Companies are addicted to data because it helps in the development of profitable business opportunities. However, sometimes that’s not the case because those who spend time gathering data have a tendency to want to show ALL of it (Forgetting the story they are trying to tell). Storytelling and data visualization go together: A story explains the data and the visualization fact checks that data story. When correctly used a data visualization can provide context, draw attention to key insights and lead to action. Storytelling on the other hand is the questions and decisions that can be derived using the respective visualizations. For example,
- What are you trying to achieve with the data you choose to display?
- Who is your audience? What do they care about? What level of data will they understand?
- What is the BIG picture?
Much of Spotify’s success has been fueled by data and analytics (Mixson). One of the good examples of using data visualization to tell a story is Spotify Wrapped. Spotify Wrapped has been around for over a decade allowing users to view personal music listening habits. Initially, you were able to view this visualization in December (end of the year), but now with Spotify’s option to export personal data and free visualization tools: it has become easier to view and analyze that data year around. Spotify can spot emerging user patterns in real-time and develop new features or services to capitalize on them by gathering and analyzing huge amounts of listener data. Using the data, they collect and giving meaning to it gives Spotify a major competitive advantage. Spotify can turn historical listening data into tailored playlists and song suggestions using machine learning (ML) techniques, natural language processing (NLP), and convolutional neural networks (CNN). Not only are they providing value to their users with their Wrapped campaign, but they’ve turned it into an event that listeners look forward to all year. This translates into more streams and more engagement with the platforms.
Another example of good data visualization and storytelling is Apple’s Health App which collects the data using an Apple Watch. The app and watch both displays this health data lie trends, goals, heart rate graphs, etc. that are easy to interpret. It does a great job of representing each set of health data separately using appropriate visualizations.
A good visualization should convey the story of your data and show your target audience the bigger picture in just a few short minutes. It should hold the audience captive whether they agree or disagree with your point of view.
Mixson, E. (2021, March 19). How Spotify uses data to keep you listening. AI, Data & Analytics Network.
Presentation-Company. (2018, November 2). The Ultimate Guide: Data Visualization vs. storytelling with data. TPC Blog – Award-Winning Training & Coaching.