If you’ve been on Facebook, Twitter, or any number of blogs in the last year or so, you may have come across a trend of visual articles called infographics. Popular because they make a bigger, visual impact on readers, infographics are everywhere. Readers tend to pay more attention and hold information longer when you pair it with these eye catching graphics.
But not all infographics are created equal. Effective infographics have many common characteristics. Here are four components that will increase the effectiveness of your future infographics.
A Visual Story
An infographic is a visual version of a blog post or article. Just as you’re telling a complete story with a article, your infographic has to have a start, middle, and finish. There also has to be a “so-what”–an overreaching point to the whole thing. Why should the reader care about what they just read?
One way to make sure your infographic accomplishes this is to start with a written outline before you even consider the graphics. Give it the same test you’d give a blog post or an article. Does it make a point? Does it include supporting facts? Does it follow a logical sequence of information? Remember that the graphics should enhance the story, not substitute for missing pieces of it.
If you release an infographic into the world and no one shares it, does it make a sound? Of course not. The entire point of creating these visual articles is to have them shared via social media networks and blogs. You’re looking for your information to be shared with a link back to your website.
Provide readers with the tools they need to easily share your infographic. Give them the embed code for your image so they can post it on their blogs. Add social media sharing buttons to your page to make sharing to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus a one click action. Finally, ask and you shall receive. Add a line to the end of the article asking your readers to share the image with anyone they feel would be interested. You can even email complementary websites and blogs with your infographic and ask them to share if they feel their audience would enjoy it.
Early 2013 saw a rash of infographics with facts that later turned out to be not true. In their rush to create something that would go viral, some internet marketers put out infographics without fact checking the statements they were making. Minor backlash ensued, making media outlets a little more critical of the infographics coming their way.
No matter how visually beautiful your infographic is, it must be supported by verifiable facts. In fact, it’s always a good idea to cite your sources. You can do so by putting an asterisk next to anything you have a citation for and adding the source at the bottom of the infographic. It will show your readers and publications that want to share your creation just how serious you are about presenting a truthful infographic.
Solving a Problem
Infographics for fun are nice. There are plenty of organizations that want to create an infographic because they are trendy. But if your infographic doesn’t solve a problem for the reader, its chances of being effective are low. Ask yourself what the reader gets out of the deal. Are you answering a question she might have? Did you bring to light an issue she might have overlooked? Are you helping her make a decision or showing her how to complete an action? If you can’t come up with anything, go back to the infographic drawing board.
Bio: Brian Lakeman is blogger and Brand Manager for Activ8me fibre broadband. He enjoys writing about technical topics that relate to internet users.