Alexandra Donlin

Data is All Around Us

Photo Source: Forbes

When reading a popular website such as BuzzFeed, you might not think of the data and analytics that goes into it. This is actually how big websites and publications can keep track of their engagement and what is truly successful for them.

In an article on Fast Company  highlighting an interview with BuzzFeed publisher Dao Nguyen, she explains that data won’t tell you why something succeeded or failed but rather it can tell you what happened to make it do the way it did. However, you can’t solely rely on data or anything else for that matter. It’s important to utilize comments, engagement AND the data.

But data isn’t just important to companies or people working on the back-ends of websites.

In an article from Forbes, author Glen Tullman suggests big data isn’t all that important anymore, it’s more about small insights but both still have to somehow coincide with each other. “When we’re able to use big data to make decisions smaller, we can give individual consumers exactly what they want, when they want it,” Tullman writes.

An example he gives is the music-streaming site, Pandora. Pandora randomly selects songs based upon consumers’ tastes in music. Since there are so many songs in the world, it cuts the overwhelming power of choosing between 300,000 or 400,000 songs out. You don’t have to worry about anything since the website did it for you.

“All the data is simplified into exactly what you’re looking for without any effort on your part —  it just happens automatically or ‘automagically,'” Tullman said.

When making everything simple to the consumer, you will likely get more engagement on your website or other digital project. “The most successful companies have simplified their interfaces to make them so smart that anyone could use them,” Tullman said.

Tullman also suggests that pretty soon, data could be helping us make decisions in our every day lives with how everything is shifting. Such careers as physicians and teachers will rely on data to get information out to their clients and students, respectively.

However, data is more complicated than just a random song being chosen for you or a website that can be easily accessed. “The reality is that things are more nuanced than you would like them to be, and more complicated than you would like them to be,” Nguyen said.

A lot of data sourcing has to do with tracking insights or engagement on social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. By tracking posts, what they generate, you can assess when the best time to post would be or even what the best page to post something on. Nguyen said that BuzzFeed has 90 Facebook pages and sometimes they’ll compare the same content on different pages to see what pages are garnering the most engagement.

“…a lot of it is based on good content,” Nguyen said.

Along with being good, content should also be personal and easy. If you have small information that has been transformed from large data and it’s easy to read or access, you are likely to have people continuously come back to read your stories or use your products.

Who knows? Maybe data usage could even change the world one day.


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