Focusing on Small Data to Tell Your Marketing Stories

These days, big data is big business.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) recently projected that by 2018, the global Big Data industry will be worth over $40 billion.

In the real world, however, small to medium-size businesses and entrepreneurs are finding it a challenge to work with the enterprise-level tools that most big data platforms require for success. They don’t have the resources required to use these platforms, or sources from which they can obtain the massive amount of information required for successful use of big data.

Big data is always going to have value, and even if smaller organizations aren’t working with the specific tools that enterprises are using, they can still benefit from data on a smaller scale. This small data is what opens the door for entrepreneurs and marketers to gain footing in their industries, because it allows them to do a better job of storytelling.


The Connection Between Small Data and Storytelling

In a recent Forbes article by Mike Kavis, small data was defined as a dataset with very specific attributes that tells us about a current state or condition. This is a much different idea than big data, which is focused on giving organizations a high-level view of historical trends and patterns. Small data tells us what is happening right at this second: big data tells us what has happened over the last six months.

Kavis goes on to elaborate on how small data can be used in the Internet of Things. But for marketers, small data is important because of its connection to one of, if not the most important principles of marketing: storytelling.

Dr. Howard Gardner, the Harvard University researcher and psychologist who invented the theory of multiple intelligences, once called stories “the most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.” For marketers, storytelling is how we connect with our audience. It is how we establish ourselves as a unique voice in an era when our prospects are bombarded with more messages than ever before.

A marketer that can tell the right story is one that can find success with their efforts.

Small Data Tools to Influence Storytelling

The connection between small data and storytelling that we have established creates a new question: how do we obtain these smaller data sets that will give us a more intimate look at our prospects?

Fortunately for today’s marketers, there are many tools available that can help them better understand this data. One excellent tool for this is IBM’s Watson Analytics platform. Understanding the connection between data and stories, IBM wisely decided to divide up its analytics platforms based on stories in different departments: marketing, sales, IT, operations, and so on. By positioning their data analytics in this way, IBM spells out the important connection between storytelling and data.

Little Bird is another tool that helps marketers make the connection between data and stories. With Little Bird, users can see a visual representation of spheres of influence on social media platforms including Facebook and LinkedIn. Major organizations like Comcast and Cisco are already using Little Bird in their marketing efforts.

Why? Because Little Bird provides us with an easy way to see how data relates to relevant stories. Using charts and infographics, a Little Bird user can see who is talking about a specific topic, which communities they belong to, and how much influence they have in their community.

The bottom line is that small data is more applicable to marketers, because it portrays a specific condition. It tells us how our audience is feeling at any given time, what they are concerned about, and what they are looking for in the brands that they do business with. The best marketers are the ones who can understand these needs and craft a story that speaks to them: these are the marketers who will continue to lead the way and drive influence, no matter how sophisticated big data gets in the future.


One thought on “Focusing on Small Data to Tell Your Marketing Stories”

  1. While I agree mostly with the principles of “real time storytelling” it feels like we’re saying that marketing needs a “smaller dose” of data. It pains me when I see companies trying to make marketing “special” chalk their processes up as special. A good marketer should be able to parse out the data necessary. The equivalent of the pink tool box given to the little girl.

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