In the digital age, so many companies are concerned with collecting data. Many companies are merely collecting data for the sake of saying that they are collecting data. They may even be collecting irrelevant information and not using the data to make inferences about their customers to make logical decisions. On the other hand, some companies are actually using the data to make business decisions,but are still unsure of how to use their data visualizations to tell a story. Many experts of knowledge management would argue that data storytelling is just as important as the data itself.
One organization that uses data storytelling in a compelling way is Spotify. The streaming service continually collects data to customize each users experience. Spotify not only uses information such as demographics and location to generate content for users, but they use the data to also tell users stories about themselves based on how they stream music. Not only does the platform give users insights about how they stream music, they tell stories of how they interact with other platforms in relation to music. For example, last year for Black History Month, Spotify teamed with Instagram to highlight the most liked #BlackGirlMagic Instagram posts featuring the artist from #BlackGirlMagic playlist most associated with each state (see figure 1).
The visualization clearly shows which artist from #BlackGirl Magic playlists were liked the most from each state. There is no guess work involved with this infographic. The visualization designer behind this graphic clearly understood that data should be displayed in a way that the audience can easily interpret and connect with. Danielle Lee, global head of partner solutions at Spotify explains that, “Big data is just that but if you can extract the insights that are going to resonate with different communities, [those] insights are going to allow us to tell stories that haven’t been told before.” (Duran, 2018).
Sifting through all of the noise to pull out the most compelling information and display it in a narrative like way may seem overwhelming at first to many companies and individuals, but stories are memorable. I may not remember all of the information displayed in Spotify’s #BlackGirlMagic infographic if you ask me next year, but I’ll remember that Nicki Minaj and Beyonce dominate the United States for the most streams and post likes.
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