This text initially appeared on Column Five.

Knowledge visualization, massive information, model storytelling—you’ve in all probability heard these phrases, and also you’re more likely to hear them increasingly more within the advertising sphere. (In 2016, LinkedIn discovered that the #2 most desirable hiring skill is statistical evaluation and information mining.) Knowledge is in every single place, nevertheless it’s what we do with that information, what insights we faucet into that make it so invaluable. And that’s basically why information storytelling is so necessary.


Opposite to in style perception, information storytelling isn’t merely information visualization, analytics reporting, or a handful of stats sitting in a PowerPoint someplace. Knowledge storytelling is the mixing of two worlds: arduous information and human communication. It’s a compelling narrative crafted round and anchored by compelling information.

Sadly, though information storytelling is a crucial instrument, most corporations don’t take full benefit. This is actually because their groups are siloed.

The info reporting/evaluation that many corporations undertake seldom makes it into entrepreneurs’ fingers. Even when it does, entrepreneurs are oftentimes ill-equipped to work via the information to unearth nice tales. This ends in an incredible quantity of invaluable information unused, which is a tragedy as a result of information storytelling is a some of the highly effective communication instruments for manufacturers.


There are various forms of communication, however information storytelling is uniquely positioned (and scientifically supported) to assist entrepreneurs obtain their communication objectives in some ways.


In a world the place we’re besieged by information however determined for that means, information storytelling helps join the dots. It’s an extremely efficient option to talk invaluable insights and assign that means and context to information that in any other case lives as numbers in an Excel spreadsheet. For manufacturers, that is essential.

Audiences crave helpful, invaluable content material that expands their data, solves their issues, and helps them higher navigate the world. By delivering this content material, your model supplies an actual service to your viewers. And by extracting these insights from your individual information, your organization advantages, too.

Dave Campbell’s mannequin of knowledge refinement.

All content material is interpreted as information by the mind, however the highest-value content material supplies greater than data; it supplies perception. This perception helps decision-making, spurns motion, and is due to this fact probably the most significant. Knowledge storytelling permits us to extract and talk perception via compelling tales.


To distinguish your self from the competitors, you want distinctive, unique story concepts. Knowledge is a simple option to get these tales. That is very true for tales primarily based on inside information. When you’ve proprietary information that no different model has entry to, you may inform a narrative that nobody else can inform about your trade, your clients, and extra.

These insights will help you make clear a beforehand unexplored matter, introduce an attention-grabbing angle, or present helpful perspective to your viewers and/or trade.

Not solely are these tales compelling to your viewers, publishers are additionally hungry for nice storytelling. In a world of regurgitated content material, information storytelling helps you stand out above the noise. An incredible piece revealed in a high-profile publication can elevate your model and introduce you to a wholly new viewers. (For extra on that, try our tips about how to get publishers to fall in love with your content.)

The Knowledge Tales That Manufacturers Ought to Inform


There’s plenty of content material on the market—and a lot of it is bullshit (particularly nowadays). In a world stuffed with conjecture, audiences need chilly, arduous numbers that anchor claims to actuality. Should you can anchor your story to credible information, audiences are extra inclined to belief each your message and your model.


By mixing narrative and visuals, you might be successfully concentrating on each side of the mind, cementing the knowledge. The narrative guides you thru the information, and the information helps the narrative, supplying you with one of the best of each the analytical and emotional expertise. Knowledge visualization is especially highly effective right here as a result of it will increase:

  • Comprehension: Our brains are hardwired to course of visuals quicker than language. With the ability to “see” the information makes it a lot simpler to know. Coupled with the language-based context, the information involves life.
  • Retention: Info visually processed makes it simpler to recall later.
  • Attraction: Knowledge visualization is visually stimulating, making the content material extra engaging to your viewers.

Watch this movement graphic to be taught extra concerning the energy of information visualization.

[vimeo 29684853 w=700 h=394]


Along with the inherent stimulation that visualization supplies, information storytelling additionally encourages the viewers to have interaction within the storytelling. There are two forms of information storytelling: narrative and explorative. Each foster engagement however permit the viewer to take completely different approaches.

