February 13, 2012

6 ways to tell your stories with data

A concept map by Juhan Sonin from the Wikipedia Concept Extractor

Nonprofits: Move your mission forward by following these examples

Target audience: Nonprofits, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, government agencies, universities, businesses, research institutions.

Guest post by Kurt Voelker
CTO, Forum One

Data is the new black. These days everyone is releasing it, visualizing it, aggregating it, and mashing it up. And for good reason. Data is so much more than a stack of numbers or a server filled with client outputs. It can justify the work that your organization is doing, help others understand why it is critical, and offer exciting new ways to motivate others to help solve the problems your organization is working on.

And chances are your nonprofit, government agency, foundation, or research institution has gobs of it just sitting around. It’s locked in white papers, policy briefs, and fact sheets. It’s hidden away in project output reports and research Excel files.

Given the attention that data gets from the media, influencers, and Capitol Hill, we believe that every communications department is obligated to look closer at their data and how they are using it – and consider how you should be tapping into it to get work done toward your organizations goals.

One effective way to transform your data from an afterthought into a powerful communications product is through visualizations that help tell your story.

Here are 6 ways to tell your stories with data that you can apply to your own web and communications work:

Speak with numbers

1Sometimes it’s best to just let the numbers speak for themselves. Numbers are a universal language. You can make a big impression of site visitors just by presenting them clearly and in context with your Web content.

charity: water, an organization that raises money to build wells in Africa has learned the lesson. Look how elegantly they tell the story of the need for fresh drinking water and the difference their prorgrams are making.

Reveal change

2Many of the stories we’d like our site visitors to understand are centered on revealing the truth behind a situation. The truth can become obvious when you reveal the change in data in a visual way. By simply removing everthing except the changing data, your data will suddenly reveal the compelling story you are looking to spread – whether you are revealing conditions that are worsening, attitudes that are changing or the improvements you organization is making.

My favorite example of this technique is the Descry Project’s Obesity Epidemic visualization. By using the simple metaphor of T-shirt size to represent a US state’s obesity rate, and making them “grow” over a two decade period, we can quickly see how America’s waistline has ballooned in since 1987. Continue reading

July 19, 2011

How DoSomething engages young people


Make it easy to participate, make it mobile — and don’t forget the fun!

JD LasicaOne of the great success stories of online advocacy has been DoSomething.org, a not-for-profit that encourages young people to use the power of online to “do good stuff offline.”

Last fall I moderated a panel at BlogWorld Expo with DoSomething chief technology officer George Weiner, and last month I co-presented a Social Media for Social Good bootcamp at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service with George.

“This generation is far more engaged than anyone can possibly understand or measure due to the amount of conversations going on in social media.”
— George Weiner

So during a brief break in the action I got him to talk about how DoSomething spurs 1.2 million young people a year to take action on behalf of a social cause they care about.

“Young people have this amazing thing they can do that doesn’t require car, money or an adult,” he says. Simply put, any young person — 25 or younger, with a sweet spot of 16- to 17-year-olds — can launch a social cause campaign about any cause they feel passionately about.

The nation’s largest cause site for young people, DoSomething has about 30,000 cause projects started by young people.

Watch, embed or download the video on Vimeo

Success comes down to a combination of factors

The annual DoSomething Awards airs on VH1 in August.

The site’s success comes down to these factors:

• They make it easy to participate by lowering the barriers to entry.

• They’re laser-focused on catering to young people.

• They make it easy to take part in campaigns via mobile devices.

• They try to make causes fun by emphasizing use of participants’ social networks. Continue reading

May 6, 2011

How to understand Daily Active Users in Facebook Insights

John HaydonWe’ve already looked at seven different ways that people interact with your Facebook Page.

Facebook Insights allows you to view daily interactions by type in a report called “Daily Active Users Breakdown.”

This report can be found by selecting the “Users” report on the left-hand side of your Insights panel:

Facebook Insights

Understanding the breakdown of Daily Active Users

Halfway down the Users report, you’ll find the Daily Active Users Breakdown chart:


This chart provides daily numbers on five different stats. Mousing over any data point in this chart will allow you to see details for a specific day.

  • Unique Page Views – This is the number of users per day that have viewed your Page.
  • Post Views – This is the number of people per day who have viewed your posts. This number is typically higher than the other data points because posts receive a large amount of exposure in news feeds.
  • Liked a Post – The number of unique fans per day who have liked a post.
  • Commented on a Post – The number of unique fans per day who have commented on a post.
  • Wall Posts – This is the number of unique fans who have posted to your Page (includes updates, photos, videos, links).
  • Continue reading

January 5, 2010

6 simple stats you need to measure on Twitter

Birds on wires

This is day 4 of the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media. Yesterday we spoke about measuring stats on your blog. Today we’ll be gathering some stats on where you’re at on Twitter.

John HaydonIn two weeks we’ll discuss how to analyze your network more deeply to build specific strategies. For now, we want to set a baseline so you can measure growth over the next 2, 3 and 6 months.

The three basic measurements



This number indicates reach. Your followers number is the number of people that have shown on interest in your Twitter stream. Track how your follower numbers grow by jotting it down every month or so in an excel spreadsheet. You’ll notice the more followers you gain, the faster this number will grow (to a point). Keep in mind that some of these folks only followed you in hopes that you’d follow back and may not be part of your actual community.

2. Following

This number has meaning when put next to your followers number. Are you following more people than the number of people following you? If so, you might want to look at adding more value on Twitter. If you’re new on Twitter, keep in mind that this number might be higher than your follower number. That will change with time and effort. Continue reading