“Maybe stories are just data with a soul.” - Brené Brown
Unorganised, data is chaotic. Organised and interpreted, it can tell tens of thousands of emotional, impactful, thought-provoking stories.
It just needs to be brought to life in the right way.
Spotify released their annual Wrapped feature recently. The 2019, end-of-a-decade edition pulls data summaries to give users insight into their listening habits.
This is personalised content at its finest.
Your artist of the decade
Your top songs
Your favourite genres
Your total listening time
Users can also share their Wrapped insights on social media, and prove their love for their favourite ‘choons’ and artists - whether it’s Bob Dylan, Backstreet Boys or Billie Eilish.
Music can be such a big part of our personal identity, and so by tapping into people’s personal preferences, Spotify does something truly unique for the listener.
It creates a snapshot of your music taste. It starts conversations, too - and isn’t that what the best marketing does?
The music streaming service has also turned heads with numerous advertising campaigns which bring a twist of humour to user activity...
And, my personal favourite...
Of course, most marketing teams won’t have access to the same rich tapestry of original personal data as big brands like Spotify - I’ll come onto that later in this post.
First, here are three examples of companies using it to tell stories in different ways, creating entertaining, informative, digestible content that ties data to the brand purpose.
Work management platform providers Podio plotted the daily routines of world famous artists, writers and musicians based on the Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals.
The interactive grid gives insight into the habits of creative and successful people who have defined human history, and uncovers some of the weirder routines you’re likely to come across.
Who knew Franz Kafka did most of his creative work between 11pm and 6am?
Hovering over specific time slots also reveals hidden information about each person.
Turns out Wystan Hugh Auden was a big fan of Benzedrine.
The content, while eye-opening at times, makes a clear connection to working habits, time management and productivity. All aspects of life the Podio brand and product try to promote.
“Nikon's opto-electronics technologies let people explore realms beyond the range of the naked eye”. It’s a simple enough statement that summarises the immediate benefit of Nikon’s electron microscopes and astronomical telescopes, but one that also introduces the ‘Universcale’.
This animated, interactive scale puts size into perspective.
Stretching from a single proton to the outer extremities of space, the content does the opposite of David Bowie’s Starman and sets out to blow your mind.
In demonstrating relative size using measurement data, Nikon first get you thinking about how small we really are, and second how powerful their technology must be.
The brand wants you to see the world through a different lens.
And that’s exactly what they achieve here.
The great travel disruptors of the last decade.
Airbnb’s purpose is 'to make people around the world feel like they can “belong anywhere”’. The ‘live like a local’ pioneers want to make the world a smaller, more accessible place for anyone and everyone who loves to travel.
The #OneLessStranger campaign asked 100,000 people to help bring the global community closer together through random acts of kindness.
The result? Thousands of new hosts and first-time guests, and a new world of data the brand was able to harness and visualise through a sweet little video.
The Secret Sauce for Data-Driven Stories
Telling stories with data is something we can all do.
It just takes a little digging.
Earlier this year, we were lucky enough to catch a talk that explored how brands can source and exploit free data to create remarkable and memorable content campaigns.
You probably don’t have 248 million customers, like Spotify.
But - from hashtags, to search engine queries and full blown studies - you do have access to multiple sources that provided an array of publicly available data.
Some of which I’ve listed below:
- Google Trends
- Office for National Statistics
- World Health Organisation
- Amnesty International
- Pew Research Centre
- The Guardian
- Facebook Graphs
- The CIA World Factbook
- Google Finance
- National Climatic Data Centre
The secret sauce here is to identify a realm of conversation that makes total sense when lined up next to your brand. What do you have the right to talk about? What does the data you have available to you tell you about that topic? How can you present it in a unique way?
Brands are built on stories - and in the frenzied online world, where getting yourself heard is the number one challenge, snackable stories are winning.
Those fleeting moments of engagement between brand and user need to work harder - they need to give something new, something eye-opening, something relatable.
With data at its heart, content can leave that lasting mark.