November 30, 2014 by
If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. – Peter Drucker
This succinct truth says you can’t know whether you are reaching your goal unless success is defined and tracked. Data visualization is technology that lets corporate executives and other end users see data to better understand information in context.
Hundreds of tools are now available to chart, create dashboards and better measure and mange data. They range in price from open source to thousands of dollars per year. They range is sophistication from “drag and drop,” plug-ins and widgets to java script that is likely to involve a web developer.
The growth of data visualization says a mix of data and narrative is now a better way for businesses to tell their story.
Which tools are best to tell your story? While price and software sophistication play a role, the more important criteria are:
- How you define success?
- What measures are most important to manage?
Once you’ve answered these questions, here are 14 of the best data visualization tools. They are grouped by categories to help you be a better storyteller with data.
PIE, LINE AND BAR CHARTS
- COLOR BREWER: Originally designed with federal funding and developed at Penn State — is really for choosing map colors, and is worth spending some time with if plan to make many more. You can choose your base color and get the codes for the entire palette.
- EXHIBIT: Developed by MIT, and fully open-source, Exhibit makes it easy to create interactive maps, and other data-based visualizations that are orientated towards teaching or static/historical based data sets, such as flags pinned to countries, or birth-places of famous people.
- INSTANT ATLAS: enables information analysts and researchers to create highly-interactive dynamic and profile reports that combine statistics and map data to improve data visualization, enhance communication, and engage people in more informed decision making
- TIMELINE: Is a fantastic widget which renders a beautiful interactive timeline that responds to the user’s mouse, making it easy to create advanced timelines that convey a lot of information in a compressed space. Each element can be clicked to reveal more in-depth information, making this a great way to give a big-picture view while still providing full detail.
- HERE IS TODAY: is a great example of an interactive timeline which continues to zoom out to give relative times all based on today. It seems simple, but is an example of several good aspects of data visualization design. It compares today with a month, then a year, then century, etc. It isn’t overwhelming the reader with all the data at once, or forcing the person to choose only one interpretation.
- TIMEFLOW: Allows you to create time-based diagrams easily and quickly. Designed for journalists, it allows for a variety of different ways to visualise the data and help you understand any underlying trends.
- VISUAL.LY: Is a combined gallery and infographic generation tool. It offers a simple toolset for building stunning data representations, as well as a platform to share your creations. This goes beyond pure data visualisation, but if you want to create something that stands on its own, it’s a fantastic resource and an info-junkie’s dream come true.
- PIKTOCHART; Is a web-based tool that has good free themes and a whole bunch more for the paid version) for creating simple visualizations. You can drag and drop different shapes and images, and there is quite a bit of customization available. You can also add simple line, bar, and pie charts using data from CSV (or manual entry). The invfographic in our previous blog, 6 more studies prove Digital Marketing ROI was created with Piktochart.
- GOOGLE CHARTS: The seminal charting solution for much of the web, Google Charts is highly flexible and has an excellent set of developer tools behind it. It’s an especially useful tool for specialist visualizations such as geocharts and gauges, and it also includes built-in animation and user interaction controls.
- NVD3: Is a library meant for reuse. The project takes all the power of D3 and distills them down into common chart types. I really like this idea because it gives you constrains and prevents you from running wild with different designs, while at the same time making the code much easier and more approachable if you are just getting started in data visualization.
- TABLEAU: Places great emphasis on the ability to create visualizations without the need for any technical skills (scripting). and has a relatively easy to use interface. As with other products of this nature its utility is firmly anchored in visual exploration of data using every format imaginable. It is not a data mining tool or a text analytics tool, but sits in the traditional business intelligence camp, albeit with a rich visual interface.
BarnRaisers are big believers in the wisdom of Peter Drucker and practitioners in data visualization. Let us show you how we use them to better tell the s story of your business and achieve your goals.
Which of these 14 tools are of interest to you? Do they convince you of the power of data visualization? Do you want to use them better tell the story of your business?
November 11, 2014 by
A Brand Community is “a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand.” This is according to Albert Muniz Jr. and Thomas C. O’Guinn who coined the term in 2001 with their study on Brand Community for the Journal of Consumer Research.
Muniz and O’Guinn said Brand Communities exhibit three traditional markers of community:
- Shared consciousness
- Rituals and traditions
- A sense of moral responsibility
Although it would be easy to see how a lot of brands would jump on this bandwagon, the Harvard Business Review said in, Getting Brand Communities Right, it’s not so easy. There are Myths vs Realities about Brand Communities.
