Turning data into stories people can connect with
Data interpretation and data storytelling are key to why social intelligence initiatives succeed. By extracting important insights from data and turning them into stories that people can connect with, it paves the way for your social intelligence initiative to have a measurable business impact.
What makes stories so powerful?
So why are stories so important for your social intelligence efforts? It’s because they’re extremely powerful:
- They focus on what’s important. By identifying the things that are most important to your audience from a sea of data, you can create a connection. You can show you understand what matters to them.
- They communicate more than information. In addition to just telling you facts, they also help you make sense of who your audience is as individuals or as a group.
- Stories are how humans are wired to learn. They help connect data points together in a way that enables us to consume them, assimilate them, and hopefully act on them
- They draw people in and engage them. Stories are a great way of helping people understand what the data is telling them so they can identify with it and eventually act on it.
Understanding what makes a compelling story
To turn data into stories, it’s important to first understand what makes a story compelling in the first place? What elements are essential to tell a story that can have an emotional impact on the audience?
Essentially, a compelling story has four main elements:
Objective – What’s the business question you’re trying to answer? Everything should be centred on this and your data should help to answer this question.
Content – What data do we need to tell the story or answer the business question?
Structure – Data points and ideas should be organised into a coherent story.
Delivery – This focuses on presentation and style – how we’re actually delivering the story.
The 3 principles of data storytelling
To tell a good story using data, there are three principles to follow:
Principle 1 – Data collection: Triangulating your data sets
Where you source your data is a vital consideration. It’s important to cast your net wide, factoring in all the different possible sources available to answer your business question. And it goes beyond just analysing social media posts.
Volume spikes in social signals can direct your thinking and give you an idea of what you should analyse. However, using them alone only tells you just one part of the story and can, therefore, be misleading. It helps to look beyond that and complement your social data with other factors and data sources.
You can look at search, for example, to indicate interest. Plus, it also helps you hear from people who aren’t active on social media or necessarily posting content. External factors such as seasonality, what’s happening in the news, etc. are also crucial to consider.
Principle 2 – Analysis: Use a framework
Using a framework is a great way of sorting the facts out with pre-existing context. There are a lot of frameworks available in all shapes and sizes such as Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Need or the Censydiam motivational framework. Or you can even create a brand-specific framework based on internal values, KPIs, and so on. It’s just a matter of identifying which of these is the right framework to apply for your specific case and eventually use for your data scope.
Principle 3 – Storytelling: The Pyramid Principle
Developed by Barbara Minto, The Pyramid Principle involves laddering up to a key message. Essentially, it involves taking a series of facts or observations and grouping them together based on common themes, patterns, or clusters.
You’ll begin to see that each of those groups has some key learning, argument, or insight. This will help you identify an argument generated from each set of ideas, facts, or observations. From this, you can see a narrative emerging for your story, which will lead to the ultimate conclusion.
Learn to tell great stories
Data storytelling can make or break your social intelligence initiative, which makes it a crucial skill to master. To learn more about using data to tell stories, check out our webinar “More than a soundbite: storytelling using social media data” in partnership with Ipsos.