In 2020, the debate is over.
We’ve all bought in and sworn our allegiance to the King of the Internet.
In the Information Age, creating high-quality content is the most effective way to communicate with your customers and market your business.
With so many businesses following this simple mindset, you’d think we’d see more quality in the content that we digest. But it actually seems like the opposite has happened: while quantity has gone up, quality has gone down.
Producing high-quality content is a choice. You can choose to put the time and work into crafting engaging stories and building your brand; or you can take the easy route, making content that’s only so-so.
If you’re serious about your business, the choice is clear. In order to stand out in 2020, your content needs to be better. It has to strike a chord with your target audience.
But here’s the thing: you can’t write content like that off the top of your head. Your content will not be great unless you put in the due diligence, research your topic, and present your findings in a fresh way.
So, what’s the best way to do this? Here’s our proven strategy to write content that sticks.
Tell Your Story With Data
With data visualization, you show your expertise and become the perfect storyteller. Not only will you showcase an organized and well laid-out picture, but you highlight your credibility as well. As your story catches your audience’s attention, it will become shareable in the process.
You can’t go wrong when using data.
- It’s interesting: when data is presented the proper way, it becomes engaging and simple to understand.
- It’s persuasive: with reliable data on your side, you can drive your point home for your audience.
- It’s credible: real data backs up your claims and gives you authority on a topic. This is a must if you want your clients to trust you.
So what’s this process look like? Let’s go through the steps.
1. Collect the Data
Before you do anything, you’ll need a reliable source for your data. Acquiring first-party data is the best way to go, but it’s not always feasible. This first-party data could come from your customers, site visitors or social media followers.
If these avenues don’t work, you can move onto third-party data obtained through a public database. Here are some sites we use all the time for our stories:
- State agency databases
- Government databases
- US Census Bureau
- Google Trends
- Google Scholar
- Google Finance
If you must use an outside source, it needs to be trustworthy. Never pose opinions as facts, and never use data that isn’t based on factual evidence.
2. Find the Story
Start by asking a question and consult the data for your answer. If your answer is something that would interest people, you have a great story. If not, try again.
As you dig around and search for data on a specific topic, you’ll come across a data set that speaks to you. You’ll know when you see it: it’s the type of story that writes itself.
3. Write the Story
Once you have your story, you’re ready to begin “reporting” it. You’ll find that this process might be a bit difficult for some stories, and super easy for others. As you write, keep these tips in mind:
Consider your audience: It does no good to talk about parenting when your audience is a group of single bachelors. Make sure you write in a way that resonates with your target audience.
Consider the level of sophistication: How much does your audience know about your chosen topic? This is important to know—it will make or break your story. If you spend too much time explaining concepts that your audience already knows about, you risk losing readers in the middle of your story. If you skip past details that your audience doesn’t know about, your readers will get confused. Whether your target reader is an expert or a beginner, gear your writing toward their level of understanding.
4. Focus on Visualization
For this approach, data is essential. But if you don’t visualize it, you won’t be able to drive your point home. Consider using a mapping tool like Maptive to provide your audience with the information needed to complete the story.
As you piece the story together, look for additional content that helps you back up the article’s purpose. These climate opinion maps are a perfect example of the value of mapping. Each map leads to a specific statement, so no one can question what the writer is trying to say.
That’s exactly what you want. The only way to persuade your readers is to make it crystal clear what your data means.
5. Craft the Narrative
The information you provide must be factual and objective. Don’t start twisting the data to make your point. You want to be creative, without becoming deceptive. Be yourself and share the data you found in an engaging and thought-provoking way.
Your should also be careful not to censor any of the information you find. Become a dependable and trustworthy source by showcasing the entire picture.
6. Receive Feedback
You can put all of the information out there, but it might be best to start with a friend or work colleague. Allowing someone to look at it first helps you to correct errors and gain an understanding of the first impressions that your content will make.
Be willing to listen to the feedback and make changes where necessary.
Change Everything with a Story
There’s no way to tell how much attention your content will get. However, with a knowledgeable and data-based approach, you have a much better chance at earning the attention you deserve.
So there’s the secret. If you can consistently churn out thoughtful, high-quality content loaded with real data and insights, your audience will grow in 2020. Of course, this approach takes time and effort; but it will be well-spent.
Another added benefit in taking this approach is that, as you keep going, producing content will get easier for you. So if it seems difficult at first, stick with it!
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start writing.