With every brand out there becoming a publisher, itâs harder than ever to make your content stand out. Each day, you have a choice. You can play it safe and do what everyone else is doing: re-blog the same industry studies and curate uninspired listicles. Or you can be original and craft a story that only you can tell. The good news for most of you: there is content gold right under your nose. If used correctly, this will enable you to create truly compelling content that is not only shareable, but will set you apart from your peers.
The gold is your own data.
This data is often used to inform your business strategies and tactics, such as assessing which headlines performed better or what time of day you should tweet. And while those things are important, weâre talking about a close cousin of those efforts. This is about looking at the data your team has gathered and analyzed, and identifying original insights that you can craft into engaging stories to fuel your content marketing.
Visage, a platform meant to help marketers create branded visual content, conducted a survey of 504 marketers to see just how well they are taking advantage of this opportunity for original data storytelling. 75% of those surveyed are directly responsible for creating content, and 75% work in a company with 10 or less people working in their marketing department. Hereâs what they found out:
1. Everyone is creating a lot of content
Most organizations (73%) publish original content on at least a weekly basis, and many (21%) are publishing content multiple times per day. Most brands are doing this because they know that if you arenât sharing your latest thinking with the digital world (or at least being entertaining), your brand doesnât exist for most people outside of your family.
2. Itâs still not enough
Relatively few modern marketers believe that their organization creates enough original content. The fact is, as anyone who has rescheduled dates on an editorial calendar knows, getting into a publishing rhythm is hard. We can get enamored or overwhelmed by other brands who we see publishing a high volume of content. In such a state, itâs easy for some to play copycat and fall into regurgitating news and curating stories covered by other people. But your real challenge is differentiating from competitors and earning the trust of a potential customer. So, you need to use your limited resources to give yourself a shot for your content to either stand out and be remembered. Otherwise, it will be just one little drop flowing past in the social river.
3. Marketers are sitting on gold
Visageâs survey found that 41% of organizations are doing original market research more than once per year. Conducting a quick survey or poll is one powerful way to create a fresh, original story that hasnât been told before. Start with a small experiment aimed at helping you understand your own market better, and keep your ideal customer profile in mind as you write your questions. The advantage to this approach is that you can structure your data collection and save yourself the time and money associated with cleaning up and organizing outside data. Finally, format your questions to gather the information and answers that you know your audience will find valuable.
4. Marketers arenât using their data to its full potential.
The biggest shocker was that 60% of respondents claim to be sitting on interesting data, but only 18% are publishing it externally. There are many valid reasons to keep your internal data private (eg. security, competitive advantage), but you donât need to take an all-or-nothing approach to this. For example, thereâs a big opportunity to share aggregated trends and behaviors. Spotify does this with their music maps, and OKcupid does this with theirOKTrends blog.
5. They see the opportunity
Brand marketers arenât just hoarding this gold. 82% of companies said it was important or extremely important that their marketing team learn to tell better data stories. You might notice the growing number of situations that require you to communicate with data in your own work, even just in your own internal reports and presentations.
6. The struggle is real
So, if so many marketers are sitting on interesting data and think it is important to craft original stories from it â why isnât it happening? As the survey showed, many marketers donât feel they have the skills or tools to craft the story from their data. Only 34% feel their teams have above average data literacy. Even when the data is cleaned, analyzed and ready to be visualized, modern marketers still have a hard job to do. Your audience needs context, and a strong narrative is a key ingredient of communicating with data. Often, the most successful data stories come as a result of combining powerful talents â the journalist working with a graphic designer, or a content marketer working closely with a data analyst. Get both sides of the brain firing in your content creation, even if you need to combine forces.
7. How to get started
Like any new marketing initiative, success in crafting original data stories as a means of differentiating your brand will take time and money. Start where you are and do what you can, even if it feels microscopic at first. If the prospect of getting rolling with your own data seems overwhelming, get some practice with public data available from credible sources like the Census Bureau or Pew Research. The cool news is that itâs easier than ever to get started with a plethora of great tools and educational material on the web.
Data storytelling is a skill that modern marketers can and must learn. If you are committed to creating original content that makes your brand shine, consider the precious gold insights that are ready to be mined from your data to provide tangible value to your audience.
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