Data Analytics: Using Data to Tell Your Story


Data analytics aren’t just for business decisions. Transformed into data storytelling,your numbers can help you connect with your community.

Learn more about ACTIVE Net Insights, THE data storytelling foundation for recreation management.

Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Everyday in your work, you’re not only thinking about the requirements of your business, but you’re also thinking about how you can make the most significant difference for the communities you serve. You’re changing lives every day and it’s why you do what you do.

But how do you help others get on board with your mission? Whether it’s a fundraising, membership, engagement or marketing need, data storytelling may be your answer. This is not just another marketing buzzword. Data storytelling is a tried and true engagement strategy.

What is Data Storytelling?

According to a recent article in Forbes, data storytelling is defined as “a structured approach for communicating data insights, and it involves a combination of three key elements: data, visuals, and narrative.”

We use stories to give insight into the emotional side of our business – why our work matters. While customers may think they base their buying decisions on logic and reason, the fact is, without emotion, decisions are much more difficult to make. And while infographics and dashboards have their place, data storytelling is so much more. When you package up your insights as a data story, you build a bridge for your data to the influential, emotional side of the brain.

Data + Narrative + Visuals: Who’s Doing it Well?

The key is combining data plus narrative to explain to your audience what’s happening in the numbers and why it’s important. Adding visuals only enlightens the insights, highlighting things that might be difficult to see otherwise.

Consider the website for Flex Watches as a good example of data storytelling for a product.

  • A short introductory video tells the story of the company and their mission (narrative)
  • Meaningful images illustrate how they’re giving back (visuals).
  • On the top right corner, a reader can see a “Raised to Donate” tally.
  • Their tagline, “10 colors, 10 charities, 10%” captures it all in just a few words.

For an example of a data “deep-dive” that effectively communicates a story, check out Bloomberg’s super-cool piece, “What’s Really Warming the Earth?”. Here you’ll see narrative paired with intriguing questions, interactive charts and short bursts of persuasive information. 

Ways You Can Incorporate More Storytelling in Your Numbers:

  • Member/Client success stories
  • Interviews
  • Slideshares that build a story or case, click-by-click
  • Interactive websites
  • Meaningful pictures and imagery

To tell the story you are meant to tell, you have to know your numbers first. How will you share your story? ACTIVE Net Insights can help you harness the power of your numbers in order to communicate what matters. Find out more here.