Everyone loves a good infographic. Ever wonder why though? Infographics are a great way to visually display a ton of information in an ultra-digestible format. They are easy to share and perform superbly well on the social web – whether in blog posts, on Twitter, or pinned on Pinterest. Some are informative. Some are fun. But the good ones share some of the same qualities. If you are looking to create an infographic as part of your content marketing plan, make sure to take these features into consideration.
Data is what makes the infographic unique compared to other charts, graphs and visuals out there. By collecting data and crunching it into a self-serve format, you can educate your audience and give them some awesome takeaways. One can use primary or secondary research to gather information, or a combination of both. Some techniques to gather data and/or feedback to use in your infographic include:
- Questions distributed through e-mail services (MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc)
- Survey Monkey
- Social media survey questions or polls
- Google Consumer Surveys
- Hard copy surveys handed out at tradeshow booths
- Interviews with industry professionals
- Research, research, research (for secondary data/information)
Your data will be the cornerstone of your infographic. Go through your results and hand-select the best bits of info that are worth sharing. Tie them together so they tell a story. When formatting data, think about how you can present it. Chronically over a timeline? A compare/contrast? A before and after? Make the statistics easy to understand. And make sure they are also eye-opening. Nothing motivates a share more than a “holy cow!” or a “no way!” reaction.
Unlike textual based blog posts or 140-character limit tweets, an infographic is a great platform to showcase your design skills. There are usually lots of neat graphics and visually stimulating accents within infographics. They should complement your key messages and stats but also dress it up a little bit. Consider all the different forms of multimedia that you can incorporate into the layout to add to the content. Here are some examples:
- Embed YouTube videos
- Add animated GIFs
- Import logos or brand photos
- Use stock graphics or icons
- Embed something interactive, for example, an embedded interactive game like what Google Doodles do
- Include music clips
Make sure to first determine what your key points are and lay out a wireframe so you can keep your messages organized and on-point. Once you reach the design phase, this is where things get fun. If you’re an artist, this part will be relatively easy. If you aren’t, that’s okay too. There are still a number of inexpensive online tools to help you create graphics and visuals to include within your piece. There are a number of tools online (some paid, some free) that can help you easily build an infographic, once your ideas are set.
For a templated approach, try Piktochart, Visual.ly or Easel.ly. These let you lay out the infogrpahic and provide you with all the shapes, icons and images that you would need too. Or, if you are more artistic and want an entirely custom and unique version, start with a blank canvas in Photoshop, InDesign or Illustrator. Of course, you’ll want to incorporate some other design elements within the graphic. Tools like Canva can help you build custom graphics, banners and cool texts. Dollar Photo Club and iStock are great for stock photography. And Pixlr is useful for free photo editing.
Unless it is primary research, much of the info and stats you include in the infographic will come from third party, secondary resources. These need to be documented for not only ethical reasons, but also so you can share the wealth and let readers find more information beyond your infographic. The easiest way to cite your sources is to include a section at the footer of your infographic with all the websites and/or personnel you used to collect your data. Some sites use the full URL while others simply use the root domain for a cleaner look. Some other shorten the links too. Although it doesn’t look as neat, I prefer the first approach so visitors can see the actual webpage that assisted you in your research. Make sure the sources are trusted and reputable (stay away from consumer-generated sources like Yahoo Answers and Wikipedia).
Congratulations. You’ve completed your infographic design! That’s great. But now you need to get views. There’s a number of ways you can help push the infographic out so more eyes can view it, helping your website earn links and strengthen your company’s brand.
First, include the infographic on your site (in the blog area, usually) and include the embed code for others to easily copy and paste it into other areas on the web. You should brand the infographic with your name/logo so people know the original creator. But outside of that, ethical blogger will give you a plug and a link.
Make sure the file size of the graphic is compressed so people can save it and re-upload it with ease. Seems simple but makes a big difference when trying to promote your graphic. Naturally, you’ll want to post on social media and don’t forget about Pinterest. Many users have boards devoted just to infographics.
Niche groups on LinkedIn might find it valuable too, so don’t forget to share it there. Include an intro sentence or two explaining why it’s relevant and attach as an image, along with the original link for users to download, if they so choose. Additionally, you can submit it to infographic directories like InfographicsShowcase and NerdGraph. Adding it as a SlideShare file is good too.
Finally, you can use it as a hook for a contributed content piece or news story. Gather contact info from bloggers, journalists or editors and send a pitch teasing the concept and see if they will accept. Sometimes, you’ll want to provide some additional write-up to support the visual. This is a great way to get your infographic seen and shared by many people. But keep in mind, media sites are bombarded with pitches every day. So save your best infographics for this approach and make sure it’s highly relevant to that particular writer and his/her readers.