Infographics are a proven way to showcase your message, raise brand awareness and establish authority in your niche.
But what makes a knockout infographic that gets more shares, drives traffic and attracts quality links from quality, relevant websites?
In this post, I share my proven tips for creating an infographic that gets results, by revealing 7 elements or “superpowers” that you need to consider across your infographic design, story and promotion – with all tips and strategies featured on an infographic for your reference.
Traditionally “visual” platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are leading the way in this trend towards Visual Social Media, but it is no longer just those platforms that are integrating images into the mix.
LinkedIn now has Professional Portfolio as a way of visually presenting your profile, and they have also integrated Slideshare’s new Infographic Player added by earlier this year. Even Twitter showcases Tweets with images, and in fact, Tweets with images get re-tweeted almost twice as often.
Images are everywhere. But what makes for a successful infographic? There are 3 elements to a successful infographic that gets shared and drives traffic:
3 Elements of a Successful Infographic
Without great design, your story is not effectively showcased…and it goes without saying that without strategic promotion of your infographic, it won’t be seen by the right audience. Each element is equally important. None of these elements stand alone, for instance:
>> Storyboarding happens early on when you are planning your infographic but it also happens throughout the design phase. Sometimes your message might seem great on paper, but when it is turned into visuals, you may need to tweak the wording, imagery, positioning or even overall message.
>> Design of an infographic takes into account your promotion phase as you are doing it. Consider who you will be reaching out to about your infographic? Are there brands or websites or industry influencers/leaders who you can reference in your infographic? Can you “feature” them with quotes, stats, industry case studies or source references? Everyone likes to be showcased in a positive way!
Put simply, from start to finish, your infographic will see the intertwining of Storyboarding, Design and Promotion.
The 7 Superpowers of a Knockout Infographic
So how does all of this work together? The following 7 “Superpowers” form the key components of a great infographic. These are the elements that help to bring together the storyboarding, design and promotion elements. Please note: Not all elements are required for all infographics – this is merely a collection of elements or ideas that you can include.
Put some thought into this. It needs to:
- be engaging
- contain key words
- preferably include the word [infographic] either as part of the title or an added keyword.
- give the reader an immediate overview of what the infographic is about – which leads us into the Story….
There is one thing that you need to remember when storyboarding your infographic:
It needs to be about your audience, not about you.
There is nothing worse than a self-indulgent infographic. Don’t just talk about your products or services – provide helpful, useful information that helps or inspires your ideal audience. [Tweet this]
- Think about the “Big Idea”. Every infographic conveys a main idea or concept. What is yours? What are you trying to share with your industry? By sharing useful, actionable, helpful information you are instantly establishing yourself as an authority (and look, you just did it without being spammy or talking about your products or services!)
- Connect the Dots in your story by using images, text and data (if necessary). How can you visualise your information?
- Ensure that your information either Helps, Inspires or Educates your audience – all in a visual way.
- Use Graphs, Maps and Data to support your main idea. As you will see on the infographic below, data is not essential for a great infographic, but it can be used to support your main idea.
- Think about the main problems, challenges and pain-points of your target audience – how can you solve it visually with an infographic?
- If in doubt – keep it simple! If your infographic is looking too complex, pull out just one main idea and focus on that. You should be able to summarize what your infographic is about in just one sentence. Alternatively, if it does have more than one “message” then segment the points using visuals. Each section should be clearly identifiable and form part of the overall story, but we will get to that below.
A well style infographic has a number of elements to it:
- It is visually appealing – that’s the whole point. It’s an info “graphic” – if you can’t visually represent the information in a way that is attractive to the eye and draws you in, then perhaps a blog post or text-based medium would be the better choice.
- Digestible – Infographics can get long….sometimes too long. But if you have information that is chunked into sections, then you can get away with a longer infographic. The ideal infographic is one where you can get an immediate overview of the “message” but then dive into smaller chunks of data or information and go deeper.
- Hierarchial – there are many ways to establish hierarchy on an infographic – including headings, colour and size of images. Ensure that you are showcasing the important information to make it POP.
On that note, here is the complete infographic – we hope you love it and we will see you on the “other side” for more on the 7 Superpowers:
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I know….. there is a great temptation to include a ton of information but sometimes, the most powerful infographic is a simple one. Even if you have a lot of data to present, you can keep elements of simplicity in your design with the following tips:
- Stick to one style for images/graphics/photos – If you are using images or characters or icons to represent your information, keep them in a consistent style.
- Limit Your Fonts – It’s okay to include more than one font, but don’t go overboard or it ends up distracting the person trying to quickly digest the main “point”.
- Restrict Your Colour Palette – Like the fonts, think about colour scheme. Just because you have every pantone available to you, doesn’t mean you need to use it. If you are working with a designer, fonts and colours are a great thing to discuss up front.
- Don’t neglect White Space – Sometimes you just need to give the eyes a chance to breathe. You do not need to fill up every inch of your infographic with data. If you have too much, consider keeping some of the information aside and do a second infographic. It’s a win-win!
- Establish Flow and Connection – if you have more than one section or hierarchial level of information, think about how you can “connect” the elements – it may be with a design element, the use of headings, colours or images…or even a character or icon that appears throughout the infographic. This is especially important if you are designing a longer infographic. Too much jumping around without flow, and you risk turning away readers.
- Optimize for Pinterest. The ideal size of an image is now 735 pixels wide. This is a change from 600 pixels wide. It may change again in future, but for now, keeping your horizontal width at 735 is a good place to start. I if you go wider, you risk some re-sizing. And it goes without saying to that these sizes are subject to change.
