an audience to write to for much longer.

Image credit: Ashish Choudhary