- MYTH #1 :A brand community is a marketing strategy
- THE REALITY: A brand community is a business strategy
- MYTH #2: A brand community exists to serve the business
- THE REALITY: A brand community exists to serve the people in it
- MYTH #3: Build the brand, and the community will follow
- THE REALITY: Engineer the community, and the brand will be strong
- MYTH #4: Brand communities should be love-fests for faithful brand advocates
- THE REALITY: Smart companies embrace the conflicts that make communities thrive
- MYTH #5: Opinion leaders build strong communities
- THE REALITY: Communities are strongest when everyone plays a role
- MYTH #6: Online social networks are the key to a community strategy
- THE REALITY: Online networks are just one tool, not a community strategy
How do you separate the myth from reality? Who is getting brand communities right?
Here are 7 best examples of Brand Communities. (All of these Brand Communities have been around for at least 5 years and are growing).
- BEING GIRL (PROCTER & GAMBLE): The site was created in 2000 as a destination for young, teenage girls. P&G includes content provided by experts and encourages open discussion with expert advice on topics such as menstruation, eating disorders, acne and dating. They take a big-sister approach. They also advertise the companies products, Always and Tampax. Being Girl is now available in over 25 countries. It has been cited in the book, Groundswell, as delivering 4X the Return on Investment (ROI) of traditional marketing.
- FIGMENT (RANDOM HOUSE): Is an online writing community owned by Random House, the biggest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It was founded by Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear in 2010. It currently has over 300,000 users. The target group of the community is mainly teenagers between 13 and 18 years old. It’s succeeded because they gave the community something to do, write and share novels. This isn’t just a community of interest, it’s a community of practice too. They highlight the best contributions of the community.
- H&R BLOCK: Tax preparation is a highly seasonal business. H&R provides immediate access to a tax professional for Q&A through the “Get Answers” section of their website but also connects you to learn and share experiences with others through their H&R Community. The effort secured 1,500,000 unique visitors and answered 1,000,000 questions for a 15% lift in business versus the period before H&R Block created the community.
- HARLEY OWNERS GROUP (HOG): Is a sponsored community, operated by Harley-Davidson for enthusiasts. The HOG is “the grandaddy of all community-building efforts,” serving to promote not just a consumer product, but a lifestyle. The HOG has also served to open new revenue streams for the company, with the production of tie-in merchandise offered to club members. Membership is 1,000,000+. The Harley Owners Group was created in 1983 as a way to build longer-lasting and stronger relationships. At that time, the company was facing bankruptcy.
- LUGNET (LEGO): When Lego Group set out to develop Mindstorms NXT, the latest version of its game for building programmable robots, it enlisted help from a group of adult enthusiasts whom it found on Lugnet.com the largest unofficial community of Lego fans. While the marketing target for Mindstorms is mainly teenage boys, the people that Lego reached out to were a group of men in their 40s and 50s who knew each other from communicating and working together on elaborate Lego projects on Lugnet.com.The group’s members, according to a Lego spokesman, contributed “incredibly valuable insights” in hardware, software, design and usability based on their own experiences.
- MY STARBUCK IDEA: Is now 6+ years-old and remains the gold standard of crowd sourced tip boxes that have actually worked for a brand and delivered ideas from customers (150,00 plus) with innovations (277) that have actually been implemented. Customers today can order a “skinny” beverage and a cake pop, garner digital rewards for using their Starbucks Card and enjoy free Wi-Fi – all thanks to suggestions from fans. “Our passionate customers and partners have been sharing their ideas with us on My Starbucks Idea, and we have listened and acted upon many amazing innovations that we have received from this online community,” said Alex Wheeler, VP global digital marketing for Starbucks.
- ORACLE COMMUNITY (ORACLE): Is a site for people interested in Oracle Corp.’s database and software products. Members share personal stories, pictures, videos and birthdays. They can create blogs on the site, form groups around themes and build networks of designated friends. Members can also schedule meetings and events both online and in person.
These examples show Brand Communities can produce significant results and ROI but they also demonstrate companies should not try to create them unless they accept are willing to accept diversity of opinion, occasional conflict and apply the internal resources necessary to engage.
Do these examples explain Brand Communities? Are they best examples to you?
October 19, 2014 by
Sun Tzu’s wisdom in The Art of War is as true today as it was in 500 B.C.
Competitive Intelligence is the gathering of publicly-available information about an enterprise’s competitors and the use of that information to gain a business advantage. The goals of competitive intelligence include discerning potential business risks and opportunities and enabling faster reaction to competitors’ actions and events.
If Sun Tzu were with us today, he would probably be using digital competitive intelligence tools to understand his adversaries. Which ones would he use; why and for what purpose?
