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Infographics are GREAT

infographics-icon-300x240Infographics, or information graphics, are nothing new. For years, society has harnessed the power of visual representation to logically interpret cause-and-effect through diagrams, timelines and flow charts. From newspapers and magazines to city maps, scholarly work and textbooks, infographics in many ways are a staple in modern communication practice. In traditional public relations practice, infographics are commonly found as components of one-pagers, “by the numbers”, white papers and case studies.

With the decline of print news and as online and digital publishing continue to take a larger share of the information market, the need to discover better ways to disseminate concise information through WordPress blogs and email marketing has no doubt taken the center stage in the public relations, marketing and pro-blogging industries.  Since web content publishers only have a few seconds to invoke a readers decision, visual representation can provide a cognitive ways to engage readership and provide essential knowledge.

In recent months, we’ve witnessed a surge of infographic on popular pro-blogging outlets such as Mashable and Ragan featuring a variety of social/digital driven topics and trends. Some of the more popular infographics we’re seeing are typically geared towards online publishing and social media trends including stats on usage, by the numbers, how-to in step-by-step format as well as historical timelines. Unlike infographic of the past, these modern takes are attempting to almost conveying a complete story in of itself. Much like a one-pager, white paper and a case study did so in the past rather than as a supplement to a story or idea.

Outlying benefits to creating infographics for WordPress blogging:

Because stats and information provide value and infographics are a concise way to outline a point, the probability of a blog post with an infographic to go viral, in todays social web, is very high. Chicago-based infographic creator Lab42 cited that infographics created for their clients have:

…generated over 5,000 tweets, 2,000 Facebook ‘Likes’, and hundreds of linkbacks to their website. – Lab42

Because infographics are typically a image file or a .pdf as part of a blog post, it provides many easy way to share on the social web and can provide value in strategic search campaigns. Infographics do not necessarily have to be for a broad audience rather, in most cases, can be applied to a business-to-business marketing plan, facility or geographical region.

Elements of a great infographic:

  • Data-driven Research:

An infographic is only as good as the data it represents. Quality, fresh data is essential to a great infographic.

  • Quality Design:

A great infographic should be visual appealing and avoid clutter.

  • Complete Thoughts:

Mind the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Readers will need the complete process and all of the parts to arrive at the end point.

  • Timelines:

Background information is essential. For someone not as familiar with the given topic, historical data and timelines will provide the building blocks required to get up to speed.

  • Unique Data:

Original data can be a challenge and time consuming but it’s the cornerstone for a great infographic. Providing valuable content for the reader is what makes a great infographic.

  • Sources:

If original data is not possible, then citing where the information was obtained is essential.

Media Pitching:

While creation of an infographic is typically not a no-cost, it should be considered for budgeting a story pitching strategy. Again, with only seconds to grab a reporters attention, an infographic could be an important conduit to a media pitching strategy.

Viral Billboards:

While infographics provide value to the reader, or the consumer, through stats and figures, the can also provide value the creator. Infographics have proved to be a great way to unobtrusively get your company’s name, or domain name, out on the social web. Most infographic provide sources and information on the creator in the footer. Much like white papers and case studies did in the past.

The Cons:

Obviously they can be cost prohibitive as it require some type of data mining, fact checking and a medium to create the graphic. Additionally, with the rapid evolution of the internet and the continued popularity of the craft, most infographics will have a short “shelf life”. Plus, there’s no guarantee that your infographic will hit the viral superhighway.

Having a plan to get the word out on your new infographic is essential. Decide how one might strategically place this new infographic on online media outlets, social properties and and other ways to further extend its reach.  What are some of your infographic ideas?