What are Infographics?
Infographics are a hot trend in the content marketing arena. But exactly what is an infographic? An infographic is a graphical presentation of facts, figures or other information to showcase or simplify key points.
Infographics can be used to:
- Distill key points from research data, blog posts or larger documents.
- Showcase important or surprising information.
- Explain relationships between people or things that may be difficult to understand.
- Provide instructions quickly and simply.
- Explain processes (similar to a computer programming flowchart).
- Show timelines.
- Persuade an audience by highlighting talking points for a given position.
- Quotable quotes (that you've said yourself OR quotes of others that you have obtained written permission to use).
- Curating information from several sources.
What Goes Into an Infographic?
Unlike standard graphs and charts from research or data collection, infographics typically do not show an entire graph or chart. Rather, they extract and highlight one or more key findings. This is done so that viewers do not become overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data. As well, many viewers may not be able to properly interpret a standard graph or chart and may come up with a wrong or irrelevant conclusion.
For example, a data chart may show the household incomes for a studied population. The chart of raw data may not properly describe how those income values relate to standards of living or how they compare with similar populations. An infographic could showcase a key income statistic and explain how it relates to specific economic benchmarks.
Why are Infographics So Popular?
For audiences who are oriented to communicate visually and quickly (such as those who communicate with emojis), infographics help them absorb key information faster. As well, infographics are popular for sharing on social media because they are quickly and easily digestible.
Tips for Information Gathering and Selection for Infographics
What's Your Story? The key to creating a successful infographic is selecting the data that should be included to tell the story you want to tell.
Don't overwhelm your readers! Only include the amount of information that is needed to make the points you need to make. For those viewers who want to dig into the data, you may want to consider providing a link to more in-depth or explanatory documents that are suitable and available for public viewing.
What not to include. It should go without saying, but NEVER, EVER include confidential, proprietary or personally identifiable information.
Cite your sources. If you're curating information from a variety of sources, make sure that you: 1) Have permission to include that information; and, 2) Cite your sources somewhere in the infographic. Not only will this help give your infographic authority, it will also help promote the work of your sources.
The key to creating a successful infographic is selecting the data that should be included to tell the story you want to tell.— Heidi Thorne
How to Create an Infographic
There are several ways to create infographics. Most methods utilize a software program to help the user place data and other graphic elements. Popular software programs and online services to create infographics include:
- Free or paid online graphic or infographic design software (e.g., Canva, Piktochart and Visme)
- Microsoft PowerPoint
- Adobe Illustrator or InDesign
- Corel Draw
Many of the online infographic design software programs have templates to make creating them as easy as entering and formatting text and dragging-and-dropping graphical elements in place. These templates can help create a professional looking graphic, even if you're not a designer. Bonus feature for many online services is that they may have built-in tools for social media sharing.
Because infographics may be viewed on a mobile device, selecting a software program or service that will create a mobile responsive design can improve your viewers' user experience.
How to Use an Infographic
Like blog posts, infographics can be a cornerstone of your content or inbound marketing program. As well, they can be helpful in sales or educational presentations. Here are some of the key ways they can be used:
Share on Social Media. Infographics are highly shareable, especially if the information is relevant for your followers! Social channels with visual orientation or capability (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) can be ideal venues for posting and sharing.
Include in Your Marketing Materials or Media Kit. Your infographics may help you secure media interest if it gets a lot of social media sharing and buzz. The media may be interested in republishing your infographics (only with your permission of course!). So consider including them in your digital media kit.
Highlight Quotes from Self Published Books. Authors can promote their self published books by using infographics highlighting quotes from their books. Consider including a link to where the book can be purchased.
Use in Presentations. Infographics can easily show key points in your presentation. Only caution is to use those that don't require scrolling... or squinting. Long infographics scrunched into one slide will be impossible for an audience to read at a distance. Consider splitting up one long infographic into several smaller highlights, with maybe a single highlight per slide.
Put It On Your Website. If you create your infographic with a program such as Microsoft PowerPoint, you would create a JPEG (.jpg) or other graphic file and upload it to your website as an image. Make sure your image alt text attributes describe the information you're presenting to help your SEO. Some online infographic design services offer embedding capability. In that case, the graphic is still hosted by the design software service and you simply copy and paste some HTML code on to your site. These embedded graphics may also offer your website visitors easy social media sharing capability.
Sharing via Embedding. Some infographic design services may give you the capability to allow your website visitors to embed your graphic on their own sites. It will be a piece of HTML code that they can copy and paste onto their sites. That code will feed your infographic to their sites. It can be a good way to gain greater exposure for your website and work. However, carefully assess whether you want to offer this embedding capability to everyone or to only select sites.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2017 Heidi Thorne