Podcasting, adware, RSS feeds, firewall–these terms are all commonly found in blogs, on high-tech web sites, in consumer-focused articles, and in PowerPoint presentations across the globe.
But do readers know what these words mean? According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, many do not.
Here are some statistics gleaned from a U.S. nationwide survey of 1,336 adults, conducted by phone in May and June.
Percentage of people who responded that they "have a good idea what the term means":
Spam – 88%
Firewall – 78%
Spyware – 78%
Internet cookies – 68%
Adware – 52%
Internet "phishing" – 29%
Podcasting – 13%
RSS feeds – 9%
Not surprisingly, significant differences in levels of awareness were noted between men and women and between younger and older adults. For example, these groups have a good idea what the term adware means:
Age 18-29: 55%
Age 65+: 31%
Other responses for each item were "Not really sure what the term means" and "Never heard the term."
What does this information tell us business writers? It’s the age-old advice: Know your audience. If your readers think "phishing" is something one does with a pole and some bait after having one beer too many, they are probably right! Be sure to speak their language.