Narrative: The viewers is guided via a story to reach at a particular conclusion.

Instance: The Anatomy of a Breach interactive infographic we created for Microsoft guides readers via an information heist, anchored by information, to point out how prevalent breaches are.

Explorative: The viewers is inspired to discover the information to attract their very own conclusions and give attention to the tales most related to them.

Instance: We turned the outcomes of Northwestern College in Qatar’s Media Use within the Center East survey into an interactive infographic expertise that allowed customers to discover the information at will.

Though explorative storytelling requires extra exercise than narrative, each types of information storytelling require the viewers to actively view and synthesize the information.


The insights gained from information tales may be communicated in many various codecs, together with:

An attention-grabbing stat or information visualization can be repurposed to boost different forms of content material or used for social.


Should you haven’t pursued information storytelling earlier than, all of it begins with nice information. Fortunately, there are a lot of methods to get your fingers on it.

Inner: The very best, most unique tales come from your individual information. If you end up targeted on creating content material advertising to construct your model and enhance visibility, proprietary information is vital.

Plus, you have already got a wealth of information in your group, together with:

  • Analytics
  • Buyer information
  • Experiences
  • Surveys
  • And many others.

Exterior: The Web is stuffed with unbelievable information from many credible organizations that possible have extra assets than you. For content material advertising tailor-made to your viewers’s ache factors or pursuits, these may be invaluable sources to construct information tales round (or use to assist your inside information). Examples of those sources embody:

  • Authorities companies
  • Analysis corporations
  • Trade organizations/publications

You too can try our roundup of 104 free data sources.


Knowledge storytelling might sound intimidating, and for individuals who come from a decidedly non-mathematical background, it might look like a international language. However entrepreneurs can really be simplest at bringing information tales to life.

Analysts and statisticians have unbelievable technical talent, however relating to the human aspect, they typically discover it troublesome to successfully translate all these information factors into an attention-grabbing story.

Entrepreneurs know who their viewers is, so it’s simpler to translate that information right into a language they perceive. Should you’re diving into information storytelling, these are sure components that can guarantee it succeeds.


Nice information storytelling wants an attention-grabbing story. Whereas information can actually give a boring topic an attention-grabbing spin, be sure it’s one thing that’s related or attention-grabbing to your target market. Take into account that information storytelling isn’t a narrative about numbers; it’s about how these numbers have an effect on people.

Typically you might need a narrative thought and have to assess the information to see if it has legs. Different occasions you would possibly discover nice insights in a strong information set and construct your story from there.


Knowledge storytelling builds belief, however solely when it’s primarily based on strong information. Knowledge can simply be manipulated, misrepresented, or misinterpreted, so having a strong, non-biased supply is extremely necessary.

Learn our 5 tips for sourcing your data to be sure to comply with greatest practices.


Good information alone doesn’t make an excellent information story. Knowledge storytelling is simply efficient when it supplies worth to your viewers, whether or not it teaches them one thing new, offers them a brand new perspective, or evokes them to take motion.

The way in which you ship that story determines whether or not that message is communicated. Your narrative ought to information readers via, present context, and assist them synthesize the information story as successfully as attainable.

For extra storytelling ideas, discover out how to craft an effective narrative.


The most effective methods to sabotage your information storytelling is with incorrectly or ill-designed information visualizations. Knowledge visualization is supposed to make the information as straightforward to know as attainable, which is why it’s necessary to work with a designer who understands greatest practices.

Should you want a refresher, discover out how to design the most common charts and graphs and discover out what makes a data visualization memorable.


Probably the most progressive content material entrepreneurs will be taught to grasp this medium, nevertheless it takes experimentation to start out. Knowledge storytelling will solely turn into extra prevalent, so it’s in your greatest curiosity to turn into as data-literate as attainable, keep updated on content material advertising greatest practices, and be taught to turn into a real storyteller.

To get you heading in the right direction, you would possibly wish to:

Within the meantime, all the time be looking out on your greatest information tales.

Need assistance creating highly effective branded content material? Let Column Five hook you up.

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