- Compress Your Image. When posting the image to your blog, compress the image so that it is not massive in size – it also makes it easier for others to share (because that’s what we want, right?)
- Don’t go too long! Yes, you can go as long as you like with an infographic. Some people recommend not going over 8000 pixels in height, but to be honest, I have found that the biggest shares we get with infographics are on images that are only 5000 in length. So keep it around 5000 and you should be kicking goals. And seriously, how much information do you want to cram in? If you go longer than that you should consider moving some of the content to a second infographic.
- Size Does Matter! Yes, infographics are traditionally “long” but what about a shorter one? Sometimes just a change in the shape of images on the newsfeed will make an image stand out. Many images are portrait sized (2:3 aspect ratio). Many infographics are super long. Try something mid-length or maybe even 1500-2000 pixels long. It will stand out, trust me.
Stats are a common feature on Infographics – using research, articles and statistics to support your information, but they are not necessary for every infographic. If your infographic is more of a How-To style, you may not need references. But if you do include stats, there are a few key things to remember. Stats should be:
- Current – If you are searching for resources and references, be sure to look for recent articles (ie in the past year if possible).
- Factual and Reliable – choose reputable sources of information or websites that you know and trust if possible. If you plan on sharing your infographic with industry leaders, consider using other businesses, brands or tools in your stats – if a blogger, business or company gets a mention they are more likely to want to share your finished infographic.
- Helpful – if the data helps to make your case, educates, inspires or solves the problems of your ideal client, then sure, include it. If it is not really serving a “helpful “purpose, then consider leaving it out.
This is possibly the most important part. It’s all well and good to have a fabulous infographic, but if it does not have “shareability” then nobody will see it. As well as a great Story, Style, Simplicity, Stats and being the right Size, there are a few key things you can do to ensure that it is ready for sharing.
- For Your Website: Embed your finished infographic into a blog post that expands and showcases the infographic. That way, people will have something to click back to! Always, always focus on directing traffic back to your website.
- Do some Blogger Outreach – share the infographic with influential bloggers or businesses in your industry. In most cases they will be keen to share it if it helps their own target audience (remember…it’s not about you!).
- Share it out to Social Media – this one is a no brainer!
- Include an embed code. See below? This infographic has an embed code to encoourage you to share it!
- For Pinterest: Ensure that you have entered the source code and URL into the pin description when pinning it to Pinterest.
- Include some identifying information on the infographic (ie logo or website url) so that the source (your website) is always kept intact, no matter what happens to links.
- Add a Pin-It Button to your website to encourage the sharing.
- For Facebook: Include a Facebook-ready image in your post somewhere. A square image works well, or if you also post to Pinterest then portrait size).
- For Twitter:
- Use short, attention-grabbing tweets, introducing your infographic in a way that encourages the person to click through.
- Hot off the Presses: Twitter is now showcases images, so include an image about your infographics ir perhaps showcasing a key point from it) and tweet it out so that people will be encouraged to click through.
- For Slideshare:
- Slideshare now feature infographics as well as slide presentations and can drive a lot of traffic. However, just bear in mind that the infographic needs to be uploaded to Slideshare so the traffic is first directed to your SlideShare account, and then people may choose to click across to your site. I suggest posting to SlideShare after an initial traffic “rush” to your site has started to die down. It can, however, provide a great second-wind of traffic!
- For LinkedIn:
- Don’t forget to post to LinkedIn. As we have stated on this infographic, LinkedIn is very under-utilised considering that it has one of the highest click through rates for driving traffic to infographics. Who would have thought? So definitely post your blog post to LinkedIn. [Tweet This]
This goes hand in hand with Stats – if you have data, articles, references or blog posts to support your content, put it here. It’s always a great idea to list the “source” for your information:
- Confirm your facts. By providing references to your data, you are establishing credibility for your information. Always double check your source, references and data.
- Use reputable sources. Use well-known sources where possible. This includes websites with high traffic, and credibility in your industry.
- Quote people with “Cred”. You might also use quotes from industry leaders or thought leaders. These can work just as well as articles or blog posts.
There are NO Rules!
I want to point something out. There are no rules with infographics. You are only limited by your creativity and the elements mentioned above.
An example of this is our own infographic design service at Socially Sorted – we don’t stick to a “formula”. Some of our infographics are “traditional” and data driven, others are summaries of blog posts, or more “how-to” in nature. One of our most shared infographics was a simple representation of a real-life Linkedin Profile. And the infographic featured in this article is very “meta” in that it is a “how-to within a how-to”. I have to thank my colleague Jason Fell, the Managing Editor at Entrepreneur.com for the initial concept.
Another example is one of the most popular infographics shared 0n Visual.ly. It was a simple representation of a formal dining setting – it remains one of their most shared infographics according to Visual.ly. It contains no data. No fancy design. Just simple, clear, helpful information.
So get creative with infographics! Consider the elements above and you will be off to a great start. And you don’t need to use a design team. There are some great tools that can help you to create simple infographics. Just stick to the concepts of simplicity when it comes to design, fonts, imagery and styling. Many of these tools have templates ready to go:
Or check out my favourite tool, Canva. Canva’s DIY design platform allows you to create graphics of any size, so infographics are possible with their design tools, especially their new infographic design templates – you’ll love them!
Just remember, there are no rules. You are only restricted by your imagination (and then the ability to make it appealing, useful and shareable when placed on to an infographic!).
Have fun with it and think outside of the square!
Over to you. Do you pin, post, or share infographics? Which ones do you love? Share them in the comments below.
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