How can you convey a complex message to an audience whose attention span has been reduced to the time required to read 140 characters? Through a visually appealing and data-loaded graphic, said Joe Chernov, VP of content marketing for revenue performance management company Eloqua.
The imbalanced equation of too much information and too little time has led PR pros and marketers alike to rediscover this classic form of communication. At the 2011 Content Marketing World Conference in Cleveland, Chernov covered what makes for an effective infographic and how to derive maximum business results from this type of content.
Having produced several infographics that have generated major results over the last 18 months, Chernov said that while infographics have been around for a long time, they’ve become extremely popular as of late for three reasons:
1. Simplicity: Maximum information with minimum effort from readers.
2. Sharability: Easily consumed and spread.
3. Status: There is a certain thrill that comes with the discovery of a good infographic.
Despite the surge in popularity, Chernov said a meritocracy persists where the public is often unable to distinguish good infographics from bad ones. For those looking to get started in designing their own infographics, Chernov advised picking from one of the four core types of infographics:
1. Capture the "state of" an industry/trend/idea: These infographics are great for celebrating a milestone or sounding a warning alarm. The best ones combine timelines with a vision of how fast the world is changing.
2. Provide a resource for viewers: Great for building goodwill via "how to" resources, supplying a utilitarian bulletin-board "guide" to a topic, curating “sticky” experiences with interactivity or repurposing promotional items, these infographics can be posted on a wall and used as a guide.
3. Compare/contrast A to B: Comparative infographics can inject humor and levity into content with items that are clearly different, or can help extent a public debate, like in the example of the M. vs. PC infographic.
4. Evolution: Good for "food for thought" content, establishing authority, triggering deeper discussion or debate.
Regardless of the type, Chernov said, an infographic should always simplify something that is complex. “The way to the brain is through the eyes, and that speaks very well to the success of infographics,” he said.