How To Best Use Data for Storytelling and Content Marketing

In this article I explain how creative strategists like myself can help companies utilize their own data for use in content marketing campaigns or evergreen website content. I review some of the formulas which underlie most of the viral content shared on social media and outline with an examples how it is that data can also be used for evergreen content.

I don’t, however, go into detail why data based content is so important for today’s companies.

Turning Data into Narrative and The Most Viral Content Marketing Structures

Content marketing is both an art and a science.

Its designation as a science stems from being able to obtain and determine the significance of information from a single or multiple sets of data in a methodologically sound manner as well as being able to then track its effects online to determine ROI. This is why the best content marketers often work in conjunction with growth hackers.

Its designation as an art comes from that fact that once a number of these particular findings are uncovered in data, they must then be placed in a narrative structure with aesthetically pleasing components (infographics, gifs, videos, etc.) that is compelling enough to hook and hold the attention of a reader. This is why the best content marketers often work in conjunction with a team able to properly promote campaigns.

Examples of Successful Content Marketing Narrative Structures

Surveys and internal data that use demographic information to tell engaging stories is that which is most likely to be picked up by media outlets and shared on social media.

There are, however, a finite number of ways that such data can be presented and not all of them are equal in the value they bring. Those that exhibit certain traits have a higher tendency to become viral.

Here is a non-comprehensive list of some of the narrative constructions most likely to be shared:

  • People who do X are more likely to to be Y.
  • Having X attribute (big butt) means you are more Y (smart/stupid).
  • X% of children in Y birth order are more Z% than their siblings.
  • Doing X (glass of red wine) easy thing = Y (one hour of exercise)
  • X study confirms Y thing (that everyone already agreed about — such as dogs are better company than people)
  • Being X “good thing” (religious) means you are more Y (bad thing) (mean)
  • People who do X on social media (post selfies) are more likely to be Y (narcissistic)
  • People with X “bad” personality trait (Loner) are Y “good attribute” (more intelligent)
  • Doing X regularly (meditating) correlates with Y (happier life)
  • X type of person (Women) need more Y (sleep) than opposite type of person (men)
  • People who do X (brag) thing to get Y (praise) reaction, actually are the Z (opposite – insecure)
  • X% (high percentage) of Y (common demographic) group admit to Z (taboo thing)

The Psychology Behind People’s Curiosity

It’s possible to go into great depth on the variety of emotional responses and how they are likely to affect various reader personas, so for now an analogy will do. Chances are at some time you’ve been out somewhere in public and heard someone call out your name. If so, you probably can recall the feeling of sudden alertness you get. Where did that sound come from? Who said that? What message do they have for me now that they’ve captured my attention?

The social media equivalent to this is seeing a headline with one or more demographic qualities featured in it that relates to you or someone you care about. You want to know this new bit of information about people like you or something that interests you.

Using Survey and Internal Data For Content Marketing

Depending on the business, oftentimes the data required to tell a good story is already stored in a Customer Relations Management (CR) database or something similar. Depending on their willingness to publish this information, this can be a great means for producing content marketing with original research. Here’s an example:

A company like BeachBody could potentially use their clients data to illustrate possible differences in likelihood of starting and completing a particular workout program by age, weight or current level of physical fitness. This would be a great piece of evergreen, potentially live updating, marketing content as it would show subscribers the attrition rate for all the programs based on those demographics.

By informing those that might be new to their services that certain exercise programs are more appropriate for people at higher level of fitness, it could help them to lower the monthly cancelation rate as people can now visualize how others have handled their programs and realize that they might need to choose an easier one.

For survey based content marketing campaigns, wherein new data is created through services such as Survey Monkey, including demographic questions is the key for turning raw data into narrative. As you can include a variety of questions that have previously been peer-reviewed and tested to show a number of psychological qualities, surveys typically allow for much more complex data to be parsed that that normally collected by companies.

Why You Should Hire Ariel Sheen to Develop a Content Marketing Plan Using Your Company’s Internal Data; Existent Data or New Data

As presenting misunderstood or misinterpreted data can damage a company’s reputation, it is imperative that at each stage of research and production all findings are fact checked for quality assurance. Thanks to my academic training and content marketing experience, I am uniquely qualified to produce SEO-optimized, original, viral or evergreen marketing content that follows best production processes.

If your business is ready to incorporate content marketing projects that uses internal data, existent data or newly created data as part of your digital media fingerprint, then contact me and together we can craft a statement of work that helps you to achieve your marketing goals.