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What Makes A Great Infographic?

During the past couple of years infographics have grown and grown in popularity, making them an important marketing tool to understand.

A good infographic will drive traffic to your site and build your online profile, if used effectively. When used badly, they have the power to destroy your reputation!  But with great risk comes great reward, follow these 5 steps to ensure you reap yours.

So what makes a good infographic?


Step 1: The Information

The clue is in the name! Whilst the ‘graphic’ part is essential for success, the ‘info’ part is just as important, if not more important to get right.

Sharon Hurley Hall (Writer for Unbounce) says that “As a reader, there’s nothing worse than looking at an infographic with a nice collection of facts and figures then scrolling to the bottom and finding out that the data was from 10 years ago.”

So, make sure your data comes from up-to-date and credible sources. The value of the infographic comes from being relevant and helpful to your audience. It might seem a daunting prospect, but it needn’t be; good sources are easy to come by if you know the right places to look.

  • Information from experts and thought leaders in your field
  • Peer reviewed content
  • Research firms such as: econsultancy; Gartner; Pew
  • Government, global bodies and NGO sites
  • Try other publically available research but be discerning

Here’s a handy list to start you off. Thanks Daily Tekk!

Of course you could always D.I.Y by providing your own research but be warned – asking for opinions over a pint in the pub isn’t going to give you any credibility. Asking 1,000 people to participate in an in-depth online survey will, however.

Start by picking a key topic that will be interesting to your targeted audience and then create some relevant questions from which you can draw your conclusions. Then use an online tool to manage your survey. Here are a few sites that will take you through the process, step by step: Google Forms; Wufoo; Survey Monkey.

(There are also companies who will run the whole thing for you, for a small fee, such as Task Bullet or Baycat).


Step 2: The Graphic

People will see the ‘graphic’ way before they explore the information, so make this bit count. Decide how you want to visualise the information and make all of the elements work harmoniously with your data. Here’s how:-

 1. Pick the first image carefullythis is your headline and will influence whether or not people will look at the whole thing. It will also play a major role in whether they share it. The more times it is shared the more links you will build to your site. Easy! (Consider using photos; vector art; charts & graphs; illustrations and even animated content).

Here’s an example from Jacob O’Neals’ site.

2. Tell a story – you want to lead your readers through a narrative, so why not do like the film and TV show makers and create a storyboard.
3. Design, design, design – your infographic should be impactful, harmonious and simple. These days, people want a good rate of return on the time they spend reading stuff. Use alternative backgrounds to keep different areas of data separate. This goes for any graphs and charts you’re using too. Make sure your design theme is consistent; text or graphic boxes should keep to the same format throughout.
4. Colour palettes – there’s a whole host of resources you can use to create an up to date and complementary colour scheme. Think about what your data is trying to say and what mood you are going for.
5. You’re the boss – guide your readers along by using lines, arrows and colours to lead them through the different sections.

Look to see what has worked for other people; take some inspiration from the folk posting here:

http://www.pinterest.com/piktochart/ (Pinterest)
http://visual.ly/ (Visual.ly)
http://piktochart.com/gallery/showcase/ (Piktochart Showcase)


Step 3: The Words

Now you have thought about the information and the graphics, you need to spend some quality time considering the writing. There’s not a lot of room for written content but each word will count.

Choose wisely when you:

  • Create the headings and subheadings
  • Point out interesting facts
  • Caption the graphics

1. The most important bit of writing will be the headline or title of your infographic. This is what makes people click! Keep their interest by adding the same oomph to the sub-headings and captions. If you’ve piqued their interest, they will read the whole thing. Check out this awesome example on how to speak out to your audience on social media.
2. By now, if you’ve followed these initial steps, you should have a good idea of what story you are trying to tell. So, keep to the point and keep it concise, whilst drawing out your most important points. You can run a simple test to see if your copy works. Take out the images and see if there is still a strong narrative – if the writing is up to scratch, there will be.
3. It doesn’t end there; writing a bigger narrative to go with your infographic is really important. You should cover why you decided to research the topic and what the key results were. Talk about what the next steps or challenges are.
4. Make it share worthy! Post the longer narrative with the infographic on your website or blog to create a discussion and buzz. Don’t forget your share buttons! Make it simple for people to spread the social love.