Here are 10 experts giving us their best competitive intelligence tools:
- GOOGLE TRENDS: Measuring individual sites (yours or competitor) is good but the real fun in this is comparing trends. That will give you the key context you need to make even more sense of this competitive data. Don’t focus on the actual numbers (you’ll notice I say this a lot in this post). You want to compare the trends and each line gives context to the other two. That is deeply meaningful. – Avinash Kaushik (Google)
- COMPETE: Has a useful interface, speaks the right language (unique visitors, visits, etc.), offers the ability to compare multiple sites, and its data is easy to understand and well presented. Compete is best used for comparing competitors’ website traffic. The trends are reliable. The information could be meaningfully used to look into seasonal trends between competitors. – Sam Crocker (MOZ)
- ALEXA: Has been around since 1996. It’s a (mostly) free service that will help you analyze traffic on your competitor’s ecommerce store. Type in your competitors URL and Alexa will give you their global traffic rank, number of sites linking in, search analytics, audience insight, average site load time, and a whole lot more. You can really dig deep with Alexa, but it’s important to note that there are inaccuracies with Alexa’s information, since they get their data from those who have installed their toolbar for IE and Firefox or installed their Google Chrome extension. Take the numbers with a grain of salt. – Mark Hayes (Ecommerce University)
- HITWISE: An Experian product, provides excellent data and insight that no free/ low-cost alternative can rival. With Hitwise, you can build an even more accurate picture of where you are versus your competitors. Upstream and downstream reporting allows you to form an impression of the behaviour, intention and ‘mindset’ of visitors to your website. An ‘upstream’ report will show you what sites visitors have been to before visiting yours and shed light on the types of behaviour customers are displaying before they visit you. – Gavin Llewellyn (Smart Insights)
- KEYWORD SPY: Offers a free Organic Competitors report that can help identify who the top competitors are for a particular keyword. Using this tool to identify competitors can not only help identify competitors you may not have known about, but also lets you see how competition differs around different keywords. – Mark Purtell (Search Engine Journal)
- OPEN SITE EXPLORER: Is one of the free tools which will enable you to check link popularity, and monitor existing backlinks. If you are trying to promote your website with the help of blogs or guest blogs, you should definitely keep an eye on the links that you create. Open Site Explorer can help you predict page and domain authority, calculate total number of inbound links and determine the domain’s ranking potential (with the help of over 40 parameters). - Anna Robeson (Grow Map)
- SEMRUSH: Lets you monitor competitors’ organic keyword positions, find relevant long tail keywords, see your competitors’ PPC ads, and more. It also includes SEO tools. There’s a wealth of data available from the free search bar on the homepage, though you will have to upgrade ($69.95 per month) for more queries and results – Chris Kilbourn (Kiss Metrics)
- TOPSY: Is the tool Siltala recommends for competitive intelligence analysis because it lets you search the entire history on Twitter. He also said, “Use Circle Count for G+ to find intel about your competitors”. – Matt Siltala (Avalaunch)
- MARKETING GRADER: Allows you to learn about the overall success of your competition’s SEO. With this tool, you can learn website traffic patterns and SEO data. You can also see which tactics are working and which aren’t, and you can also learn if conversions are being made. This tool will score you out of 100, and it will even provide you with suggestions on how you can improve your SEO. – Indiesilver Marketing
These are our 10 best competitive intelligence tools from 10 experts. Do they match yours? What would you add or delete?
October 07, 2014 by
What goes up must come down according to Sir Issac Newton. But Sir Issac never had to buy Facebook advertising.
The gravitational pull on Facebook is not quite as simple. According to Syncapse, who has measured the value of Facebook Fans since 2010, the value of a Facebook Fan went up to $174, an increase 28% in 2013 from 2010. Yet, the organic reach of Facebook went down at a greater rate to 6.53% per Fan according to TechCrunch.
To understand, you should know Facebook measures reach in the following ways;
- Organic reach is the number of unique people, Fans or Non-Fans, who saw any content about your Page in their News Feed, Ticker or on your Page.
- Paid reach is the number of unique people who saw an ad or Sponsored Story that pointed to your Page.
- Viral reach is the number of unique people who saw this post from a story published by a friend.
If the value of Fans goes up but the ability to reach them organically goes down, it means:
- Facebook is pulling back on organic reach to push paid reach for those who pay for it
- There’s only so many posts and content that can go in a News Feed and it’s overloaded.
Here’s 4 reasons why value of Facebook Fans goes up but reach goes down.
