Creating stories that capture the hearts and minds of your audience can no doubt be challenging from time to time. Let me ask you this: how much more compelling would your brand storytelling be if data were the focus of your content strategy?

Do you really know what your readers find valuable, particularly as it relates to the issues and problems they face? If content marketing is key to your strategy, think about how you can use publicly available data in the same the way journalists do to brand your content and offer new angles, insights, and more value to stories that affect people’s lives.

One way for brands to increase content credibility is to introduce trustworthy third-party data as part of their stories. Credible stories are rooted in something that’s real, not just your ideas. So for example data, research and numbers can be the foundation of the story, while your ideas and opinions add perspective to the story.

So how can your brand learn to create data-driven stories? Here is a four-point process for brand storytelling to help you get started:

#1. Keep your audience top of mind

Great data-driven stories start with great questions — specifically, questions that are relevant to your audience and customers, such as what are their nagging questions, or what are their greatest business challenges? If the questions you come up with have quantifiable dimension, chances are they will make for a good data-driven story.

#2. Find the data

Once you have defined a question on which to base your content, you need to determine the available data records you can incorporate to answer that question. To do this, you will need to think about the process you will use to collect, filter, and visualize data in order to create deeper insights that will inform your story.

#3. Always vet your data source

Don’t forget that the goal of using data is to increase your content credibility and to validate your brand’s storytelling. It should go without saying but please, please, please make sure that the source of your data is also credible – and credit our source.

#4. Choose a visual representation 

Strong visual content can reinforce the message especially for our attention-deficient generation. Remember that the more interesting the visualization, the more time and attention consumers will give it. That said, be sure to keep your visualizations simple — you don’t want to make your audience have to work hard to figure what your graph, etc. is all about.

It really comes down to how you shape your story. Using data is about adding as much value to your content as possible. It’s about saying something that hasn’t been said before. Think original and be sure to add a unique and meaningful perspective.

Over to you: Has your organization experimented with data-driven stories? What approach did you take? What results did you achieve? Please share your ideas in the comment box below.

Your unique brand story can set you apart from your competition. Stand out and engage your audience.