Storytelling Is A Superpower. Data Is Your Cape

Storytelling Is A Superpower. Data Is Your Cape
November 18, 2015 Ross Lambert

Data is one of the defining characteristics of my career to date.

I’ve told countless stories about how increased data insights enable improved services. I’ve sifted through numerous findings from thought-leadership reports. And without fail, I complete the daily, mundane data entry task of timesheets.

Thankfully, I love data. And I’m not afraid to admit it – from big industry insights down to random sports stats.

It is a powerful tool – as many brands are starting to discover through the services they are delivering – but as storytellers are we using data to our advantage?

As Amy O’Leary from Upworthy outlined at The Walkley Foundation’s recent Storyology event, increasingly online news sites are. By analysing the different ways readers engage with the site – through desktop and mobile – and how long they spend reading each article, the content and its layout is tailored to specific needs.

For example, when scrolling through our Facebook or Twitter feeds how many of us click to read an article because the headline has grabbed our attention. While many of us – and Upworthy in particular – have moved on from the notion of “clickbait”, I guarantee the way the headline is written is built upon data highlighting the best way to drive engagement. After all, visits to news sites’ homepages are down, meaning publications have to find new ways to get readers’ eyeballs on their stories.

For brands increasingly looking to tell stories through owned channels, the business opportunities created by harnessing the value of data gathered from those visiting owned platforms are huge. With the right systems those already creating a range of content, such as regularly posting blogs and videos, could even be benefitting today.

When we read an article on the Sydney Morning Herald, the site knows how long we spend reading each one of its articles, how we were directed to it, and if it compelled us enough to share it.

Imagine what value these types of insights could deliver for brands.

Being able to identify how its content is being discovered and engaged with, brands can tailor its creation to customers’ needs. This approach often results in more engaged and informed customers who are more likely to understand the need for the product and buy it at the end of the process.

Through this data brands have a better understanding of their customers, and if there’s one story I’ve told more than any other in my career it’s that a better understanding of your customers results in a bigger business opportunity.

Embracing data in storytelling is embracing your customers. As brands increasingly look to tell their own stories, data analysis of readers’ habits has a big role to play in ensuring these are far reaching and accessible.

As the creators of this owned content, there’s much we can learn from our journalist friends who are already fine-tuning content creation by crunching the numbers. It will ensure our stories are primed for sharing through social media, of genuine interest to our readers, and accessible. This will help reach new customers – some of who might not even be looking to buy the product we’re showcasing, or even aware of it – and increase brand loyalty and affinity with existing customers.

With brand storytelling and data two of my biggest passions, I can’t help but get excited by and agree with Amy O’Leary’s conclusion.