FACEBOOK USERS (source: Facebook Shareholders Report 2nd Qtr 2014
- 1,317,000,000 total active users on Facebook (+14% vs. year ago)
- 829,000,000 of these active users are on Facebook daily (+19% vs. year ago)
- 1,070,000,000 active mobile users on Facebook (+31% vs year ago)
- 654,000,000 of these mobile users are on Facebook daily (+39% vs. year ago)
- CONCLUSION: Users and daily usage are increasing, especially on mobile were there is a smaller screen
FACEBOOK REVENUE (source: Facebook Shareholder Report 2nd Qtr 2014)
- $2,910,000,000 in 2nd Qtr 2014 (+61% vs. year ago)
- 92% of revenue comes from advertising in this period
- 88% of revenue comes from advertising in the year ago period
- $2.24 is average revenue per user in 2nd Qtr 2014 (+40% vs. year ag0)
- CONCLUSION: Facebook’s revenue model is dependent on advertising. It’s is increasing significantly but revenue per user is not keeping pace with total revenue
FACEBOOK FAN VALUE (source: Syncapse Value of a Facebook Fan 2013)
- 1,500 stories could appear in a person’s News Feed. For people with lots of friends and Page Likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear (source: Facebook for Business)
- Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person (source: Splashscore)
- The total number of Pages Liked by the typical Facebook user grew more than 50% last year (source: TechCrunch)
- 50% more recall and 35% higher online sales lift occurs when a person see their friends like a business on Facebook (source: Facebook for Business)
- Average CPM (Cost Per Thousand) on Facebook goes from about $3 in May to $10 in June 2014 (source: Splashscore)
- CONCLUSION: News Feed are overloaded but Facebook Fans have high value. This justify Facebook increasing ad rates and push Paid Reach at the expense of Organic Reach for users
Does this explain what goes up and comes down on Facebook to you? Did the facts lead you the same conclusion? Does it change the way you think about Facebook advertising?
September 27, 2014 by
This is my 239th blogpost. That may be more than some, but not as many as other bloggers I know.
Like others, this blog began as an outlet for expression. I was starting a business. Like others who have followed this path, I said if not now, when. Only the when was in the midst of the worst recession since the great depression. This blog became a way of coping and putting values and beliefs out there when not much was coming in.
Writing helped me through hard times. Circumstances improved. Today, this blog is one of our most valuable assets for a full service digital (digital, social, mobile) consultancy and agency that build brands using proven relationship principles and ROI.
Research shows I’m not alone. How? Here are 10 studies that show writing helps health and well-being.
- PUTS YOU IN TOUCH WITH YOURSELF: Scientific evidence supports that journaling provides unexpected benefits. The act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. – PyschCentral
- MAKES YOU MORE OPTIMISTIC: People in a study who expressed gratitude in writing once a week for two months were more optimistic about life (and, interestingly, exercised more), compared with people who didn’t. – Harvard Business Review
- REDUCES STRESS, AIDS IMMUNITY: Writing about difficult, even traumatic, experiences appears to be good for health on several levels – raising immunity and other health measures and improving life functioning. – American Psychological Association
- SPEEDS HEALING: Writing down your thoughts and feelings after a traumatic event can actually make physical wounds heal faster, according to a study from New Zealand researchers. - Scientific America
- INCREASES RESILIENCE: Studies show that writing during difficult times may help you find meaning in life’s challenges and become more resilient in the face of obstacles. - University of Minnesota
- HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER: Spending just 15 minutes a night writing down what you’re thankful for could do wonders for your sleep, according to an Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being study. Researchers found that study participants who wrote down a list of things they were grateful for before bed experienced longer, and better, sleep. – Psychology Today
- DECREASES ILLNESS: In one study, five months after writing, a significant interaction emerged such that writing about trauma, one’s best possible self, or both were associated with decreased illness compared with controls. – Southern Methodist University
- REDUCES DEPENDENCE ON DRUGS AND DOCTORS: In a study of college students, one group wrote about personally traumatic life events for 15 minutes on four consecutive days. The other group of students wrote about trivial topics. Compared to those who wrote about trivia, the students who wrote about traumatic experiences used fewer pain relievers over the next six months. They also visited the campus health center less often. – Aetna
- HELPS CANCER PATIENTS THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THEIR DISEASE: A study showed that expressive writing could help cancer patients not only think about their disease in a different way, but also improve their quality of life. – The Oncologist
- IMPROVES OVERALL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: Participants who wrote about their deepest thoughts and feelings reported significant benefits in both objectively assessed and self-reported physical health 4 months later, with less frequent visits to health centers and a trend towards fewer days out of role owing to illness. - Pennebaker Study
In many of these studies, participants wrote for as little as 15 minutes a day but did it regularly. Is this investment in writing worth it for your health and well being?