Step 4: Sharing is caring

Once you’ve written the post, or just uploaded the infographic, you will need to include the embed code. This makes life much easier for those who want to share your creation and will build the back links to your website or article.

Top seven tips for sharing your infographic

  1. Directories – Wow Internet lists 43 FREE infographic directories so you can submit your infographic. Remember your embed code and a short description of around 150-300 words.
  2. #Social Media – get posting on as many social media sites as you can, using relevant hashtags (always include #infographic!) Pinterest and Reddit are also great places to post as they contain a treasure trove of infographics.
  3. Tell the press – Spend some quality time composing an optimised press release, including a link back to your infographic post. This will spread the word and also improve your SEO by building back links to your site from anyone that reposts the press release.
  4. Get in touch with the bloggers – appeal to those in the know within your niche to include your infographic on their blogs and within industry articles. MyBlogGuest has an infographic guest posting area, as do many other sites.
  5. Facts and figures – extract your most important conclusions and data then use them within other posts and updates. Not forgetting the golden rule of linking to the original infographic, of course!
  6. Back scratching – go back to the sources of your data telling them you’ve used their research in your infographic and would like them to include a link to it on their site. Use links back to their pages within your longer narrative so you’re both benefitting.
  7. Image directories – As well as there being infographic specific directories, there are also several image directories that you should submit your infographic to. You can quickly expand your audience this way, especially if your graphics are rocking.


Step 5: Track and Trace

So now your infographic is floating around the internet, what do you need to do next? Unfortunately you can’t just sit back and wait for the back links to come in and your site traffic to go up. You need to see how successful it has been by tracking the traffic, and tracing who is sending people to your site. Don’t spend days working on the infographic only to have it languishing in a dark corner with no friends to play with.

  1. Set up an analytics tool for the infographic landing page. Keep a close eye on your demographics and if it isn’t getting enough ‘hits’ or is attracting the wrong audience, you might need to change your approach. Here’s a simple checklist to see if you’re going wrong.
  2. Use Google Webmaster to monitor how many back links are being built and by whom. You’re looking for authority sources sending people to your site.
  3. Monitor all of these things to give you inspiration for your next one and make sure that any rookie mistakes don’t get repeated.

But mostly, develop your own style as you explore the wonderful world of infographics!

Good luck!


Sources – Step 1

http://unbounce.com/content-marketing/i-wont-look-at-your-infographic/ (Unbounce – for quote for Sharon Hurley Hall)
http://dailytekk.com/2012/02/27/over-100-incredible-infographic-tools-and-resources/ (Daily Tekk – for list of data sources)
https://support.google.com/docs/answer/87809?rd=1 (Google Forms – recommended for carrying out surveys)
http://www.wufoo.com/ (Wufoo – as above)
https://www.surveymonkey.com/ (Survey Monkey – as above)
http://www.taskbullet.com/ (Task Bullet – recommended for managing your research campaign)
http://www.surgedigital.co.uk/ (Surge Digital – recommended for managing your infographic/research campaign)

Sources – Step 2

http://animagraffs.com/how-a-car-engine-works/ (Jacob O’Neal)
http://skillcrush.com/2014/06/17/5-color-palette-resources/ (Skill Crush, How to pick the best colour palette for your project)
http://www.pinterest.com/piktochart/ (Pinterest)
http://visual.ly/ (Visual.ly)
http://piktochart.com/gallery/showcase/ (Piktochart Showcase)

Sources – Step 3

http://www.marketingprofs.com/chirp/2013/11388/10-super-powers-of-the-worlds-greatest-social-media-marketers-infographic (Marketing Profs – 10 Super Powers of the World’s Greatest Social Media Marketer [Infographic]

Sources – Step 4
http://www.wowinternet.co.uk/blog/free-infographic-directories/ (Wow Internet – Free Infographic directory)
http://www.fitmarketing.com/blog/how-to-write-a-press-release-that-gets-noticed/ (Fit Marketing – Writing an optimised press release)
http://www.pinterest.com/ (Pinterest)
http://www.reddit.com/ (Reddit)
http://myblogguest.com/ (My Blog Guest)
http://www.quicksprout.com/the-advanced-guide-to-link-building-chapter-9/ (Quick Sprout)

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