Does your content pass the Hans Rosling test?

The death of super-charged statistician Hans Rosling has been headline news. Understand what lay behind his brilliance and you’ll produce better, more effective content

An important message

Rosling was speaking to a global audience about global issues. His specialism was changes in the world’s population and its relative wealth and health. There’s not much that’s more important than that.


The subject matter of your content may not be so ambitious, but it should be important to your audience. Be honest – are you just filling the editorial calendar for the sake of it rather than providing really useful information?

An original message

It was the originality of Rosling’s findings that helped make such an impact. He was telling a story that went against popular perception. Policy decisions and election results were being based on wide-held beliefs that were simply wrong.

As content marketers we must try to be original in what we produce. This is why it’s so important to speak to the experts within your organisation to discover original topics and ways of approaching your market’s pain points.

Data-driven insight

Rosling was all about the numbers. It was his careful analysis that led to the original messages about important topics.

There is probably a huge amount of data within your organisation that could be the foundation of great content that your audiences will eagerly consume. If there isn’t, then create the data yourself. This could mean running surveys or other research projects. Team up with some academics and help develop new knowledge.

An engaging delivery

There is no point having a great and worthy message if you share it a boring way. What made Rosling so famous was his skill as a communicator. He took the data-driven insight and brought it to life in a series of talks and documentaries. He welcomed the label ‘edutainer’ because he knew the more interesting he was, the further his message would travel.

But Rosling’s skill transcended his charismatic delivery – he championed digital techniques of making data digestible. Have a look at the brilliant ways of viewing world poverty data at Gapminder, the foundation he helped create.

Using design to make information interesting is something we should all be doing, all the time. Rosling did it in the real world during his talks and he did it digitally too.

Does your content pass the Rosling Test?

Important. Original. Insightful. Engaging.

It’s not a bad checklist when you’re planning your next content campaign. Thanks Hans.

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