Audience Engagement with media narratives
How can you measure how engaged you were with a media narrative?
It could be about understanding the different codes and conventions in the text and how strongly you reacted to them.
It could be how strongly you related to a character in the narrative or that the themes of the story personally resonated with you.
There are many ways that audience engagement is measured — a very popular way is for audience members to give the film a star rating, or to say if they would recommend it to others or not.
This is now done broadly over social media and can have a huge effect on how the film is viewed by others and also how well the film will do financially.
Audience engagement can be connected to the characteristics and construction of the media narrative.
These are the codes and conventions that the producer has used in interesting ways. It might be such things as the use of the soundtrack, interesting characters or playing with genre conventions.
There are many theories regarding how and why an audience engages with the media.
A common theory in this area is called the Uses and Gratification Theory.
This theory states that audiences choose media products for a specific reason, or need. When choosing a media product to consume, it might be for one of these reasons (PIES):
📢 Needs or Wants that media consumption may meet:
Personal Identity: Audiences could be looking for a media product that aligns with their values or ideologies. The media product aligns with how they understand the world
Information: Audiences could be looking for a media product to learn, find out about relevant events or they could be seeking advice.
Entertainment: Audiences could be using a media product for a diversion — to relax or to fill time.
Social integration: Audiences might be using a media product to help to connect with friends, family or society.
📢 Uses and Gratification Theory
These different reasons for engagement are going to change the ways that an audience may read a media product. It will change the audience expectations of their experience and also change the way they decide if their engagement with the product is successful or not.
If you take someone on a date to the cinema, and they break up with you straight after the movie — you will probably have a negative reaction to that movie.
An important aspect to uses and gratification theory is that the audience has all the power in this relationship — media producers must make a product that meets the demands of their different audiences.
🙋 Answering engagement Q’s
When writing about the audiences engagement with a media narrative, consider these questions:
- How was the narrative generally received? Did it receive positive or negative reviews?
- How is the film’s characteristics and construction connected with it’s audience engagement? Is this connected to the audience’s expectations?
- For what reason is the audience reading the media product? This might link back to the type of target audience they are in.
Audience Consumption of media narratives
How an audience consumes a media narrative can have large effects of how they may engage with and read that media product.
Consumption of media narratives include:
- The medium the narrative is in.
- The technologies used to consume the narrative.
- The environment the narrative is consumed in.
Media producers design products to be consumed in specific ways in order to get the most engagement possible. For example, film-makers usually design films to be consumed in a cinema on a large screen with surround sound, but audiences may end up consuming that film on their phone.
Producer’s may not like it — but audiences have a wide range of choices when consuming media products.
These different types of consumption may change how audiences understand the codes and conventions in the media narrative, or it may also change how they read and understand it.
Audience Reception / Reading of media narratives
How audiences read a media narrative is about their understanding and interpretation of the product.
When looking at different ways a product can be read you are discussing active audience theory.
Active audience theory states that when individuals consume a media product they don’t just blindly believe everything they see, but are intellectually engaging with it.
There is also the social context in which an active audience interprets a media narrative. The audience might discuss with their friends the film they just saw and share what they thought of it, or they might go on social media to do the same.