How to get started with data-driven storytelling

Michael Brito

By Michael Brito

April 05, 2018

There is a content and media surplus in the market, and customers have an attention deficit. The delta between the two is not showing signs of slowing down. People can only consume a finite amount of information at any given moment. It’s not by choice — it’s how humans are wired.

People prefer content that tells a story and aligns to their interests. They crave relevance. Tunnel vision is common to filter out unwanted brand messages that offer little value.

To add more complexity, we live in a multi-screen economy where multitasking is a common practice, making it difficult to predict the behavior of customers. 

The only way to reach your audience is with stories that break through the clutter and drive action. This requires a combination of audience intelligence (social data + primary research), creative storytelling, targeted paid media, and integration with public relations efforts.

Social data can drive more impactful content

With data, you can get a clear understanding of what’s top of mind for your customers today, yesterday, or for the last six months, simply by listening to their conversations, tracking their behavior, and identifying which brands they follow online. The data can then springboard to that “universal truth” or insight which can be the foundation for an own-able narrative, resulting in 100% relevance. You can then use primary research to validate and message test that narrative.

Social data can inform media relations

Listening to your audience can reveal what types of stories and publications are important to them. For example, you may learn that your audience is reading and sharing content from local news sites when you thought they preferred other publications. This small detail will help you prioritize your media list and outreach strategy, allowing you to focus on media that you know will reach your target audience. 

Drill down into the data to see what types of content are resonating the most and use that to inform your own bylines, blog posts, and Tweets.

Social data delivers strategic paid media

Audience listening involves monitoring “real people” and their behavior, not a paragraph long Boolean query. They typically leave “digital breadcrumbs” as a part of their daily consumption of content — where they shop, eat, or the brands they follow. These breadcrumbs can be used as inputs to build targeting segments. You can also build custom audiences on Twitter to target the audience that you are monitoring.

Social data informs influencer segmentation and activation

Smart marketing should be built using the 1:9:90 model of influence. The 1% are influencers who create content and drive conversations about a specific topic. The 9% are highly active online. They repackage influencer content, provide their own context, and share it. The 90% are the great majority of any market. They lurk and learn. They rely heavily on search, consuming peer content, and seeking third-party validation. They decide how compelling the 1% and the 9% really are in telling your brand’s story. By segmenting these audiences, you can pull data on each one and craft stories that they will deem to be relevant.

The old adage, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half" is no longer true. Small investments of time and money can be made in using data to better inform your marketing decisions. Whether it's being more strategic with paid media or prioritizing media outreach, data can provide discretion and clarity.

It’s time to take the guesswork out of marketing. Start using social data to make better decisions, tell better stories and reach your audiences in places where they spend their time. Doing so will enable you to break through the clutter and reach your audience with impactful content.

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