It seems so easy on paper.
Put together an infographic detailing a bunch of awesome facts related to your industry or brand, and you'll pull in a ton of traffic to your site.
People will share it, talk about it, and ultimately trace it back to you.
Well, here's the thing. If infographics were super easy to do, then everybody would be doing them. They wouldn't be valuable for a brand: the web would be inundated with an overwhelming tide of insightful, high-quality infographics.
As it is, it's inundated with infographics of an entirely different quality: poorly-designed messes that are misleading, salesy, and just plain boring.
If you know what you're doing, you can ensure your own infographics don't fall into this camp. That's what we'll be talking about today.
How can you make sure your infographics are just plain awesome?
First, You Need An Amazing Core Idea
The most important thing about your infographic isn't how it looks, nor is it the data you've collected to support your claims - it's the core idea from which the whole thing is constructed. This is tougher than you'd think; choosing the wrong idea means your infographic will basically end up dead in the water before you even enter the design phase.
Far too many infographics start themselves off with a flawed concept, and never really manage to offer anything of value as a result. They're overly salesy, vapid, humorless, done to death, or simply meaningless to the people they're meant to connect with. Don't let your own infographic blunder into the same pitfalls.
Courtesy of KISSmetrics, here are a few tips to help you avoid going with a concept that's a dud:
- Don't Be A Salesperson: Infographics aren't made to sell your products. They're not sales platforms - they're informational tools. Keep that in mind when you're creating your graphic. It's perfectly acceptable to talk about your brand or products, but just make sure you're offering information that people actually care about rather than a sales pitch.
- Make Sure It's Original: This one should go without saying. While you can certainly ape a few design elements or concepts from other infographics, these should be used exclusively for inspiration. The infographic you create should be unique to your brand and your idea.
- Keep It Relevant: Infographics are not link-building tools - not solely. Don't create one just to bring in traffic; make sure you're actually tailoring it to your target audience. Put yourself in the shoes of one of your customers and ask if you'd care about the graphic you're designing - if the answer's no, then it's back to the drawing board.
- Keep It Simple: The thing that makes infographics so awesome is that they're super-rich in information, and incredibly concise besides. Don't get too wordy, or choose an idea that's too complex. You'll pay for it if you do.
- Make Sure There's Actually Value There: Now, even though Infographics should be simple, that doesn't mean they shouldn't provide readers with an in-depth overview of whatever topic you've chosen. Don't just scratch the surface.
- Don't Go Overboard: Here's a piece of advice from Vision Critical to round out our list - be realistic about the resources your company has available. Even the smallest infographics take a ton of work; if you bite off more than you can chew, you'll be left with something that's mediocre at best.
Second, You Need To Check Your Facts
It's all well and good to pick a bunch of interesting facts for your infographic, but those facts are useless if they aren't backed up by cold, hard facts. Nothing is worse than an infographic that provides incomplete - or incorrect - information. Even if the rest of your graphic is sound, a single faulty fact can render the entire thing meaningless.
For every data point you include in your infographic, make sure you've checked and re-checked its accuracy. Pull in as many sources as you can, and cite all of them - the more information you've got to back up your claims, the better.
If need be, hire a fact checker to confirm that you aren't simply blowing smoke.
Third, You Need To Look At The Words On The Page
Although infographics are primarily a visual medium - "show, don't tell" - that doesn't mean that the textual aspects of your graphics are completely irrelevant. You need to make sure that the language you're using isn't too far off from how readers would talk amongst themselves. And, of course, you need to see that your copy is free of spelling and grammatical errors.
"With infographics, you need to proofread spelling and grammar about six times, and that is not even an exaggeration," explains Dayna Rothman of the Marketo Blog. "Due to the nature of the graphic and the small font, it is incredibly common to let typos and errors slip by."
"Your best bet," she continues, "is to proofread the graphic multiple times with multiple people. You'd be surprised by the errors a fresh set of eyes may find."
Fourth, You Need To Make It Look Incredible
Of course, even if you've got an awesome idea, great facts, and awesome copy, your infographic is going to fall flat if it looks like something mashed together by an angry cave troll. You need to choose a decent font - one that's both readable and aesthetically pleasing - along with a complementary color palette. Most importantly, you can't make things too complex. KISSMetrics recommends using Kuler or Color Scheme Designer for your palette. For the design itself, try to put things together in a way that ties back to the original concept.
Your design, in other words, should follow a narrative. Not sure what I mean? Take a look at some of the best infographics ever made - that should give you at least some idea of how to put yours together, I'll wager.
Lastly, You Need To Promote It Properly
And at long last, we come to the 'marketing' side of content marketing. Whatever else you do with your infographic, you need to promote it once it's done. Otherwise, you're not likely to get much traffic.
"Even the best infographic won't go viral on its own," reads the KISSMetrics piece cited earlier. "You have to work hard."
What they mean is that you need to do pretty much everything you'd ordinarily do as far as content marketing is concerned. Get yourself established on social media, and be as active as you possibly can. Build relationships with influencers and important personalities to get high-profile shares. Personalize your emails.
You get the idea.
There's one other piece of advice I can give here - upload your infographic to Pinterest, and make sure it's designed to look good there. Infographics are actually pretty big over there, and you want to maximize the channels to which your infographic is shared, right?
There isn't a piece of content in the world that'll automatically go viral - that simply isn't how the Internet works. Even so, by following the steps outlined in this guide, you'll be able to create a top-notch infographic that will, at the very least, get you a ton of shares, and a fair bit of traffic. Maybe it won't go viral...but it won't be a failure, either.