What Is An Infographic?
An infographic is a visual representation of information, data, or knowledge presented in a compelling and appealing graphic format. While a infographic typically includes data of some sort, it does not necessarily need to include data.
Who Should Create Infographics?
Anyone can create an infographic. If your organization creates interesting sets of data, think about how you might present them in an infographic. Many people present a collection of facts they’ve collected on a given topic in an infographic. If you’ve got a story that can be told visually, it’s probably a good fit for an infographic.
When Is It Appropriate To Create An Infographic?
When you want to reach an audience that is interested in a particular topic, think about how you might create an infographic that would appeal to them. Since people share their interests with those people they know are similarly interested in a given topic, infographics are an efficient way of gaining the attention of a particular audience.
Why Should I Create An Infographic?
Infographics have become popular because they present often complex information in an easy and quick-to-digest format in a compelling way. People are overwhelmed with information, so anything that simplifies complexity and saves time will be appealing. Infographics do that.
Because they are so compelling, they are often passed on through email, social media and blogs.
How Do You Make An Infographic?
For What Purpose?
First, determine what you want to accomplish with your infographic. Three primary marketing purposes for creating infographics are:
- To raise awareness of a brand,
- To persuade, and
- To educate.
In the first case, the infographic will include the brand as the creator or sponsor, often accompanied by a call to action.
In the second case, the infographic will be designed to make a specific point in an effort to persuade people to agree with that point. These types of infographics are often used by nonprofits and for public policy debates and/or political campaigns. But they can just as easily be used to make a case for a company’s product or services.
In the third case, the infographic will be focused primarily on simply providing educational information.
This often goes hand-in-hand with the purpose of your infographic.
If you have existing information, data or knowledge that you want to put into an infographic format, you need to think about precisely who would be interested in such an infographic. Be disciplined and realistic in your thinking.
If you want to create an infographic that illustrates the century-long history of your hammer manufacturing company, the only audience that will likely be interested would be your own employees.
But if you’ve got historic sales data for which you can show a correlation between the rise in home improvement projects across the years, that would be of interest to a broader audience.
For example: Shutterstock, a website that sells visual media to graphic artists published a Global Design Trends of 2011 infographic that used their data to illustrate a topic in which graphic designers are certainly interested.
If you do not have your own data to work with but you know the audience you want to attract, you’ll need to get to work researching.
First, research your audience to find out what interests them that is related to what you want to accomplish.
Types Of Infographics
There are many different types of infographics. You can choose one type or mix and match.
- Many are simply a collection of facts and/or statistics about a particular topic,
- Some are simply informative or helpful,
- Some illustrate a timeline,
- Some are essentially lists,
- Some are flow charts, and
- Some are explanatory.
Elements Of An Infographic
The following are elements common to most infographics.
Design is the most important part of an infographic. If you do not have design skills, hire a professional to design it. If it is not appealing visually, it will not likely gain traction.
Most infographics have a common visual theme, employing a consistent color palette, charts, icons and graphics. The best infographics maintain a graceful visual flow from top to bottom.
Typography is often chosen carefully to enhance the theme of the infographic.
Focal Point. This is typically the headline at the top of the infographic, typically enclosed in a visually compelling graphic.
Sometimes, though, the point of focus will be on a graphic in the center of the infographic.
Headline. Headlines are typically short, clever, and intriguing enough to compel someone to read more and entice people to share the infographic.
Charts, Graphs, Icons & Illustrations. Remember, the whole point of infographics is that they make complex information easy to digest and understand. Whenever something can be expressed visually, it should.
Call-Out Number. This is a number that is called out from a set of data by giving it a lot of space on the infographic. By making the number physically big, it highlights the statistic’s importance.
Timeline. A technique to illustrate history, trends, or how data has changed over time.
Maps. Used to highlight geographic differences, often with data.
Word Clouds. These are a “cloud” of varying sizes and colored words. Word clouds are typically used to illustrate the frequency with which certain words occur in a given text, such as a speech. Larger words are used more frequently.
Brand/Call To Action. These are typically found after the infographic proper but before the sources and include a logo, a call to action, and/or website or social media addresses for the brand.
Sources. These are simply a list of URLs from which the data/information was collected.
File Format. PNG and JPG are the most commonly-used graphic file format for infographics.
I have seen many infographics shared as a PDF file, which is annoying and counterproductive to say the least, and completely ineffective at worst. The problem with PDFs is they are very cumbersome to embed for someone who knows what they’re doing and impossible for someone who doesn’t know how to embed PDFs. They are also not easily sharable in social channels.
Why make it really, really difficult to share your infographic when that is the whole point of making them?
Marketing Your Infographic
The following are some best practices for marketing your infographic.
Hosting. You will want to benefit from the traffic and links the infographic will generate if it becomes popular. Therefore, you will want to host the infographic at your own website but have a plan in place should the traffic exceed what your web host can handle if the infographic takes off.
Search Engine Optimization. If you are using the infographic to gain greater visibility for a given search term, the page on which you host the infographic should be optimized for that search term.
Embed Code. Your infographic should be accompanied by HTML code that anyone can easily copy and paste into their website or blog in order to embed your infographic there.
The embed code is usually placed within a TEXTAREA text box and will include a ALT and TITLE tags containing the search phrase for which you want to optimize. The URL the graphic links to should be your landing page.
Social Sharing. Also accompanying your infographic–both above and below it–should be social media sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook (Like and/or Share), Pinterest and LinkedIn (if appropriate) so that people who want to share the infographic with their social networks can easily do so.
Share the landing page for your infographic through all of your own channels such as Facebook, Twitter and email.
Traditional Media & Online Media. If you have relationships with traditional media, inquire whether the infographic is something they’d be interested in using. Many traditional media outlets now also publish blogs and infographics tend to keep visitors on a page longer than average, a metric media organizations value.
Find online media and bloggers who cover the topic of your infographic and offer them yours. Make it as easy as possible to use it by including the word “Infographic” in your email subject line to get their attention as well as the copy and paste code within the body of the email.
Bloggers often have very little time to blog, so if they see an email with Infographic in the subject line addressing a topic they cover, they’ll likely be interested. Especially if they’ve published infographics before.
Infographic Directories. These are websites or blogs that only include sites that publish infographics. They are sites bloggers often follow as a source of quick content, so they can be a very effective and efficient distribution channel. Do your research and only submit your infographic to sites that would seem likely to want to publish your infographic.
Look for a Submissions, Contact, or About page for submission guidelines or information and submit your infographic according to the publication’s guidelines.