Why You Need Data and Numbers

data

I am not a numbers person.

I don’t like numbers. I don’t always understand numbers. I had to work hard in every math class I took.

In fact, when I first started as an intern at Peake Media, the parent company of Campus Rec Magazine, I had to write down my hours and do math at the end of every two weeks before I handed it to my boss. Let’s just say nine times out of 10 he had to fix whatever number I had come up with because it was wrong. And that was just simple addition with a calculator.

However, as I dive deeper into the world of media, I have learned numbers can’t be ignored. They are so, so important. Numbers are data and data points are unbiased ways to get a pulse on the industry or what have you. If you aren’t reading the data, you’re probably missing the mark on many things.

Recently, we decided to make numbers and data a bit of a game here at Peake Media, because you can imagine it’s not top of mind for us journalists who make up 90 percent of the office. But a competition was decided upon to motivate us to look at and utilize the data. We picked data points drawn from Google Analytics on each of our brand’s websites and social media pages. From there, we set the goals we wanted to hit by the end of the next quarter, determining a percentage of growth system to help decide the winner.

Two weeks in, I’ve looked at the data more than I have in the past three years. I’ll pop onto Google Analytics or Facebook Insights at least twice a week, viewing what web stories are gaining ground or what time of day is best to post a meme. It’s been helpful, realizing I am aiming for something rather than posting aimlessly. And when the numbers haven’t done what I want, it gets me thinking on how to change things up.

What data are you looking at? Are you analyzing the numbers at all? What about your staff? Even your student staff? Are you teaching the importance of data and how to use it in each of their roles? For Group X instructors, that means tracking attendance numbers. For front desk staff, it could be looking at equipment check out to determine where more items need to be purchased. For marketing directors, it means optimizing social media and your website reach.

Don’t ignore the numbers. Look at them, understand them and then use them. I know I’m just grateful I don’t have to add or multiple anything.

Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at heather@peakemedia.com.

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