As public relations professionals, we find ourselves increasingly needing to extract insight from troves of data, whether the data is created through our own efforts or data used to plan communication efforts. Trying to extract such insight from spreadsheets can be mind-numbing and horribly inefficient.
A lot of the analytics tools we use–like Google Analytics or SEMRush–have those visualizations built in. But just as often, we’ve only got a spreadsheet to work with, so we find ourselves increasingly turning to data visualization tools to quickly identify patterns or outliers that can lead to useful insights.
Microsoft recently released just such a tool, called SandDance.
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SandDance is a free, web-based tool that lets you upload a dataset from your computer or import a third-party dataset from the web and analyze it with very sophisticated visualization tools. Microsoft’s video explains the tool’s capabilities:
So how can public relations and professional communicators use SandDance? If you’ve got a spreadsheet full of data, there’s probably a way you can put it to use. Here are some ideas:
6 Ways To Use SandDance To Visualize Marketing Data
- Twitter allows you to download your analytics as spreadsheets, so you could import that data to more easily unearth what kinds of tweets prompted retweets or follows to your account. Likewise, if you use tools like FollowerWonk, you can download data about sets of Twitter users and analyze influencers.
- Social Sharing – BuzzSumo allows you to download datasets regarding content that has been shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest.
- Website Analytics – While Google Analytics has very powerful visualizations built it, there may be times when even its advanced features can’t do the job. You can download most data from Google Analytics into a spreadsheet you could then use to analyze using SandDance.
- Keyword Research – Import your keyword research data from Google Keyword Planner to visualize seasonal trends in search volume and apply that insight into your content calendar.
- Media Planning/Reporting – Data from advertising campaigns could be the source of insights for understanding the effectiveness of your ad dollars. Facebook advertisers, for example, can download their ad metrics as spreadsheets that could be visualized using SandDance.
- Market research – There is a bewildering amount of publicly-available data that could be put to us for market research purposes. A great place to start would be Data.gov, which has more than 199,000 datasets available for download.
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