The digital age in content and publishing is changing the rules for communicating the pivotal points that authors and businesses want readers to understand. The best process for effectively communicating with readers is data storytelling. It is most frequently referred to as data visualization, but also known as infographics, dashboards, or data presentations.
Data storytelling is the latest trend in advertising and marketing. Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic’s Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals (2015) is a how-to guide for communicating a high impact story. He gives the following guidelines:
* Understand the importance of context and audience
* Determine the appropriate type of graph for your situation
* Recognize and eliminate the clutter clouding your information
* Direct your audience’s attention to the most important parts of your data
* Think like a designer and utilize concepts of design in data visualization
* Leverage the power of storytelling to help your message resonate with your audience
Business and science authors and publishers have been relating data to tell their stories for nearly a century. Digitization is freeing what one Forbes columnist (Brent Dykes, March 31, 2016) calls “tremendous amounts of potential value” by using big data to uncover insights and translate it into actions or business outcomes.
Going one step further, one observer suggests the trend is leading to a field of data journalism, i.e., reporting on the new finds like the impact of vaccines from big data sets. The analyses may uncover and tell impactful, compelling stories from fresh data via infographics, and when told across all social media in visually appealing ways, readers may be more inspired to take actions.
Skills for Data Storytelling
Being able to realize, analyze, and communicate ideas through data visualization is a critical skill in this century. Every financial website, for instance, uses past and present data to tell a story about companies. Data storytelling informs readers about operations of companies, tagging future stock share prices and key financial indicators for the future.
A data storyteller in the twenty-first century needs skills in economics, mathematics, and statistics to complement skills in data analysis, visualization techniques, and communication. Data storytellers must be able to help readers make sense of the depth and breadth of data being mined by effectively relating narrative that effects changes.
A Harvard Business Review writer (Alexandra Samuel, September 14, 2015) cautions businesses about becoming publishers and moving away from the role of advertisers by “launching digital newsrooms [and] podcasts…in order [to]keep their brands, perspectives, and value propositions in front of customers.”
Engaging Means for Data Storytelling
There are many visually appealing ways to use data storytelling:
* Articles and Blog Posts
* Interactive Visualizations
Engaging readers in a company’s story through data storytelling influences them to take actions like make investments, drive leads, and close sales. This has marketers using data storytelling to design marketing strategies beyond creating content. This approach adds to the gravitas of the message because data storytelling is based on facts, not opinion.