Blogging is a form of communication. You write a blog post, put it on your site, and your audience reads it. And hopefully, they comment on it. You’ve sent a message, and your readers have received it.
But have you ever thought about the process of communicating a message to your audience? And what could happen to interfere with that process? Communication is a process, and no matter what medium you’re using, the process is the same.
How does the communication process between the blog writer and the reader work? It’s a circular, interactive process with several steps. Here is a picture of the model, then I’ll explain it below:
- Communication begins with the source, which is the party sending the message.
- The message is encoded into some form that can be interpreted, such as words, audio or video. The message is then sent through a channel, such as newspapers, radio, television or the Internet.
- Then the message is decoded on the other side of the medium when the receiver interprets the message and assigns meaning to it.
- The receiver is the person on the other end receiving the message. The receiver may respond to the message in some way.
- The receiver can also give feedback to the sender. This happens when the receiver contacts the sender and either praises or complains. Feedback allows the sender to monitor the effectiveness of the message.
- Noise can occur at any step in this process and interfere with the process.
Now, let’s apply this general communication model to a blog. We can think of the model in three parts. The first part involves the source and the message. In the case of a blog, the source is the person who writes the blog post. I’ll bet you didn’t think you were doing something fancy like “encoding” when you wrote your blog posts, did you? But that’s simply what encoding means: putting the message into some form an audience can understand. The blog is also your channel, or how your message is sent to your readers.
Then we get to the second part of the model, where the receiver, who is your reader, gets involved. The reader comes to your channel – your blog. Just as you encoded the message, your reader now decodes it. This just means they read it, think about it and interpret it. And you hope they understand it.
At this point, we move into the third part of the model, where the audience gives feedback to the source. On a blog, the reader may respond by commenting or sharing on social media. This is great feedback for a blog author. Even negative feedback is good feedback. That means someone cares enough about what you write to take the time to respond. If you track your Google analytics, your statistics such as time on site, number of pages visited and bounce rate are a form of feedback. These numbers tell you how many people are staying to interact with your message and how many are simply bouncing away.
At any point in the communications process, noise can interfere with a message or cause a distraction. It can be external and physical. For example, I have music playing in the background while I work. (At the moment, “Dream On” by Aerosmith is playing.) Sometimes, it can be distracting and I have to change it. Think of other noises, such as an airplane overhead, the air conditioner, or a neighbor’s lawn mower. I also have three cats, who like to jump in my lap while I work. Or walk across my keyboard. Or decide to wrestle and play while I’m writing.
I’ve given some fun examples of external noise, but noise can also be internal. Grammar, spelling or punctuation errors in a blog post can cause readers to shake their heads and click away from your post. That’s the noise of a poorly focused or unclear message. Noise can also happen when a blog post is stuck in the clutter of lot of other messages, which occurs way too easily on the crowded Internet.
Noise can also be in the reader’s head. The reader may be distracted by other things, whether they want to enjoy your blog post or not. How many times have you been reading something and thought, “I want to enjoy this, but I just can’t focus on it. I’ll come back to it later”?
Previous communication models depicted a linear process, but then theorists realized it was too simplistic. They constructed the circular model we’re looking at today. This model adds two elements to our understanding of communication. First, audiences of today aren’t passive. They respond to sources. Most often, that happens through social media. Second, sources and audiences are affected by their situation or context.
Now, we view communication as a transaction. The previous linear models didn’t account for the simultaneous nature of communication. Sources and audiences constantly send and receive verbal and nonverbal messages back and forth.
Communication across any medium today is a two-way process. For the blogger, the sending and feedback may be more direct than with a larger media channel, such as a TV or radio station. But the process is still the same. Keeping the communication model in mind when you write a blog post and respond to comments will help you understand and improve your communication with your audience.
Readers, have you thought about how you communicate with your audience? How will this model help you? Let us know in the comments!