Last updated on August 3rd, 2013
Unless you’re completely new to developing SEO optimized content, or have been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you’ve certainly heard of the infographic – many outlets and marketers have extolled the virtue of including infographics in your content marketing mix.
Some have placed them on a high pedestal, going so far as to say you’re really behind the curve if you’re not including them in your content mix.
Others, while enthusiastic about infographics, are a bit more restrained.
Commenting in an interview with CMI, co-founder of JESS3 Leslie Bradshaw says that infographics should be viewed as a “…high-level tactic that are good for educated audiences.” For consumer audiences, infographics may be a bit much. “Consumer audiences are much more likely to share something on Facebook that’s really ‘snackable,’ Leslie explains.
So in order to develop “graphic” types of content that will get shared through Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and others, Leslie and her team develop what they call “data graphics”, which are basically shorter visual representations of one or two data points.
We of course like to take a more restrained approach…
Understanding what infographics are, and more importantly how you should approach them is way more important than putting one together for the sake of doing it.
However, we certainly appreciate the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”
Visualization is very powerful, and the ability to convey complex information graphically is what lies at the heart of an infographic.
Infographics is a short hand term for “information graphics” – they can be defined as graphic visual representations of information, or as explained in this CMI piece by Ahava Leibtag, a true infographic takes “…a complex data set and translate(s) it into an easily understood picture.”
Ahava goes on to explain that many pieces marketed as infographics, while good, are really “posters” since they lack complex data. While her example from Copyblogger is a really great, informative piece of content, it really lacks the sophisticated data that takes it to the infographic level – I would suspect Ahava would have the same opinion of an infographic, or “poster,” we did for an e-cigarette client some time ago…
If you’re looking to include infographics in your content mix, there are a few rules you need to follow says Paul Gustafson at CMI. These rules include:
- Tell a story
- Communicate complex data simply
- Make sharing through social media easy
Some of the most successful infographics in fact take very complex information and concepts and boils them down into their simplest, most easily digestible form.
Avaya provides us with some questions you must consider before embarking on the infographic voyage. Answering the following questions is critical to developing a successful infographic she explains.
- Do you have something relevant?
- Do you have a clear call-to-action?
- Can you post the infographic in more than one place?
- Do you have a good designer?
- Does the infographic approach fit into your branding?
In the end, it all really boils down to determining the purpose of building an infographic in the first place, its relevancy to your brand and message, and its ROI potential
Once you’ve addressed these important questions and you determine if and how an infographic will work for your site, you’re ready to get started.
There’s a plethora of templates out there for you to check out, or you can design a custom one…this handy infographic from Infographic Labs (below) provides a great overview of the “how.”
So in the end, are infographics the new content nirvana, or do they overload audiences and not deliver on the promises so many claim them to hold?
The answer of course – it really depends on a host of factors. If your audience in more “consumer” driven, perhaps you should consider the smaller, or more “snackable” pieces JESS3 develops.
If your audience is more sophisticated (some B2B), perhaps a two-level infographic makes sense…
We should caution though, you have to address the fundamental questions of purpose, goals, relevancy, sharing, ROI and more before you develop an infographic.
Have you developed any infographics for your website? If so, how did they work out?