By now, you’re familiar with the concept that visual content is more engaging than written content—especially on social media. Humans are wired to interpret visual information, so seeing content in image or video form is faster, more noticeable, and leads to higher retention than reading it as words on a screen.
Simpler to create than full-length videos and more detailed than simple stock photos that accompany your blog posts, infographics are one of the best visual mediums you can use to encourage more social engagement.
The best part is, you can use infographics for almost any application. If you’re serving a specific target niche, like guitar players, you can look at examples like Tom Hess’s infographic on the dangers of the CAGED system, which has generated 1,400 Facebook likes. If you’re trying to appeal to more people, you could view examples like Creative Market’s guide to overcoming a creative block, which has seen thousands of shares across multiple social media platforms.
But what is it that makes an infographic “good” in the first place?
These are some of the most important principles you’ll need to follow to be successful:
- Answer a “why” question. Most successful infographics answer some kind of “why” question, and there are several advantages to this approach. First, “why” questions pique reader curiosity and attract more users to your work. Second, it gives you some kind of groundwork for making your infographic relevant; what do your users care about? What do they wish they had a better understanding of? Finally, answering a why question optimizes your content page for long-tail keyword phrases that your audience will use to search for answers like yours. It’s an easy way to make your content, social media, and SEO strategies work together.
- Think simple. Though you may be tempted to stuff your infographics full of as much information and as many interesting design elements as possible, for the most part—simpler is better. Limit the words you use throughout the piece; let the design do the talking. Instead of jamming more shapes and figures into the space you have available, leave some blank; it’s empty room for readers’ eyes to relax. You’ll also want to limit your color palette, sticking to a handful of strong central colors.
- Use statistics. Use hard statistics and facts wherever possible. Infographics don’t get popular with general statements like “infographics are shared more often than written posts and articles,” but with objective data like “infographics get 832 percent more shares than written posts and articles” (which happens to be true). This makes your graphic more credible and easier to cite—just make sure you cite and acknowledge your sources.
- Strike an emotion. One of the signature qualities of “viral” content that achieves thousands of shares is that it almost always evokes some kind of strong emotional response. That might be outrage at learning of new statistics, surprise at discovering something new, or even amusement at the layout and design of your work. Your infographic topic, and the resulting design, should target some emotion to evoke in your readers.
- Start a conversation. Finally, do what you can to start a conversation at the end of your infographic. Make your readers think critically about their environment, or ask them to share something about their own lives. Doing this facilitates more dialogue between your brand and your users (or your users amongst themselves), and will increase the number of shares and comments your infographics receive.
Getting the Most Out of Your Work
Once you’ve finished the design, you still have a bit more work to do to squeeze out the most value for your infographic:
- Respond to your followers. When someone makes a comment on your infographic, respond to them. If they ask you a question, answer it. This makes your users feel validated and encourages more users to engage with your material.
- Encourage shares. Don’t be afraid to ask your users to share your infographic—even if it’s something like “share this if you’ve ever _____” (something relevant to the topic).
- Cite your work in other areas. Publish offsite content and link back to your infographic, or share your infographic in conversations where it can be used to prove a point.
- Syndicate your post regularly. Don’t share it on social media just once; repost it every few weeks to get new eyes on it and keep its circulation alive.
If you haven’t developed infographics before and you’re not sure about the potential return on investment (ROI), remember that infographics, like any piece of the content marketing puzzle, will show better results when you invest in them over time. The more effort you put into learning the fundamentals, practicing their execution, and refining your process from your mistakes and achievements, the more traffic and interest for your brand you’ll generate over time.